I will subtly allow myself to follow up on one of the most famous MZ phrases of all time and ask, why the hell did Neill Blomkamp make Gran Turismo when we would all much rather see him involved in more stimulating projects? At the same time, I will answer myself right away – because he didn’t have much of a choice.
As you may know by now, the story is based on true events and follows the journey of former gamer Jann Marden borough, who became the third winner of the GT Academy in history. This achievement enabled him to transition from virtual racing to real-life racing, piloting a Nissan racing car in various competitions, including Formula 3, GP 3, GP 2, and even the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Marden borough thus emerged as an icon among simulator enthusiasts, making the concept of creating a Gran Turismo film from his perspective intriguing. However, some caution is necessary.
From the outset, it’s evident that the film from PlayStation Studios primarily functions as an advertisement. It serves as a promotion for the game, Sony’s gaming console, Nissan, and several other brands. Additionally, the script goes to great lengths to explain the essential concepts to a non-gaming audience, making the initial part of the movie more challenging to engage with. For those expecting creative input from Blomkamp, you won’t find much, as the beginning feels rather artificial. The positive aspect is that these issues start to fade as the film shifts into higher gears and transitions into the second act.
In this segment, the main character, accompanied by several other hopefuls, finds himself at the renowned GT Academy. Under the guidance of marketer Orlando Bloom and chief engineer David Harbour, an intense training phase begins, with the goal of transforming gamers into professional racers. Finally, Gran Turismo transforms into a sports, and more specifically, a racing film. Blomkamp’s directorial style also becomes more evident, with dynamic drone shots circling above the race track, appealing to avid car enthusiasts who idolize figures like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Even though I’m not personally familiar with these references, I found myself applauding. Simultaneously, the racing sequences become more exhilarating.
I must commend Gran Turismo here, as I initially expected a film that might be somewhat frivolous, featuring a brief five-minute race followed by a swift conclusion. However, it’s quite the opposite. The rich 134-minute runtime allocates ample space to showcase the racing experiences that Marden borough underwent. Nevertheless, the film deviates from reality in this segment, condensing his career into a rapidly edited montage that compresses what took years into a matter of weeks. Moreover, a pivotal and significant event is displaced, serving as motivation for the protagonist’s final race at Le Mans. The film’s creators, including Marden borough, who participated as the main stuntman, have faced substantial criticism for this alteration. In truth, the event occurred several years after Le Mans. Adding to these intricacies…
In conclusion, while Gran Turismo is not the best racing or gaming movie, it’s a considerable distance from being a pointless adaptation, as many initially feared, myself included. Additionally, Blomkamp’s talent shines through, demonstrating that given a suitable budget, time, and a solid script, he can craft a respectable film. Granted, Gran Turismo has its issues, with the project’s commercial aspects being the most prominent concern. However, at its core, it offers an authentic racing experience that thrills by the end. The impressive sound design and camera work will undoubtedly delight car enthusiasts who view automobiles as more than mere transportation. With the Formula 1 season on a summer hiatus, there’s hardly a better way to pass the time. Meanwhile, my anticipation turns towards the upcoming “Apex” featuring Brad Pitt, from whom we can anticipate an even more substantial offering.
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