Vampire Academy finally released in India yesterday, and after five years of waiting, I spent my V(A)-Day with Dimitri and Christian on the big screen. The film adaptation, based on the first book of Richelle Mead’s series, released last week in North America to some harsh critical reviews and a poor box office. This in turn made me anxious to see the film and I was starting to feel sure it would disappoint me. Guess what fangirls and boys? It did not. We’ve covered the release of the film these past few months and now we are going to discuss the film, without (any major) spoilers so that all of you can go watch and enjoy it.
For the uninitiated, the story is about Rose Hathaway, a half-human, half-vampire Dhampir girl who is best friends with Lissa Dragomir, a Moroi vampire princess and must save her not only from the threats of the undead Strigoi that lurk in the shadows but also the threats that lurk within the halls of their school, St. Vladimir’s Academy.
The most wonderful thing about this film has to be the performances from the cast. When the casting was announced last year, there was a huge uproar in the “Vampire Academy” fandom with many fans turning their backs on the film (some still don’t accept the casting). This is rather unfortunate, because the cast captures the characters so well and as the author, Richelle Mead, has stated on numerous occasions, the actors GET their characters.
Zoey Deutch owns Rose Hathaway and no one can be Rose anymore in my head. When she’s onscreen, you forget all about Zoey from her interviews because she’s gone and in her place, stands Rose – fun loving, fast talking, flawed Rose Hathaway.
Lucy Fry as Lissa really surprised me. I was still unsure about her from the clips but she brought Lissa to life as a soul that is at first kind and gentle and later all buzzed up and peppy.
Danila Kozlovsky … what can I say about this Russian man except that he lit up the screen as Dimitri Belikov with his scenes, whether it was the badass training sequences or the badass fighting sequences or the scenes with his smile that basically could melt all of Frozen’s Arrendale. I could basically listen to a tape with him saying the words “Roza, Roza” continuously.
Now Dominic Sherwood basically IS Christian Ozera. There is no denying it and there is no fighting it. He IS Christian Ozera with all his creepy talk at first and then that sadness in his eyes when he talks about his Strigoi parents and then his longing for Lissa and then BAM the next thing you know is that you are all head over heels in love with Christian who would do anything to protect Lissa.
The supporting characters did a great job with their scenes. Sarah Hyland was absolutely brilliant as the rambling Natalie and Cameron Monaghan, in his limited scenes, brought to life the love struck Mason who you can’t help but feel for as Rose ignores his feelings towards her. Sami Gayle as Mia was just short of delivering the mean girl, perhaps because of her limited scenes and the fact that they revealed her story to the audience a little earlier than in the book. Claire Foy played “Crazy Karp” just like I’d imagined and though Olga Kurylenko‘s Kirova was a little spiced up, it didn’t affect the story.
Book to movie adaptations all suffer changes and purist fans of books often renounce the film version. It is true that most book adaptations now days do not do the story any justice, especially as seen in the recent The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones film where some changes took away from the spirit of the book, even if necessary.
In the case of Vampire Academy, fans that are staying away are completely missing out on how true this film is to the book. Yes there are changes; some of these changes are required to explain things to the audience while some other changes make things grander (seriously guys, explosions and fights make things better on screen). Then there are a few changes like the following that simply roll three different scenes from the book into one, case in point – the classroom fire scene.
This scene combined three classroom scenes from the book, firstly, when Mia and Ralf accuse Lissa of killing the fox and Christian sets Ralf on fire, secondly, where Rose and Lissa are passing notes to each other and are caught by the teacher, Mr. Nagy who reads it out aloud, and finally, another when the rumours start spreading about Rose in class and the someone shouts out “Rose, I bleed for you,” which is also included in the film! While we would have liked more classroom scenes than we got, it is understandable that the included all three scenes in one because of time constraints.
There are also some minor changes, such as the use of British accents amongst the royal Moroi and of course the fact that Sami Gayle’s Mia is devoid of her curls, but these are little things and don’t change character personalities or the story. It can be hard for purists, but if you can let go of these small details and appreciate the true personalities of the character and the spirit of the story that is capture in the film, you will really enjoy the experience.
However, there are some scenes amiss that I would have really liked to see and these would have helped develop some characters more as well as explained things without the use of too much exposition in dialogue and voice-over (and while I can listen to Rose talk all the time, others aren’t too impressed by such things). A classroom scene with Guardian Stan could have helped explain the three classes of vampires (with the animation included from the music video) and the need for the Dhampirs to protect the Moroi. Some more scenes with Mason (which could have showcased his humour and interactions with Rose) and with Dimitri (to develop his relationship with Rose further, such as actually reprimanding her for being with Jesse) could have helped the script as well.
So, are those harsh reviews valid?
No. Fans of the book series know that the first book, on which the film is based, is not as good as the rest of the series and is full of high school drama and cheesy lines that are now quoted with cult like fervour (but which were missing in the film). They all know that the best parts with all the serious stuff and the darkness start from the second book onwards. Even if you haven’t read the books and watch this film, there is a huge possibility that you will enjoy it, especially if you don’t go in expecting too much out of it. It’s a fun film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and if you can give in for those 104 minutes, you are guaranteed to be entertained.
The film isn’t without its flaws and does fall short in its pacing, scene transitioning and editing. It has been speculated that the Studio (The Weinstein Company) cut out scenes to shorten the length of the film and one wonders that those scenes could have helped the film flow smoothly and in turn the film would have avoided such harsh critical scrutiny. For instance, the film had some great action scenes but there was not enough build up of tension leading to those scenes. Further, the arrival of the Queen was done very randomly and some scenes jumped in and out, almost out of sequence and such things can make non-book readers very confused.
Daniel Waters has adapted the book cleverly with his dark humour and Mark Waters brought out some great performances from the young cast of the film. However, the books (and any future films based on them) get progressively darker and while Mark Waters’ adaptation of the first one just about works with his mainstream vision, it might not be the case when it comes to the more serious films and perhaps a change in the creative team can help give the future films a bit more seriousness that comes with the future books. For this film, however, the team works, and while some scenes could have been added to help make the film flow smoothly, it is in no way a poor film.
From most of the reviews, it seems that critics didn’t even TRY to understand what was happening and most certainly walked in “knowing” they will dislike it – although from some reviews it’s hard to make out whether they wrote the piece after watching the trailer or the movie because they have no idea what the film is about. Further, it doesn’t do any good that they try and compare it to previous works just because it is a fantasy film catering to younger women.
Why the film failed to get the numbers?
As is widely known, the film didn’t generate enough in ticket sales this past weekend in North America. If anything – or anyone – is to be blamed, it is the marketing of this film. For months, the trailers have passed it off as a Mean Girls-esque comedy and they couldn’t have been more misleading. The film is not Mean Girls 2.0 and while it retains its sarcastic humour from the book, it isn’t slapstick funny either.
Further, the neon green poster with the pink tagline that said “They Suck At School” was the worst idea ever. The film and the story is SO MUCH MORE than that stupid tagline which not only keep non-readers away but also alienated a huge percentage of the fanbase, most of whom will still not give it a chance. If only they could have marketed it with this absolutely EPIC music video featuring CHVRCHES’ cover of Bela Lugosi’s Dead – again, something that most people have unnecessarily criticised. Covers are not meant to be copies of the original work and the CHVRCHES’ version retains the haunting spirit of the song while making it accessible to an entirely new generation.
Why you still need to see it
Vampires may not be your thing and their recent invasion may have made you weary, but if you want a night out to watch a fun film, then Vampire Academy is right up your alley. Many film-goers, both from within the target demographic and outside it have enjoyed the film, such as this person below –
If you are a fan of Young Adult books and films, then supporting them by watching the movies is very important because there are some excellent book series (Shatter Me? The Fifth Wave? Hush Hush? anyone?) out there that depend on the success of films like The Mortal Instruments and Vampire Academy to be made into films themselves. So do give it a chance. If the reviews and fan reactions make you weary, check out the review from Page to Premiere who specialise in book-to-film adaptations and despite the film’s flaws, enjoyed it.
You may think that we may be biased (being a fansite and all that) but the fact is that the film is very enjoyable. Yes, it is not perfect and there are some flaws, but there are also some great performances and some fascinating sequences. Further, there is just something surreal and eerie about seeing these characters from our imaginations, brought to life with such precision.
A book and its film adaptation called “Vampire Academy” isn’t trying to be life-changing or a critical darling – you can’t go in expecting Shakespearian prose. What it is, is pure entertainment with some great messages of friendship, love and loyalty. So all you need to do is give this film a chance because the story gets so much better from the second one onwards and with all that character development yet to come, you don’t want to miss out on some excellent performances by this cast in future films. Oh and of course, Adrian Ivashkov only enters the scene in the second book (incentive for the book readers).
If you’ve seen the film, check out some BTS videos and interviews with the cast below (spoilers).
For more coverage on the film, click here!
The Cast of #VAMovie (via @RegalLALive)
The worldwide premiere for Vampire Academy took place earlier today (February 4) and unfortunately there was no live telecast. But the Internet is not without it’s perks folks … and with all the live tweeting and photos popping up, we were all but caught up. Here is our coverage with tweets and photos.
The day started off with the cast tweeting about the premiere
Harry Bradshaw (@HarryBradshaw) February 04, 2014
Today's the day!!! Who's coming to the @VAOfficialMovie premiere tonight?!? So excited!!!!—
Sarah Hyland (@Sarah_Hyland) February 04, 2014
Cameron Monaghan (@CameronMonaghan) February 04, 2014
Show us what you can do! I hope to see lots if you tonight and on the 7th!!! Xxx—
Dominic Sherwood (@DomSherwood1) February 04, 2014
Dominique Tipper (@Mi55Tipper) February 04, 2014
On way to #VAPremiere !!!!! Finally, it's time!!!!!!—
Sami Gayle (@GayleTweets8) February 05, 2014
Almost premiere time!!!! 😼 http://t.co/HxOQMyGBZ7—
Zoey Deutch (@ZoeyDeutch) February 05, 2014
So excited for the premiere tonight!!—
Lucy Fry (@LucyFry) February 05, 2014
Check out this video of the cast and guests arriving at the premiere.
The red carpet (via @RegalLALive and @WeinsteinFilms)
Arrivals of the cast and crew (via Zimbio)
Check out some group pictures from the night (via Zimbio)
Many lucky fans also had the opportunity to meet the cast and one of them took this really awesome video of Zoey and Danila meeting at the premiere.
Later on, the cast and crew went to the After Party. Check out some photos below (via Zimbio)
Tonight was the first time that many had the opportunity to see the film for the first time and reactions poured in from all over (mostly positive though I’ve caught a few negative ones [three], but hey, can’t deny the existence of the Strigoi, can we). Some tweets are shown below –
@VAOfficialMovie was amazing! Worth seeing for sure—
Jackson Pace (@jacksonpace) February 05, 2014
I went into the Vampire Academy movie with no expectations and I totally loved it.—
Kate Spencer (@katespencer) February 05, 2014
It's not perfect but it totally won me over. Focus is on female friendship with ass-kicking girls & funny moments. Bonus: hot dudes.—
Kate Spencer (@katespencer) February 05, 2014
So Vampire Academy was great! You did so good @CameronMonaghan!! So happy for you.—
Emma Kenney (@EmmaRoseKenney) February 05, 2014
Chelsea Myers (@thechelseamyers) February 05, 2014
Josh Page (@TenorJoshPage) February 05, 2014
I'VE SEEN @VAOfficialMovie! My thoughts: hilarious, action packed, Danila is a god, Zoey was amazing! I want more! Go see it on Feb. 7th!—
Natasha Polis (@Tashapolis) February 05, 2014
jenn/yabooktwins (@jenreadsfiction) February 05, 2014
Vampire Academy was pretty awesome! 👏😏—
Vanessa (@Nessiee__) February 05, 2014
april (@lirpACano) February 05, 2014
Yoooo #VampireAcademy is such a good movie 👌 defiantly recommend watching it + cute guys 😏—
(@PincheMitchy) February 05, 2014
Cast and crew of Vampire @VAOfficialMovie did excellent work because the movie was really good! Great for both fans of book & not fans—
alex (@MortalDhampir) February 05, 2014
Katherine McNamara (@Kat_McNamara) February 05, 2014
Charlotte Gleason (@charworks) February 05, 2014
Greer Grammer (@Greer_Grammer) February 05, 2014
So there we have it folks, the premiere is done and the film releases this Friday in the US/Canada and slowly takes over the world in the next few weeks and months. The movie certainly sounds enjoyable and as a fan who desperately wants the sequels … all I can ask is that you guys watch it on opening weekend – this weekend, preferably Friday night!
I know, I know, the film’s been out for two weeks all over the world, but India was a little late to catch the fire. Thankfully, it did, however late, but it did, and I was there at the cinema, ready at 9 AM to catch the first show of the morning and feel the goosebumps take over me! So what better way to relive the film than making note of all the top gooseflesh inducing moments, the moments that made you cry, made you smile, made you want to fist pump the air and the moments that made your jaws drop and made you want to do the three finger salute in solidarity with the characters.
[Warning: Book and Film SPOILERS ahead, tread with caution.]
1. The start of the film
Catching Fire begins with Katniss out in the woods as Gale comes up to her. She displays PTSD when she tries to hunt a bird and sees her arrow killing Marvel (tribute from the previous film) instead. Gale kisses Katniss as they return home. Katniss then visits Haymitch and wakes him up by pouring water on him (or in Haymitch’s words – by giving him pneumonia) as Peeta enters. Katniss then returns to her home where she finds President Snow in her study, who warns her of the consequences of hers actions.
Goosebumps factors – The scenes, the sequence of events and even the dialogue mirror the start of the book and the film sets off with a bang, telling the audience that this will indeed be a faithful adaptation.
2. The Tour Montage
Peeta and Katniss set off for their Victory tour and the first stop is District 11, where Katniss gets emotional after seeing Rue’s family. An older gentleman in the crowd then sings the mockingjay tune and raises his three fingers in salute which results in mayhem as the Peacekeepers drag the man out and shoot him, leaving Peeta and Katniss in absolute shock. The rest of the tour goes on with both Peeta and Katniss only reading from Effie’s prepared speeches as the scenes cut in between to show the growing dissent and Katniss getting nightmares on the train journeys.
Goosebumps factor – The scene in District 11 really gives the audience an indication of the dystopian setting of the world and how cruel and unjust the government is. The man’s shooting and Jennifer Lawrence’s subsequent trembling and fear make you cry out, literally, from all the emotions. The montage builds up the chaos of rebellion and really sets up the audience to hope for change.
3. Gale’s whipping
Katniss tries to convince Gale to run away with their families because of the unrest and impending threat, but with whispers of a rebellion brewing, Gale wants to stay and fight. At the same time, Peacekeeper forces enter District 12 and carry out raids, shutting down the Hob and rounding off anyone they think is dealing in illegal activities. Gale tackles a Peacekeeper, which earns him a whipping at the hands of Chief Peacekeeper Thread. Katniss, Haymitch and Peeta save Gale and take him back to Katniss’ home where a composed Prim takes over to heal him.
Goosebumps factor – Seeing any one receive a thrashing, especially at the hands of the Capitol is enough to evoke emotions from the audience, but when that person is our beloved Gale, it hurts even more. Katniss’ defiance was inacted perfectly by Jennifer Lawrence and made me want to fist pump the air and cheer our heroes on to take out the nasty Capitol. This scene still gives me goosebumps, even when I’m watching it in the trailer.
4. The Reaping
Just when you thought you were safe and sound the Capitol intervenes and wants to take you out. Even Effie gets emotional at the reaping as she puts her hand into the bowl to select the lone female tribute. Katniss and Peeta are whisked away as Prim calls out. Katniss doesn’t get a chance to say goodbye and she knows she’ll never see her family again.
Goosebumps factor – The thought that you have to walk into the jaws of death and never even get to say goodbye to the family you are leaving behind. I’m shaking here thinking about it.
5. The Old Victors become the New Tributes
The new tributes are introduced and the gorgeous and charming Finnick Odair (played to perfection by Sam Claflin) enters the screen and steals the show, as he offers Katniss a sugar cube. Johanna Mason (again played so well by Jena Malone) catches Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta in the elevator where she strips down to her bare essentials without raising an eyebrow. We meet the other tributes and watch them show off their strengths in the training center and voice their anger in the interviews. Finally, after seeing Katniss transform into a mockingjay, the tributes hold hands together in a show of camaraderie.
Goosebumps factors – You know you are only fooling yourself if you think Finnick’s appearance on screen didn’t make you swoon and raise your pulse. Katniss’ expressions when Chaff kisses her and when Johanna strips down in the elevator are priceless. The show of unison between the victors makes you want them to murder President Snow right then. The interview scenes with Peeta’s painting of Rue, which leads to an angry Katniss putting up an effigy of a dead man with the name “Seneca Crane” written on it, is chilling. Finally the moments when Caesar Flickerman is on screen, those are always awesome.
6. The Build-Up
Even before we enter the arena for the 75th Hunger Games, we have a few moments which are downright emotional and heartbreaking. Katniss and Peeta spend a few private moments together, now that they are friends and trust each other completely. Effie hugs Peeta and Katniss and gets upset when she says her goodbyes, Haymitch reminds Katniss of the real enemy and Cinna gets beaten up savagely as a helpless Katniss looks on from inside the capsule.
Goosebump factor – It’s the big send off to the death and everyone knows it, but no one can say it. Also, it is the last time we see Cinna, sobbing here you guys, sobbing uncontrollably.
7. The Arena
Once in the arena, new dangers emerge, allies are formed and sacrifices are made. Danger strikes again and again, in the forms of poisonous fog, scary monkey mutts, lightening, giant waves, blood rain, jabberjays and the career tributes. When Peeta hits the force field and loses consciousness, Finnick revives him as a desperate Katniss cries on, and when he collapses after the fog touches him, Mags throws herself into the fog so Finnick can carry him. They run into Johanna, Beetee and Wiress, whose constant mutter of “tick tock” makes Katniss realise that the arena is a clock and all the disasters happen at given times. Beetee then devises a plan to electrocute the other career tributes as Katniss grows weary of the three tagging along with her and Peeta.
Goosebump factors – The entire arena sequence, I’d say. The action is continuous and something or the other is constantly happening, propelling the film toward it’s climax. Noteworthy scenes include Mags’ sacrifice, a frantic Finnick saving Peter, “Tick Tock” and the moment when the cornucopia island spins to reset the clock, as they all hang on for life. A particularly heartwarming moment occurs when Peeta gives Katniss his locket which contains photographs of her mother, sister and Gale. They share an emotional conversation and a passionate kiss. These scenes were straight out of the book folks and filmed to perfection.
8. The Climax
As Beetee devises his plan and covers the lightening tree with his wire, he directs Katniss and Johanna to take the connecting thread to the beach and wants Peeta and Finnick to protect him. Katniss protests but leaves with Johanna and book readers soon realise that her last glimpse of Peeta is our last glimpse of him in this film. Things go wrong as Brutus and Enobaria emerge on the tails of the two girls and Johanna hits Katniss, taking out her tracking device. Katniss goes out to look for Peeta and finds an unconscious Beetee. She turns her bow and arrow on Finnick who reminds her of the real enemy, echoing Haymitch’s words and then the world comes crashing down.
Goosebumps factor – The epic moment when Katniss has her bow and arrow set on Finnick and he’s reminding her of the real enemy with President Snow watching them from the Control Room. Our hearts stop beating for a moment until Katniss finally takes out the force field enclosing the arena and gets blasted off her feet.
9. The Ending
When Katniss wakes up in the Hovercraft and discovers the true nature of the rebellion, she attacks Haymitch, calling him a liar as she learns that he failed to keep his promise to her and protect Peeta, who is now in the Capitol. The last scene of the film has Katniss wake up to Gale who tells her that District 12 was destroyed and they are now in District 13. Katniss becomes disheartened and then determined as she stares into the camera and the lights fade.
Goosebump factor – When Katniss is staring into the camera, her eyes burn with rage and fire as the screen fades to black. The mockingjay symbol then comes alive in preparation for the next film.
10. The music, the performances, the production
The book was pretty epic, so we all knew that if the film is faithful, it would be pretty epic too. But the ingredients that contribute to really giving you goosebumps all over, to make you cry and laugh and weep with joy or tremble in fear are things like the brilliant acting, the music score running in the background, the production values and Catching Fire achieves this all with a stellar cast, a beautiful score by James Newton Howard and great direction with Francis Lawrence, new to the franchise and who is also directing the final two Mockingjay films.
Catching Fire makes book fans believe that it is absolutely possible to make films that honour the books by being faithful to them. This is a particularly interesting point since most of the recent book adaptations that have been released have failed to make an impression and this has been attributed to the fact that they do veer off course of the material in the book. It’s really simple for filmmakers – if they want a hit film on their hands, they need to stay true to the books with all the moments, scenes and dialogues.
With Catching Fire ending in a cliffhanger, many fans will surely turn to the books to find out what happens next. For the big screen version, the wait is a little longer, as the first installment of Mockingjay is due for release on November 21, 2014.
(Images from tumblr are linked to their source tumblr pages)
What did you think of Catching Fire?
This holiday season, the makers of Tangled and Wreck-it-Ralph, i.e. Walt Disney Animation Studios bring you a story unlike many other fairy tales that have been told before. Frozen is a heart-warming (despite the sub-zero weather depicted in the film) tale of two sisters and the adventures one of them goes through in order to bring back the other.
We did a post when the trailer for the film was released and included our reactions and stills from the film. The dialogues and interactions depicted in the trailer became widely popular even before the film was released and they will definitely be repeated long after the film has arrived on your DVD stores.
So why should you go watch a film about cold weather when it is already winter, you ask? Well, we give you five reasons why you should use this film to kick-off your 2013-14 holiday season!
1. A very different take on fairy tales!
Frozen has been adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen and as fairy tales usually to go, there is always a princess, a handsome prince and an evil queen/witch/sorceress out for vengeance. In the film however, there is no evil queen/witch/sorceress, instead it is the Crown Princess Elsa who is born with the gift of wielding ice magic. When Elsa loses control of her powers and runs away, her sister, Princess Anna joins forces with an ice trader and his reindeer to bring her back and restore Summer to the frozen city of Arrendale. Oh and there is also a handsome Prince involved.
Without spoiling the ending, I can say that the story highlights the importance of siblings and sisterhood, and the friendship the two share will make you want to pick up the phone and call that sibling (or BFF) and talk to them for hours. It is done in a very clever way and is a refreshing take on fairy tales of ages past.
2. The writing, the dialogues and the beautiful songs!
As mentioned above, the dialogues in this film are hilarious and the songs are beautiful and memorable. Musicals can get a bit tiresome, with song after song playing throughout the film, but in this case, as in most Disney animated films, the songs work and have been beautifully sung by the ensemble cast that consist of Hollywood and Broadway stars.
3. Olaf and the rest of the characters!
Olaf the snowman is the cutest thing EVER!!! His dreams mostly consist of wanting to experience the Sun and the Summer season, lie on a beach and swim in the sea, not realizing that he would melt and become a puddle of water. When he does start melting at one point in the film, Anna points it out to him and he simply replies saying “Some people are worth melting for.”
The characters in the film feel real and are relatable, be it awkward and hilarious Anna, quiet and reserved and wanting to be free, Queen Elsa and the charming and aloof Kristoff and his cute reindeer.
The supporting characters are well rounded off with the funny Duke of
Weaseltown Weselton, the handsome Prince Hans, the lovable shop owner Oaken and the cute and adorable trolls – no, not the Internet kind!
It can definitely be said that the actors lending their voices to these characters have done a great job in bringing them alive.
4. The Animation – it is a Disney film after all!
This is a Disney animated film, and like all other Disney animated films, the animation is spectacular, especially in 3D. The beautiful landscape and city of Arrendale was recreated after the crew members visited Canada to study the reflection of snow and ice, Norway to study the landscape and architecture as well as being inspired by the winter season in Wyoming, United States. And it all shows! From the aurora borealis in the night sky to the blizzard ravaging the city to the exquisite ice castle, the visuals are a delight in the film!
5. Because it is the perfect way to kick-start the Holiday season!
Even though the film was in 3D, I sure did feel a sudden chill in the cinema as I watched Frozen. It gives you the feels as though you are there and with the Winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and holiday season upon us, it is the perfect feel good film to watch with your family and get into the spirit of December. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly, so sit back, relax and let the magic take over!
I grew up in the 90s, waking up to action-packed Formula 1 races on Sundays, watching Michael Schumacher take the championship in his blue Benetton car and then being ecstatic when he signed up with Ferrari where his battles with Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren were nothing short of legend! Formula 1 racing is as exciting today as it was back in the day, with great rivalries between drivers and teams fuelling the passion to win races and open that bottle of champagne on the podium.
However, there have been very few films that have been made about this world. A huge Formula 1 fan, Sylvester Stallone produced, wrote and starred in Driven, a 2001 racing film, which was originally intended to be about Formula 1 racing, but ended up being more of a drag! There are of course some great documentaries about the world of Formula 1, and the recent film Senna about the life and times of Ayrton Senna, world champion who died at the wheel, received much critical acclaim.
Earlier this weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the film Rush at the cinema, with my father (who instilled the passion for Formula 1 racing in me) and my younger brother (who is growing up to be an avid motorsports fan). I usually try and keep up with films in development, but this one came out of the blue, and I am so glad I caught this! Rush could very well be the film of the year and I am going to give you 10 reasons why you should be watching this film, as soon as possible!
10. Your introduction to Formula 1 racing.
The film is set between the years 1970-1976, when Formula 1 racing cars were drastically different to what they currently look like. Many of the rules and regulations have changed and the calendar is now jam-packed with races all across the world. Formula 1 racing is also much safer than what it used to be. What hasn’t changed, however, is the drama, the action, the rivalries, the glamour, the tension filled atmosphere as you cheer on your driver and team to the chequered flag and the rivalry between the Ferrari and McLaren racing teams!
There are six races remaining this season, including the Japanese, Indian, Abu Dhabi, American, and the Brazilian Grands Prix. Check out Formula1.com for dates and your local timings!
9. A film where “artistic licence” actually works out.
The film shows the great rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, but in reality, the two shared a one-bedroom apartment in the beginning of their careers and Lauda in his biography (To Hell and Back) described Hunt as an “open, honest to God pal”. The cinematic approach is always about a little exaggeration and film’s portrayal of the fierce rivalry between the two drivers, from the first moment the two lay eyes on each other, makes the it thrilling and takes the film to a whole other level.
RUSH (@rushthemovie) September 19, 2013
8. Transport yourself to a different world.
Formula 1 racing is all about high octane speed, thrilling chases and the music from the engines! It is best experienced on a racing track, but if you can’t make it to any of the Grands Prix, you can go watch Rush.
The cinematography (Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle – 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) allows you to go on the chase along with the racing cars, and you find yourself manoeuvring chicanes (corners) and overtaking rival drivers, all the while you are sitting in your cinema seat. The engine sounds will leave your hearts thumping and the editing (another Oscar winner Daniel P. Henley – The Da Vinci code, Angels and Demons) will get your adrenalin pumping as you watch the races unfold.
The world is further brought to life by the costumes, the colouring and the art/set decoration, all of which make the racing world of the ’70s exciting and thrilling!
7. Hans Zimmer scored the soundtrack.
The above title speaks for itself. Hans Zimmer’s original soundtrack can make any movie ten times more epic and the score kept playing in my head even after I had left the cinema and returned home. You can feel the goosebumps on your skin as you listen to the track ‘’Lost But Won’’ below.
The soundtrack also includes ’70s rock music by Dave Edmunds, Steve Winwood, Mud, Thin Lizzy, and David Bowie.
6. The excellent supporting cast.
The film was cast by Nina Gould (Game of Thrones, Les Misérables, The Iron Lady and The King’s Speech) and every actor played their part to utter perfection. Whether it was Natalie Dormer’s Nurse Gemma, Olivia Wilde’s Suzy Miller, Alexandra Maria Lara’s Marlene Knaus, Pierfrancesco Favino’s Clay Regazzione, Stephen McKay’s Lord Hesketh or Stephan Manghan’s Alistair Caldwell, each performance was memorable. The two gentlemen who offer a ride to Niki and Marlene in the Italian countryside were delightful additions. Even the small glimpse of Enzo Ferrari (played by Augusto Dallara) sitting by the testing track was a great addition to the film.
5. Ron Howard’s direction and vision.
It is no secret that two-time Oscar winner Ron Howard delivers with his films. From A Beautiful Mind to The Da Vinci Code and Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard has handled stories across a range of genres and can really bring both heart and adrenalin to his films. This film has vision, it has pace and I can’t think of a single moment where I looked at the time on my watch (yes, there are plenty of films that make you look at your watch for the time), but there were some moments, where I literally shifted towards the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was up next!
4. Brilliant writing, witty dialogues and faithful characterisations.
Academy Award nominated screenwriter, Peter Morgan is known for greats such as The Last King of Scotland, The Queen and Frost/Nixon. His writing his fast-paced and the personality of his characters are faithful to their real life counterparts, mostly thanks to the witty dialogue and lines delivered by the actors, which leave you smirking, laughing and on the edge of your seat with excitement! It doesn’t matter if you are only a Niki Lauda or a James Hunt fan, because by the end of the movie, you can’t help but root for both of them, even though you started the film rooting for only one, and that is something I really enjoyed about this film.
My favourite line from the movie (not verbatim) was about how you learn more from your enemies than from your friends.
3. The leading men – Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.
The performances of the two leads are just remarkable. After watching the film, I came home and watched interviews of Niki Lauda and James Hunt on YouTube. Needless to say, I was blown over for the second time that day.
Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) captures the ‘’live in the moment’’ attitude of James Hunt with ease and you’d never believe he is Australian, because his British accent was absolutely perfect. You can also fangirl over the fact that you get to see Thor’s butt in the film (I didn’t because the nude scenes had been cut out and censored in India). German actor Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds and the upcoming The Fifth Estate) channels Niki Lauda so perfectly, that you’d be confused when seeing Lauda’s actual photographs and interviews. His dialogue delivery is sharp and he captures Lauda’s spirit and attitude with remarkable precision.
Niki Lauda’s interview.
James Hunt’s interview.
The trailer, although to get a full impact of the performances, you’ll have to watch the film.
The chemistry between the two actors also came across in their exchanges, with the rivalry pouring out from the screen. The two deserve Oscar nominations and but maybe I’ll give a little bit more of an edge to Daniel Brühl for a possible Oscar nod. Add to the fact that these two guys are absolutely GORGEOUS!!! (Why are you still here … go watch this film!)
2. Get Inspired!
In fiction, the lead protagonists overcome all the obstacles in their path and rise to the occasion. These are fun to read, and watch, and can even inspire, but at the end of the day it is still fiction. One aspect of this film that makes it even more brilliant is the fact that it is based on a true story! Niki Lauda’s accident, his painful recovery and his drive to come back to the race track while still in bandages (and finish in a great position) is nothing short of inspiring. At this very moment during the film, my father turned to me and said “This is why I have a Niki Lauda jacket.”
It is easy to lose hope and give up, it is equally difficult to get back up and show the middle finger to your fears. But if you can do the latter, you can achieve anything in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are a racing fan or not, the film isn’t just about the 1976 Formula 1 season, or the great rivalry between Lauda and Hunt. The film, above and beyond, is a about human will and determination. As the film’s tagline says “Everyone is driven by something”, whether it be passion or rivalry, or an equal mix of both!
1. Watch it because it is a masterpiece of a film.
I wasn’t intending on writing a review of the film when I went to watch it, but it is safe to say that I am now obsessed with this masterpiece of a film and it is a film that must be watched by everyone! My brother is divided between copying the actions of James Hunt (flicking of the lighter) and sporting Niki Lauda’s messy hairstyle. My father is equally in awe, having actually witnessed these races on television in the 1970s and for him it is one of the best films he has seen in a while (the other one being an Indian biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag starring Farhan Akhtar). And I’m here reliving the film while writing this article, with the beautifully haunting soundtrack playing in the background.
Chris Hemsworth with James Hunt’s son, Tom Hunt at the Toronto International Film Festival.
RUSH (@rushthemovie) September 09, 2013
Daniel Brühl with Niki Lauda at the Toronto International Film Festival.
RUSH (@rushthemovie) September 09, 2013
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to go watch this film, because it needs that recognition. In addition, I hope I’ve also convinced you to watch Formula 1 races! You only need to look at these bad boys to go watch a rerun of the Singapore Grand Prix from early today and catch up on the season!
And if that isn’t enough incentive … the following gallery just might be!
Do you plan to go watch Rush? If you’ve seen the film, what was your favourite part? Let us know below!