Thursday, September 25, 2014

Need For Speed

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I feel the need...the need for--nope, actually the feeling just passed.

Need For Speed – 1 out of 5

When it comes to adapting pieces of pop culture, nothing has proven to be harder than video games. Sometimes things take time to get right. Comic book properties are just now starting to get the treatment they deserve, so maybe it is just a matter of time before video games get the same respect. I dunno, but for every Mortal Kombat we get, we are forced to endure Street Fighter: The Movie, Super Mario Bros., and more. Need For Speed proves that it is still a rather difficult uphill battle to make games come to life in the world of movies…of course, choosing a racing game to make a Fast and the Furious wannabe might not have been the best property to pick. Although, it does give me hope that someday someone will buy my Cruisin’ USA script…
Eh, that guy will be fine.

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a really great street racer that, one day, ends up getting mixed up with his old rival; Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). After employing him for a job, Dino, Tobey and Tobey’s partner agree to an illegal street race. The race ends in tragedy as the partner is killed and, after Dino flees the scene, Tobey is held responsible for the death. After being released from prison, Tobey wants revenge and, apparently, the only way to do that is to join a street race (wait, wut?). A race that is orchestrated and set up by a mysterious man named the Monarch (Michael Keaton). Well, Dino will have none of that shit, so he tosses out a bounty on Tobey’s head and now every racer extra that never made final-cut in a Furious film is out to stop him from racing and avenging his partner.
"I know I'm a rival of yours but I assure you that nothing bad will happen if we work together."

My expectations for Need For Speed was a film that wasn’t going to end up in my permanent rotation but had the potential to be a mildly amusing racing film that, while not entirely incredible or game-changing, might have been fun. Sadly, it turned out to be none of these and just was a slow-moving story (strange for a movie about speed) with a ridiculous premise and no real memorable moments…unless you count how crazy Aaron Paul looked behind the wheel.
Maybe he looked crazy because he suddenly teleported to Ireland.

There’s no denying that Aaron Paul was freaking incredible in Breaking Bad but lightning didn’t strike twice in this post-Heisenberg venture. Paul’s performance comes off lazy as he stays in one gear (no pun) and remains there for most of the movie. There’s little to no emotional development to him during the entire run. In fact, most of the film he comes off like a dickhead whose revenge plan feels more like the psychotic plot of a madman and it's all because of the way Paul plays Tobey. Often Paul’s character will not look at other characters because he’s "too cool" and "too edgy" for eye contact but this makes the character look like an asshole from the moment the film starts. 
"I'm just way too cool to give you eye contact for more than a second out of
my peripherals."
Things aren’t helped by the fact that they film decided to make an entire scene with the only real female character in the film (Imogen Poots) and have her come off as ignorant to the ways of fast cars only to have (record scratch) it found out she knows a lot about cars. And all this mystifies and pisses off Aaron Paul’s character.  Still not quite in this century, are we Need For Speed?   
What?!?  A woman is capable of knowing about cars?  This changes everything, movie!
I honestly couldn’t tell if the production wanted me to dislike or cheer for Tobey Marshall. Yes, his best friend died but he comes off like an arrogant dick the entire film and that made it impossible to really have any empathy towards him.  It didn’t help that his facial features while racing looked less like a determined and skilled racer and more like a crazy person…
"They said I was crazy but I'll show them who's crazy.  I'll kill them all.  That'll
show 'em!"

A man who clearly is racing because he has to get to the next bathroom and fast…
"Hold it...hold it.  Concentrate, Tobey.  I can't let this gas station egg salad sandwich win.
There's a rest area about 5 miles away, I can make it..."

Or like his dog just died…
"I loved that dog...if only it wasn't me who hit him while I was street racing..."

It was really hard to take any moment in this film seriously or find any of these moments enjoyable or cool when your star looks freaked the fuck out to be driving.
Ha, just like in the video games!

I think the goal of this film was to make us want Breaking Bad
to come back...if it was, it worked.
This might have been something to look beyond, especially since it’s hard to not hold some kind of candle for Aaron Paul because of Breaking Bad, if only the racing scenes were fast paced and action packed. If action packed and fast pace meant that most of the action scenes were driver reaction shots and slow-moving drifting and drivers cutting almost all speed in order to cut off innocent motorists, then it is that. But that’s not what action packed and fast pace mean, so it wasn’t that at all. Say what you will about the simplistic stories in the Fast and the Furious franchise but those films know how to show off racing and they know how to make them look cool and exciting. Need For Speed failed at this completely and the failure is only compounded when each short racing sequence is followed by boring and dragging narrative from a story that feels too silly to exist…even in the world of video games.
Fun Fact:  These cars were going the speed limit.  The need to speed just wasn't there.

The only real saving grace the film has is the short scenes with Michael Keaton being the charismatic Monarch. While his role is basically a talk radio/gameplay announcer when it concerns racing and his infamous race that will magically bring about the evidence that Dino was responsible for the death of Tobey’s partner (and it does but in a really silly way…and in such a silly way that the character of Monarchy literally has to explain to the audience what happened—I guess the production didn’t think too highly of the audience for this one) it just isn't enough to really win me over with this snoozer. Keaton is just a great performer and he delivers his all for this short role and I’m not sure why he did. He could have easily phoned it in and it would have been on level with the rest of the film but he didn’t and proved to be the only working part of this film.
"Hi, I'm Michael Keaton and I'm too good for this film."

Need For Speed is just another example of how insanely difficult it is to make a video game adaptation. Sure, Need For Speed is a racing game with very little meat to it to make it a film with dynamic characters and a coherent plot but Battleship is just a board game and they were able to make that into a working movie—no, wait…that one was a failure too. I guess, maybe, adapting a racing game wasn’t the best or most thought out decision and was probably just done in order to get some quick Fast and the Furious spill-over cash…that would explain the final product and how much thought went into it. At the very least, however, it’s sorta surprising that Uwe Boll somehow didn’t manage to direct this one.


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