Gran Marketing

Jann Mardenborough, Gran Turismo’s true life protagonist, entered his first Gran Turismo Academy race in 2011. That’s an important note – at that time, Gran Turismo was on PlayStation 3. Not once does that game appear in the movie. Instead, they use the latest versions.

It seems like nerdy semantics, but it’s important. Gran Turismo, billed as an underdog sports story, is a triumph… of marketing. Sony, not wanting their videogame racing franchise to appear anything less than perfect, recast their own product to make sure what was shown was the latest and greatest. Gran Turismo isn’t a movie so much as it a commercial.

It’s not boring, but Gran Turismo is eye-rolling

Mardenborough’s story is screen worthy; it’s a surreal one. But, aside from featuring a deadly crash, it’s a safe, familiar, cautious retelling that does anything and everything to put products and logos in front of the viewer. Mardenborough (played by the excellent Archie Madekwe) exists in a cliche version of family drama with the doubtful father. His coach has his one last shot at redemption after a failed career. Mardenborough must overcome familiar odds to achieve his fame. It’s a sports movie in all forms, but one written to satisfy financiers first and tell a story second.

Orlando Bloom appears early in Gran Turismo, playing the Nissan marketing executive who hatched the idea to use game players in the real world. This makes Nissan look cool, the company who respected and understood the digital world. As a whole, Gran Turismo’s familiar form exists to backup Sony’s own marketing with regards to their racing series – it’s so real, drivers use it themselves.

In 1989, Nintendo and Universal co-produced The Wizard, a more blatant merging of the two mediums, but for the same reasons as Gran Turismo. The schmaltz of The Wizard is no more, replaced by exceptional digital effects and in-game displays that make the real and simulated one in the same.

Gran Turismo doesn’t have much of anything to say, or rather, at least not beyond a “follow your dreams” fable told better in countless other films of this ilk. It’s not boring, but Gran Turismo is eye-rolling, asking actors like Djimon Honsou to spout embarrassingly generic lines to set up his doubtful father figure role. Hallmark makes films with more authenticity than Gran Turismo, and on those same terms, those films are just as predictable too.

Video

Blisteringly clear digital video, shot at full 4K, spares nothing in detail. It’s crisp, sharp, and precise throughout, making full use of this format. Texture swells. In close, facial definition excels. From afar, the cities and race tracks appear in their fullest glory; there isn’t a pixel out of place.

Dolby Vision satisfies via its bright contrast. The sun-baked tracks and metal reflections push peak nits to exceptional heights. Even cityscapes do the same, notably those at night. It’s masterfully done, with black levels providing the necessary backing.

Color grading sticks with a natural tone, exacting flesh tones and bold primaries wonderfully presented. When needed, say paint schemes on the cars, everything will glow with proper vividness, but never overstep. It’s perfect video.

Audio

Engines throb from the outset, and that’s a regular occurrence in Gran Turismo. Range is ridiculously good, great even, putting Gran Turismo among some of the elite discs. A trip to a dance club in Tokyo is pure LFE spectacle. Maybe it’s not as powerful as Oppenheimer, but Gran Turismo finds a balance that works for the story.

Vehicles sweep across the soundstage during the action scenes, but that doesn’t mean it’s quiet elsewhere. Ambient races fill space when trackside. Rain stands out for its spectacular ambient design. In cities, the sound elevates, filling the rears and even the heights. Helicopters above the races have their rotors spinning in the overheads. This mix doesn’t miss an opportunity to utilize the full width of the theater.

Extras

Aside from deleted/extended scenes, Sony includes four featurettes, the main one of interest focused on the true story.

Gran Turismo
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Stock sports movie drama feeds Gran Turismo’s marketing edge, seemingly the only reason it was made.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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