Gran Turismo – The DVDfever Cinema Review – David Harbour, Orlando Bloom

Gran Turismo Gran Turismo sees yet another popular videogame being transferred to the silver screen. Will it race to success, or just end up in the pit?

Orlando Bloom (Unlocked, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) plays Danny Moore, creator of the GT Academy – strangely having renamed the real-life creator, Darren Cox – who comes up with the idea to take the best of all the racers playing the game, and put them in a Formula 1 car – not that Formula 1 is ever mentioned, since they’d have to pay the rights to use that term. Instead, we have the “GT Academy”.

And when he pitches this to Nissan, he calls them “Knee-san”. Really?!

The plot is script-by-numbers with no expense spent on it. Danny needs someone to manage the project, so calls on Jack Salter (David HarbourViolent Night) – an engineer and former racer – who intially pours scorn on the idea, then accepts it five minutes later, because reasons.

And when we get to the endless competition of who will come top out of all the gamers, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who it’ll be, given that Jann Mardenborough (Archie MadekweHang Ups) is the only one featured prominently in the trailer(!)

Every single actor in this is asleep at the switch. Madekwe has as much personality as a doorstop, Djimon Hounsou (A Quiet Place Part II) gets little to do other than play the disapproving Dad, and I didn’t realise until she appeared that ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell (Michael Mcintyre’s Big Show) was playing his mum, although since she married a billionaire, she became known as Geri Horner, and here, she’s Geri Halliwell Horner! I know it’s a woman’s perogative to change her mind, but come on, love, make your mind up!

Similarly, the ‘bad guy’ of the piece is Nicholas Capa (Josha Stradowski), the actor doing little more than giving Jann a ‘Paddington Bear hard stare’, and his actions on the track are akin to Zola Budd tripping up Mary Decker at the 1984 Olympics. Why he isn’t censured for that, who can tell, but while he’s known for ‘not playing fair’, he’s actually performing an illegal move, so why is that tolerated?!

Gran Turismo Movie in a nutshell! #Shorts – DVDfeverGames

There’s an attempt at throwing in a relationship between Jann and Audrey (Maeve Courtier-Lilley), but given that neither actor have a spark of personality, you don’t begin to care. I know that Madekwe looks a bit like the real guy, but he really couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag and is the vocal equivalent of Mogadon, he was putting me to sleep that much.

when we initially see Jann playing the game, it does start to look interesting when you see him moving along the track and overtaking other cars, but the effect is completely broken up by having the camera cut back to him and his friend as they ‘react’ to what’s apparently onscreen (they’ll just be looking at a green screen as they film it, of course), so that aspect of the film is out the window and completely redundant, and completely misses the point of showing the game in the first place.

David Harbour manages to rival his tedious 2019 Hellboy film by putting in another lame performance. Last Christmas’ Violent Night would’ve been improved by cutting down on the overlong two-hour running time. Then again, this one rambles on for 2hrs 15 minutes, and really doesn’t need to.

So much of David Harbour’s wisecracks from the trailer was left out of the film, itself. Additionally, some shouty trailer lines have been changed for very low-key versions in the film, itself, and most oddly, the trailer was in 2.39:1, yet the film is 1.85:1, so instead of filling the screen with racing cars, it all felt more like a TV movie, and with soap opera dialogue.

For example, in the trailer, Jack bellows to the trainees – albeit cut together from individual bellowing and on reflection, clearly recorded for trailer-only purposes: “If you miss a line… in the game… you RESET! On the track… you could die!”

Here, the ‘reset’ line is in a casual discussion with Danny, and “you could die” doesn’t come up at all.

Similarly, I don’t recall the trailer line from Jack, “You really think you’re going to take a kid who plays videogames in their bedroom, you’re going to strap them to a 200mph rocket. It’ll tear him to pieces!” appearing in the film, either. I can be certain that the line following a moment where Jann crashes, “You get extra points for that in the game(?)” certainly isn’t.

Gran Turismo poster outside Manchester’s Arndale Center

Plus, Jann shouts as he plays the game, “I *KNOW* this track! I’ve raced it 1,000 TIMES!!!”, but the “1,000 times” comment comes in a brief conversation with Danny, as well as a bit later during the final race – the 24 Hour at Le Mans, but if you weren’t expecting the trailer line, you wouldn’t even remember the line at all.

Between the trailer and the film, it’s like being a kid in the ’80s, loving the arcade original of PAC-MAN, and then getting the Atari 2600 bastardisation instead.

All that said, for the first time, on Sunday, I saw a trailer presented in 1.85:1, before the PG-rated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – a PG-rated movie, and it felt a lot more toned down. I’d assumed they’d cropped the image, until I watched the film itself.

Seeing the widescreen 2.39:1 trailer now, I can see that the image has been cropped down from 1.85:1, although Gran Turismo really feels like a film that SHOULD in 2.39:1 ratio, given that it’s an action movie, and follows on from similar films such as 2013’s Rush and going further back, 1990’s Days Of Thunder, where Tom Cruise’s character learned how to race cars simply by watching ESPN, as you do. That felt far-fetched, but then the same thing has effectively happened here.

So, the change in ratio took a little while to get used to, but before long, the computer graphics from Jann’s game did fit within the theatrical ratio, so I could only conclude that this IS the ratio, and there hadn’t just been a cock-up with the print supplied by Sony.

I later learned that the change to 1.85:1 was one made at the last minute, but I still feel that 2.39:1 would’ve better-suited a racing movie like this. You don’t need the extra screen height to see David Harbour’s huge forehead. Plus, compare the amount of space that the racing would’ve taken up on a 2.39:1 screen, to the amount it’s taking up on that portion of the 1.85:1 image of the same screen, and it’s reduced to about 30% of what it could’ve been. That’s just so dumb.

As for the game, I have played one of them before, but to me, they’re more complex than I like when playing a racing game. I just want an arcade experience, and don’t care to learn to tweak this and that technicality within a vehicle.

Family Guy – How about a little help from Kenny G?

It’s a poor do when the best thing about the film is two of the pieces of music featured in it – Kenny G’s Songbird, and Enya’s Orinoco Flow – because Jann likes to chill out to such music. However, Songbird only reminds me of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin performing the song by putting the mouthpiece of a saxophone to his anus, and Orinoco Flow was tainted after the first series of Peep Show, when Toni was tossing off Jeremy in the penultimate episode after he pretended to have a terminal illness (later moved to become the finale), at the very end, and the moment when he… y’know, was when the chorus kicked in over the credits.

If you want a movie adaptation of a video game that was actually good fun, try 2018’s Rampage. The game had no discernable plot, and the filmmakers just had the creaturest from the game destroying the city, and Dwayne Johnson trying to stop them, but… a lot of jokes were thrown in, and everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves, and it was a surprisingly entertaining movie.

And that’s what’s missing from Gran Turismo: jokes and entertainment.

It also feels like a movie made by committee, so despite Neill Blomkamp being listed as the director – following engaging works like District 9 and Elysium, it feels like he had nothing to do with it. Similarly, Meg 2: The Trench has none of Ben Wheatley’s trademark style to it, so it’s as if in both cases, they just put their names to it, and the directors stayed home!

Do yourself a favour and join them. For a driving film like Gran Turismo, it’s so pedestrian.

Oh, and one final comment, which I’ll put behind a spoiler, not that you couldn’t guess it.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Gran Turismo isn’t yet available to buy on any home formats. Do yourself a favour: wait until it comes on TV. And then go out!

Gran Turismo – Official Trailer (2.39:1) – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Gran Turismo – Official Trailer 2 (1.85:1) – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Detailed specs:

Running time: 135 minutes
Release date: August 9th 2023
Studio: Studiocanal
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Cinema: Cineworld Didsbury
Rating: 2/10

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Producers: Doug Belgrad, Dana Brunetti, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan
Screenplay: Jason Hall, Zach Baylin
Music: Lorne Balfe, Andrew Kawczynski

Jack Salter: David Harbour
Danny Moore: Orlando Bloom
Jann Mardenborough: Archie Madekwe
Kazunori Yamauchi: Takehiro Hira
Matty Davis: Darren Barnet
Lesley Mardenborough: Geri Halliwell (as Geri Halliwell Horner)
Steve Mardenborough: Djimon Hounsou
Nicholas Capa: Josha Stradowski
Coby Mardenborough: Daniel Puig
Audrey: Maeve Courtier-Lilley
Antonio Cruz: Pepe Barroso
Frederik Schulin: Niall McShea
Patrice Capa: Thomas Kretschmann
Akira Akiba: Akie Kotabe