Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Rush From Rush

Hunt and Lauda story could have been better 
Finally went to see Rush, the Formula One racing movie from director Ron Howard.

Maybe I wanted to like it too much, because I was disappointed.   My wife, on the other hand, liked it very much.  She’s not a big race fan and enjoyed the back story.

As a racing fan since the mid-60s, I was familiar with the racing side of the James Hunt-Niki Lauda story depicted in Rush.  The movie focuses on the 1976 season when Hunt and Lauda battled for the world championship and then Lauda battled to return following a fiery accident.

It wasn’t easy being a F1 fan back then, before Speed Channel and the internet made information instantly available.  If you were lucky there was a sentence or two in the Monday newspaper about the race and some agate type with the order of finish.  If a driver had died in the race, which happened all too often, it might be mentioned on the nightly sports cast. 

But for more information you had to wait at least a week for National Speed Sport News or AutoWeek and Competition Press, to be delivered in the mail.  And once a month Road & Track would bring you a more detailed account of each F1 event.  But never with the back room story provided in Rush.

Those who traveled the F1 circuit in the mid-‘70s say the animosity between Hunt and Lauda is overplayed in the film, that they had a great deal of respect for each other, and were actually much closer than the film depicts.   But then friction makes for a better movie.  I get that.

What really disappointed me about Rush was the racing.  It was surprisingly s-l-o-w.  At times the cars and the racing seemed in slow motion – even when it wasn’t.  Replica cars built on junior formula racers were used in many of the racing scenes and it shows; they look boxy and bulky.  The occasional use of computer generated graphics was easy to spot, and often downright hokey. 

The first few minutes of the movie, the start of the race where Lauda crashed, were terrific.  The racing – and especially the sound, was great.   Then the movie downshifted into flashback/backfill mode.  It got quieter, even the race scenes.  I finally asked my wife if something had happened to the sound.  And that’s the way it was until the end of the movie, during the final racing scenes for the championship, which were as exciting and well-done as the opening minutes.

The two best racing films of all-time, Le Mans and Grand Prix, remain alone atop the category.  The race scenes, especially in Le Mans, never seemed slow, not even in slow motion.  They remain unmatched. 

Fortunately, Rush is much better than Days of Thunder.  And it’s a hundred times better than Driven, Sylvester Stallone’s IndyCar fiasco that may forever go down in history as the worst racing movie ever.   Of perhaps the worst movie, period.

But if you’re standing in line at one of those mega-theater movie complexes this weekend with only enough entertainment dollars in your wallet to see one movie this month, go see Gravity.  You won’t be disappointed.   

1 comment:

  1. Still can't compare to Stroker Ace :)