Today marks the UK theatrical release of the Gran Turismo movie starring Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, and Orlando Bloom. Unfortunately, despite positive early reactions, Gran Turismo is getting slated in media reviews, with critics panning the cliched storyline and abundant product placement.
The critics aren't holding back, with several media outlets awarding one and two-star reviews for the Gran Turismo movie.
What are critics saying about the Gran Turismo movie?
At the time of writing, the Gran Turismo movie has a 58% “rotten” critic rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes from 43 published reviews. This indicates Gran Turismo is getting average to negative media review scores. Its Metacritic score sits even lower at 47%. So why are critics slating the Gran Turismo movie?
One of the main issues critics have with Gran Turismo is the abundant product placement. This was perhaps to be expected for a Sony Pictures film based on a video game, but it’s fair to say the opening act feels like an extended advert for Gran Turismo.
In a scathing one-star review, The Telegraph calls it "an adoring advert for the game series” that “presents its creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, as a benevolent God.”
The Guardian also gave Gran Turismo one star, criticising its “chronic and “concussive” product placement. The publication concluded that Gran Turismo is “a simulation of cinema, with scarcely a human fingerprint anywhere on its chassis.”
Likewise, Empire felt the overabundance of advertising made the Gran Turismo movie feel like an “elaborate corporate branding exercise,” adding that “the main character here is not Jann, but Gran Turismo itself.”
In their two-star review, Empire also noted there’s “a complete dearth of tension” because “you know he’s going to win all the races.” Many critics couldn’t resist pointing out the irony that Orlando Bloom’s character’s “this entire thing is a marketing extravaganza!” line.
Even car and gaming-focused websites were left unimpressed with Gran Turismo. Top Gear feels the film “fails to tell us exactly why anyone actually enjoys playing the Gran Turismo game,” while Eurogamer calls Gran Turismo “a marketing exercise filled with contrived drama.”
On the positive side, David Harbour’s performance and the visceral racing scenes were often praised.
It will be interesting to see how Gran Turismo’s audience score compares to the critic score on Rotten Tomatoes once the film gets a wider release. It’s not unusual for crowd-pleasing films to have a significant disparity between audience and critic scores.
Time will ultimately tell how the Gran Turismo movie fares at the box office. Its release comes hot off the release of Barbie and Oppenheimer, two of the highest-grossing films of the year, so it may struggle to attract general audiences. That said, Gran Turismo is PlayStation's biggest gaming franchise, with over 90 million sales.
Read our Gran Turismo Movie review
In our review, we felt found Gran Turismo to be an entertaining ride. The racing scenes are some of the most exhilarating to grace the big screen and the retelling of Jann Mardenborough’s story is inspiring.
We did, however, find the product distracting at times, and the film relies too heavily on tropes you’ve seen in just about every underdog sports film. Some of the side characters and subplots were also unnecessary, which dragged out the runtime.
Regardless, we think Gran Turismo and racing fans will still have a great time at the cinema. It’s also refreshing to see sim racing represented in a big-budget Hollywood film. You can read our Gran Turismo movie review here.
Gran Turismo races into UK cinemas on 9 August. The US release is set for 25 August after a delay caused by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strikes. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Gran Turismo stars Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Geri Halliwell-Horner, and Djimon Hounsou.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Gran Turismo page.