Hollywood is about to churn out another movie based on a video game, but this one actually seems pretty decent. Sony Pictures Entertainment just dropped the trailer for the Gran Turismo movie and for once, it doesn’t seem to be a live-action version of a game that completely pisses on the source material. Instead, this movie will follow the real-life story of a gamer who became a racer. Check it out!
Studios are taking beloved video games and turn them into television shows and movies; this isn’t anything new, as film adaptations of video games have been around for a while. But there are more of them now and the results have varied wildly. If you’re like me and you grew up playing Halo, you were probably stoked to hear about the show, which aired on Paramount+. Then you watched it and like me, maybe it broke your brain. That isn’t the Halo you or anyone else grew up with. There are 2000s GM products driving around in this show set 500 years in the future. And oh yeah, Master Chief got in bed with the Covenant, literally. On the other end of the spectrum, you have The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which is apparently so good that it has broken a billion dollars and topped the box office for four weekends straight.
Where will Gran Turismo stand? Will it be an embarrassment like Halo, mediocre like Uncharted, or not even really related to the source material like Need for Speed? Or will it just rake in the cash like Super Mario currently is? I’m not sure if Gran Turismo will be that much of a powerhouse, but it doesn’t appear to be running on a flat tire, so to speak.
Right from the jump, I like what I’m seeing here. Gran Turismo launched in December 1997 for the original PlayStation. Since then, there have been seven more main entries, which each raking in millions of copies sold. I got into the series with Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. That game helped lay the foundation for the car enthusiasm that I have today as an adult. Through GT3, I learned about cars that I never knew existed and maybe I learned a few driving tricks through the game’s notorious driver licensing system. I mean, just take a look:
Another high watermark is Gran Turismo 4, which might have the best opening of any driving game:
If that doesn’t get you in the mood for some hooning, I don’t know what will! But how do you make a movie out of a game that doesn’t have a story? Indeed, if you’ve played these games or even mainline Forza Motorsport games, you know that your mission is to race until there are no more races. I suppose you could just do like the Need for Speed movie did and just invent a story. Or, you can do what this movie is appearing to do and tell a story that involves the game.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Gran Turismo tells the story of Jann Mardenborough. Mardenborough is a professional racing driver today, but his career had an interesting start. Twelve years ago, Mardenborough competed in the Gran Turismo Academy, a competition where the best Gran Turismo players race to win a racing career with Nissan. Basically, it turns the best gamers into real racing drivers. GT Academy was created by former Nissan UK marketer Darren Cox. In 2008, the series kicked off and minted its first winner, Lucas Ordóñez of Spain. Between 2010 and until the GT Academy’s ending in 2016, 21 more Gran Turismo players became racing drivers.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mardenborough said that he had been playing Gran Turismo since he was seven. Like a lot of car enthusiasts who play games, he’d play the occasional shooter, but his heart was in racers. Gran Turismo allowed Mardenborough to drive the cars that he thought he’d never get to play with in real life. As his love of Gran Turismo flourished, he eventually built a racing sim rig out of MDF wood, then Gran Turismo Academy happened.
As I said, GT Academy pits the best Gran Turismo racers against each other and the best of the best get to go to a race camp, where they compete with each other in real sports cars. Mardenborough was the third youngest GT Academy winner when, at 19 years old, he beat out a field of 90,000 entrants. Mardenborough found himself behind the wheel with Nissan for the Dubai 24 Hour. He placed third in his class in that race.
Since then, Mardenborough has raced in multiple series from Formula 3 and Super GT to even racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His dream is to race in Formula 1.
This movie is a different one for director Neill Blomkamp. He’s known for directing movies like District 9, Chappie, and Elysium. All of those aren’t even in the same wheelhouse as Gran Turismo. So, this will be interesting to see. Mardenborough will be portrayed by Archie Madekwe (Midsommar), Orlando Bloom will play Darren Cox, David Harbour (Black Widow) will play Jack Salter, Mardenborough’s trainer, Djimon Hounsou (Black Adam, Shazam!) will play Steve Mardenborough, Jann’s father, and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls) will play Mardenborough’s mother.
Gran Turismo premieres in theaters on August 11. I think you’ll see me there!
(Top Image: Sony Pictures)
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