Nearly a decade after a film adaptation of the Gran Turismo video was first mooted, Sony has released the forthcoming movie’s official trailer and confirmed it will hit cinemas this August.
As previewed, the film is based on a true gamer-to-racer story rather than on the plotless 26-year-old Gran Turismo PlayStation game series.
Star actors include Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings series), Archie Madekwe (Midsommar), David Harbour (Stranger Things) and even Geri Horner, the former Spice Girl (and wife of Red Bull F1 team boss Christian Horner).
The Gran Turismo film follows the tale of Darlington-born Jann Mardenborough, a British gamer who made it into real world racing thanks to the GT Academy. This was a televised project — created by Nissan and Sony — to give skilled players of the Gran Turismo game the chance to prove themselves in the real world. The series ran from 2008 to 2016.
In 2011 at the age of twenty, Mardenborough became the third — and youngest — winner of the competition. He won a drive for Nissan at the Dubai 24-hour race and has continued in motor sport ever since.
The new film dramatises Mardenborough’s progress through the GT Academy and into the very real world of motor sport.
The dramatic trailer starts with the portentous (and arguably trite) words by Harbour’s character in his position as trainer of the gamers: “If you miss the line in the game you reset. If you miss it on the track… you could die.”
It’s clear that he’s sceptical from the start of the merits of the concept, suggesting that the “scrawny gamers” can’t hope to compete with professional racers that are in effect elite athletes. A smiley and intense-looking Bloom, playing the series director, quips “that’s where you come in” before we see the young gamers going for a run.
Harbour’s character’s scepticism continues as he berates the gamers: “must be a new experience for you, moving your legs.”
After an apparently rocky start — we see a large spin into the tyre wall at the wheel of a Nissan GTR — the trainer eventually is impressed by Mardenborough’s ability.
Aside from the GT Academy progression of Mardenborough, the film delves into his private life, where his parents — played by Horner and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond; Captain Marvel) — criticise their son’s obsession with video game playing and make it clear that they don’t have the money to fund a racing career.
There’s a hint of a love story in the trailer, too, but the star of the movie is shaping up to be the filming of the racing action – especially the live-action sequences.
Directed by South African Neill Blomkamp (District 9), the film was partially created using the Sony Rialto camera extension system. This separates the lens and light sensor from the main camera body so that filming in tight spaces is possible — e.g. within a race car.
The trailer shows plenty of on-track racing action, off-track rivalry and the inevitable dangerous-looking crash, but you don’t need to know about Mardenborough’s subsequent racing career and success to guess how the film goes.
Fans of the Gran Turismo game series that love the option to take the (virtual) wheel of a wide variety of machinery — old and new — may not be completely overjoyed by the trailer, as it focuses heavily on racing cars (and Nissan ones at that) rather than quirky road models, but the fast-paced soundtrack and what appears to be intense and realistic racing action may be enough to win them over.
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