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At The Movies: “Gran” and furious

Welcome to the latest installment of “At The Movies,” Consumer Products Division.

The movie “Gran Turismo” is based on the PlayStation video game.

In 2023, movies based on consumer products include “Air,” about the development of the Nike sneaker named for NBA superstar Michael Jordan, and “BlackBerry,” about the rise and fall of the first smart phone.

And of course, there’s “Barbie,” inspired by the toy doll.

“Gran Turismo” isn’t so much about the video game, although there is some background about the game in the adrenaline-pumping, enjoyable and inspirational movie, but more about the impact of the PlayStation game.

The car racing simulation (sim) video game, “Gran Turismo,” was developed by Polyphony Digital CEO Kazunori Yamauchi, a Japanese game designer and professional racing driver. The first “Gran Turismo” video game was released in 1997 on PlayStation systems. “Gran Turismo 7” was released in 2022. More than 90 million units have been sold worldwide. Yamauchi has a cameo as a chef in the movie, “Gran Turismo.”

The movie, “Gran Turismo,” is based on what is said to be a true story about Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a young man from Wales and a “Gran Turismo” PlayStation gamer. Mardenborough qualifies for training at Nissan’s GT (Gran Turisimo) Academy, wins the 2011 GT Academy Race and goes on to drive race cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and international competitions.

Who said playing video games is a waste of time? Just look at the wartime use of weaponized drones.

The “Gran Turismo” movie storyline includes those who support or oppose Mardenborough’s auto-racing ambitions, including his father Steve (Djimon Hounsou, two-time Oscar nominee, supporting actor, ”Blood Diamond,” 2007; “In America,” 2004), his mother Lesley (Geri Halliwell-Horner, aka Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls pop group), irascible GT driving instructor Jack (David Harbour, TV’s “Stranger Things,’’ 2016-2022, making the most of the role), GT Academy official Danny (Orlando Bloom, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Lord Of The Rings”), rival race car driver Nicholas (Josha Stradowski) and Mardenborough’s girlfriend Audrey (Maeve Courtier-Lilley).

Neill Blomkamp (Director, “Elysium,” 2013; Director, Oscar nomination, adapted screenplay, ”District 9,” 2009) directs “Gran Turismo” from a screenplay by Jason Hall (screenwriter, “Thank You For Your Service,” 2014; Oscar nominee, adapted screenplay, “American Sniper,” 2015); Zach Baylin (screenplay, “Creed III,” 2023; Oscar nominee, original screenplay, “King Richard,” 2022) and Alex Tse (screenplay, “The Watchmen,” 2009).

The screenplay pumps the brakes on the dialogue, which too often consists of terse sentences or one-word exhortations (“Commit,” “Focus,” “Get in the race,” Jack’s voice yells in Mardenborough’s headset) to the detriment of role development. The characters seem to whiz by nearly as fast as the race cars. You never really identify with them. Nor do you get to savor the actors’ performances.

“Gran Turismo” does some neat things on the track, video screen and movie screen. When Mardenborough is behind the wheel of the auto racing simulator, through the magic of Computer Generated Imagery, it assembles the race car around him. When Mardenborough is behind the wheel of the race car, projections mimic the simulator dashboard, colored lines create a path on the race track for his car, and numbers note the lap and race position of his car. The movie’s point-of-view frequently puts you in the race car’s seat.

If you’re a fan of auto racing, you will identify with the wheel-to-wheel racing action, overhead aerial drone shots of the races, and wall-to-wall roaring engine sounds. Although the credits acknowledge soundtrack composers, the whining engines will ring in your ears.

What may stick with you are songs by Black Sabbath (“Paranoid,” “War Pig”), Jack’s favorite heavy-metal band, and instrumentals by Kenny G (“Songbird”) and songs by Enya (“Orinico Flow”), Mardenborough’s favorite jams.

Motor heads will love the authentic race cars. Mardenborough gets behind the wheel of a Nissan R35 GT-R, Nissan 370Z NISMO and Ligier-Nissan LMP racer (for the “24 Hours of Le Mans” race), which looks like a Batmobile. Among the cars competing in races are a Lamborghini Huracán, Audi R8, Porsche 911 and Ferrari 458.

“Gran Turismo” joins a garage full of racing car feature movies, including “Ford V Ferrari” (2019), ”Rush” (2013), “Cars” (2017, 2006),”Speed Racer” (2008), “Days of Thunder” (1990), “Stroker Ace” (1983), “Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo” (1977), “Le Mans“ (1971), ”Grand Prix” (1966), “Spinout” (1966) and “Red Line 7000” (1965).

Oh, and don’t forget “Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby” (2006), which “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan said is one of his favorite comedies.

“Gran Turismo” takes the checkered flag for fans of motorsports, “Gran Turismo” video gamers and those who enjoy the “need for speed.”

“Gran Turismo,”

MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for intense action and some strong language; Genre: Drama, Sport; Run time: 2 hours, 14 minutes. Distributed by Sony-Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

The “Gran Turismo” end credits include information and photographs about the real-life Jann Mardenborough, a producer of the movie and stunt driver in the movie, filling in for Archie Madekwe, who portrays Mardenborough.

At The Movies:

“Gran Turismo” was seen in the Dolby Cinema at AMC, AMC Center Valley 16, the recommended viewing format for the movie.

Theatrical Movie Domestic Weekend Box Office,

Sept. 8-10: “The Nun II,” which is not a remake of a Sally Field movie, but the latest horror film in “The Conjuring” franchise, flew to No. 1, opening with $32.6 million in 3,728 theaters, scaring “The Equalizer 3” from its one-week shot at No. 1 with $12.1 million in 3,965 theaters, $61.8 million, two weeks, and keeping “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” opening at No. 3 with $10 million in 3,650 theaters, as “Jawan,” a Hindi-language action thriller film from India, opened at No. 4 with $6.1 million in 813 theaters and $7.5 million since opening Sept. 7, and “Barbie “ dropped three places from No. 2 to No. 5 with $5.9 million in 3,281 theaters, $620.4 million, eight weeks.

6. “Blue Beetle” dropped three places, $3.7 million in 2,786 theaters, $63.7 million, four weeks. 7. “Gran Turismo” dropped three places, $3.3 million in 2,765 theaters, $35.6 million, three weeks. 8. “Oppenheimer” dropped three places, $3 million in 2,091 theaters, $315.1 million, eight weeks. 9. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” dropped three places, $2.6 million in 2,500 theaters, $111.3 million, six weeks. 10. “Bottoms” dropped three places, $2 million in 1,265 theaters, $7.6 million, three weeks.

Movie box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Sept. 10 is subject to change.

Theatrical Movie Domestic Weekend Box Office,

Sept. 1-3: “The Equalizer 3” returned its star Denzel Washington and his five-time collaborator director Antoine Fuqua to No. 1, with $34.6 million for the weekend in 3,965 theaters and $42.8 million for the Labor Day weekend, the second biggest opening for the holiday weekend after “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” $94.7 million (2021).

2. “Barbie” stayed in place with $10.2 million in 3,586 theaters, $609 million, seven weeks. 3. “Blue Beetle” stayed in place, $7.1 million in 3,316 theaters, $56.4 million, three weeks. 4. “Gran Turismo” dropped three places from its one-week place on the No. 1 podium, $6.6 million in 3,856 theaters, $28.7 million, two weeks. 5. “Oppenheimer” dropped one place, $5.7 million in 2,543 theaters, $308.7 million, seven weeks. 6. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” dropped one place, $4.6 million in 2,955 theaters, $106.3 million, five weeks. 7. “Bottoms” upped 12 places, $3 million in 715 theaters, $3.7 million, two weeks. 8. “Meg 2: The Trench” dropped one place, $2.8 million in 2,371 theaters, $78.3 million, five weeks. 9. “Strays” dropped three places, $2.5 million in 2,486 theaters, $20.7 million, three weeks. 10. “Talk to Me” stayed in place, $1.8 million in 1,075 theaters, $44.1 million, six weeks.

Movie box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Sept. 7 is subject to change.


Sept. 15:

“A Haunting in Venice,”

PG-13: Kenneth Branagh directs Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey and himself in the Crime Drama Horror film. Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), based on the Agatha Christie character, is back in action post-World War II Venice.

Movie opening date information from Internet Movie Database as of Sept. 10 is subject to change.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED IMAGE BY SONY PICTURES Zoom, zoom zoom: From left: Archie Madekwe (Jann Mardenborough), David Harbour (Jack), “Gran Turismo.”