Movie Review | From Gamer to Racer in Gran Turismo

The intersection of gaming and cinema has produced some unexpected gems over the years, and the upcoming Gran Turismo movie, directed by Neill Blomkamp and written by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin, is no exception. While Gran Turismo, a long-running racing simulation game series by Sony, isn’t known for its cinematic storytelling, the film manages to craft an endearing underdog story around the world of professional racing. However, it also feels like an extended PlayStation commercial at times, with product placement that occasionally disrupts the immersion.

The heart of the movie revolves around the life of Jann Mardenborough, portrayed by Archie Madekwe, who excels as both a gamer and a racing enthusiast. His passion for racing, nurtured from a young age, drives him to pursue a career in professional racing. Jann’s journey from the mundane to the thrilling world of racing forms the core of the story. It’s a classic underdog narrative, filled with trials and tribulations, and it will resonate strongly with audiences, especially gamers who’ve dreamt of making it big in their favorite games.

While the film’s story is touching, it’s impossible to ignore the pervasive presence of PlayStation throughout. Sony’s logo adorns helmets and suits, the console’s startup sound heralds the beginning of the movie, and even Sony’s MP3 player makes an appearance. Understandable, considering Sony’s funding and production of the film, but the heavy-handed product placement occasionally detracts from emotional scenes, reminding viewers that they’re watching a PlayStation advertisement.

Despite these immersion-breaking moments, the film shines in its cinematography. Jacques Jouffret’s camerawork provides an exhilarating experience, especially during racing sequences. The use of various camera angles, including a behind-the-car overhead view, immerses viewers in the heart-pounding action. The film’s visuals are stunning, enhanced by smart use of CGI, adding to the overall immersion.

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The movie’s narrative is its greatest asset. It swiftly navigates the true story of Jann Mardenborough, who transformed his passion for Gran Turismo into a professional racing career. Jann’s relentless pursuit of his dream, despite constant criticism that “video games aren’t real,” is inspiring. The film captures his victories and defeats, portraying the determination of a gamer who defied the odds.

While the story is heartwarming, some aspects feel rushed. Jann’s relationship with his girlfriend (Maeve Courtier-Lilley) and his rivalry with fellow racer Matty Davis (Darren Barnet) could have been explored more deeply. Additionally, a crash sequence at the Nürburgring, placed as a motivating factor for Jann’s story but which actually occurred after the film’s last race in reality, feels disingenuous and insensitive.

The Gran Turismo movie is a surprising cinematic experience that turns a game known for its lack of storytelling into an endearing underdog tale. While heavy PlayStation product placement occasionally disrupts the immersion, the film’s outstanding cinematography and compelling narrative make it a must-watch, especially for gamers who have dreamed of racing on the track themselves. In the end, it’s a heartfelt tribute to racing and PlayStation.

What makes the Gran Turismo movie even more remarkable is its connection to a real-life story. Jann Mardenborough’s journey from gamer to professional racer, portrayed in the film, mirrors his actual path. Mardenborough’s involvement as a co-producer and stunt double adds authenticity to the movie, highlighting that dreams can come true even in the world of professional racing.

The film’s central message about dedication and pursuing one’s passion is universal. Jann’s commitment to mastering the racing sim against all odds serves as a powerful reminder that with hard work and determination, anyone can achieve their goals. It’s a message that resonates not only with gamers but with anyone striving to overcome challenges in pursuit of their dreams.

The Gran Turismo movie manages to bring the thrill of racing to the big screen in a way that captivates the audience. Through meticulous cinematography and clever use of CGI, viewers feel like they’re right in the driver’s seat during intense races. This immersive experience adds an exciting dimension to the film, making it a visual delight for racing enthusiasts.

The film’s connection to gaming doesn’t stop at the story itself. It also highlights the resilience of the gaming community, particularly modders. The controversy surrounding DLSS support in Starfield and how modders swiftly addressed the issue is a testament to the gaming community’s dedication to enhancing the gaming experience. This aspect of the film showcases the collaborative nature of the gaming world.

The Gran Turismo movie, while occasionally marred by overt PlayStation product placement, shines as a heartwarming ode to the world of racing and the power of determination. It’s a tale that proves that dreams can be achieved, even in the absence of a traditional narrative. With its stunning visuals, relatable message, and connection to real-life success, the movie promises to be a must-see for both gamers and movie enthusiasts alike.

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