The lights are on
Need for Speed is the most recent of game-to-film adaptations, and we wanted to know what our opposite numbers in film critique have to say about it. The genre (if it can be called that) already has a bad reputation, and it looks like Need for Speed won’t be changing that any time soon.
Need for Speed is currently living in the basement on both Rotten Tomatoes (25 percent) and Metacritic (34/100). The film’s out on March 14, but you can find out right now if it’s worth your time.
Many of the comments are damning, but there are a few positive notes from critics. “While a bit too long (and with a few too many characters who aren’t quite as interesting as the filmmakers think), it has energy, looks wonderful and delivers plenty of action,” says Mark Adams from the UK’s The Daily Mirror.
The Associated Press also liked Need for Speed. “Despite its clichéd elements, this adrenaline-fueled stunt fest is an unequivocal thrill that deserves to be seen on the big screen,” says film writer Jessica Herndon.
The majority of their peers disagree, with a health dose of biting criticism. “Young men and fast cars are automatically stupid together, but even if you set your intelligence level at “off” — and you should — you’ll get a hangover from this cocktail of 200-proof stupid, clinking with moron ice cubes and with an idiot cherry on top,” says Kyle Smith of the New York Post.
Tim Grierson of Paste Magazine goes one step farther, calling the characters out for anti-social behavior. “The filmmakers position Tobey and his grease-monkey buddies (including Rami Malek and Scott Mescudi) as fun-loving, free-spirited daredevils, but in truth, they’re jerks, and their bratty disregard of polite society really is just a lot of misanthropic, macho posturing,” he writes.
The criticisms span the entire endeavor and include writing, character development, and an overuse of cliché racing film tropes. The one thing that is generally well regarded? The cars. If you’re in it for the automotive eye-candy, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Despite the critical panning, there is constructive criticism that emerged in one of the reviews we read. “But lest you think it's game over from the start, not all cross-pollination has been bad,” says Keith Staskiewicz of Entertainment Weekly. “Wreck-It Ralph and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World took videogame aesthetics and iconography and spun them into the DNA strands of their narratives. That's a much smarter way to go.”
Senior features editor Matt Helgeson recently opined that we don't need video game movies at all. Hollywood won't be deterred, though. Let’s just hope that the Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed, and The Last of Us movies fare better.