My 11 year old son Harri loves racing, and he loves driving games like Gran Turismo where he can test his skills in races on the track. But it’s all just gaming right? Well for Harri it is, but as he grows up he’ll get better, more competitive and even compete in online races. So when a trailer for a movie called Gran Turismo dropped he was instantly pumped.
Last week I had the pleasure of taking the little man to a preview screening of the movie and it was everything he hoped it would be. Ten out of Ten.
So for your kids, it’s a winner.
Now it’s not all smiles and Playstations, there’s a bit of a love interest, and perhaps more importantly a stark reminder of the “Motorsport is Dangerous” ticketing label when the 2015 crash at the Nordschleife in which a GT Academy winner’s car jumped the fence and killed a spectator features in part of the movie.
It’s perhaps the most brutal and stark reality check for those who think Gaming is Racing. But the whole point of the Nissan and Playstation GT Academy was to find the best gamer and put them into a real race-car to compete in the real world.
This movie is the story of Jann Mardenborough, a young British driver who won the inaugural GT Academy in 2011. Moreover it’s the story of how the idea came about, and how key players found there way into the program.
We followed the GT Academy for years, including when Aussie postie Matt Simmons won the title in 2016 and it’s staggering just how good these racers are – and the program is really the precursor to what we now have as online racing competitions such as the F1 e-Sports league, though there’s no progression to a real race-track in those events.
It felt like a honest representation of much of the process and the racing industry, though of course, it all had to be condensed into a free flowing script, and a two hour movie.
Facts are sketchy in the documented career of Mardenborough, but again – that’s to fast forward the whole thing into a gripping story.
As a passionate rev-head and someone who’s watched everything that happens in the real world of motorsport, I will say the racing scenes were sometimes jarring, scenes I’ve seen before in movies like Rush where a driver has to push, and they seem to literally change gears or plant the throttle to do that, as if they wouldn’t have already been doing that. Fast cuts, moving cameras to make it all seem far more action packed than perhaps the session being filmed really was. It’s a small gripe, and I don’t have a suggestion as to how to do it better and I’m sure it’s all about showing “action” in the movie.
If you know Jann’s story in great detail, the whole thing will frustrate you, but also please you that it’s being told. If you’ve never heard his story, its a cracker representation of it, after which you can read up and learn about the true ins and outs of his journey – like his move into open wheeler Formula cars which is not documented in the film.
As you know, I’m not much of a movie buff, so I wouldn’t know Orlando Bloom from a bar of salt, in fact I couldn’t tell you which one he was – I think he was the bloke who worked for Nissan Marketing and had the idea for GT Academy, but regardless, he’s the big-name in the movie, but I felt the story shon through without the need for a headliner.
Gran Turismo hits cinemas this Thursday.
Oh, and stay for the credits, really nice side by sides with the real people and their characters, plus you’ll enjoy knowing who the Jann Madendborough stunt driver is.
In true Richard Wilkins style – and I hope he doesn’t mind, I’ll give it 3.5 stars.