Le Mans Review


Le Mans is probably the closest I’ve seen to a film not really having much of a story since Cats. Fortunately unlike that film this one was still fun mainly because in general you can’t go wrong with racing. The film does have some issues with all the characters looking the same and that feeling like nothing is happening, but as long as you enjoy watching the cars go at it you should be fine.

The film starts with Michael getting ready for the big Le Mans race. It’s effectively a huge cross country race that spans an incredible amount of distance. It’s so long that the drivers even substitute out with others as the car goes on. I don’t know the specific rules here and the film isn’t about to tell them to you but effectively it seems like anyone can substitute for you as long as they have permission from the coach. Naturally it shouldn’t come to that since they already have the different guys lined up. Michael wants to win this but can he pull it off?

Meanwhile he has to deal with some drama involving the past. See, Lisa’s husband was in the last Le Mans and he ended up dying. It seems like she partially thinks Michael is responsible but more than anything she just doesn’t like racing anymore. We are given a flashback involving the crash briefly but when seeing it, it’s fair to say that it’s not really Michael’s fault. In fact, throughout the film we have quite a few crashes and it’s always tough because while you may spin out of control to dodge the first car, is it the first car’s fault?

It’s all relative when you’re out on the track. Nobody wants to crash after all and I can tell you up front that there isn’t some kind of big antagonist trying to take everyone out for the count. These are all professionals that are just trying to take the win but this isn’t exactly an easy track. Even the simplest of turns can become challenging when you’re going at such a high speed. You can’t slow down or you’ll fall behind as well.

Now, you could say that Lisa’s plot is the main story here. Part of the film is helping her see that maybe racing isn’t so bad. The plot could have been done a little better though as the scenes are spread out across the whole movie so there isn’t much to them. Part of her despises the races but she can’t help but keep showing up anyway. They just draw her in even as she tries to resist. All of the drivers seem to like her as well but you know that Michael’s the only one who may have a shot and even then you’re hoping that she friend zones them all considering that her husband didn’t die all that long ago. It was the last grand prix which I assume was a year ago unless this competition is held every 4 years or something like that.

It’s just not a super engaging plot but at least it does give us a chance for some dialogue and a change of pace. The rest of the film is really just the grand prix with a lot of different camera angles to keep things fresh. I always thought one of the most stressful moments in these things has to be when you have to go into the pit stop and let the crew maintain the car. Even if everyone has to do it at some point, it can be rough seeing the other cars getting out ahead of you.

There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack because I wouldn’t say there’s much of one here. The effects look good though, the movie shows how fragile the cars are. After all they’re built for speed so one wrong bump and that’s really it for the machine. It’s totaled before you can even give it a glance.

So Le Mans is a rather unique film I would say. Sure, it doesn’t have an interesting story compared to Speed Racer, Fast and the Furious, or even Need for Speed, but at the same time it’s a fairly safe film. Since pretty much the whole film is just a race, there isn’t any time to fall into any cinematic pot holes. The only negative that the film could even risk would be if it got downright boring. After all if you’re not really into cars or just moderately into them then you may get bored of seeing them turn the corner over and over again. That’s the only risk it takes, but since I enjoy a good race I wouldn’t say that’s the case here. I wouldn’t call the film boring, I would say it’s a little dragged out and could have benefited from a shorter run time but I was engaged enough to want to see it to the end.

Ironically as it’s built around being a real race that means it isn’t nearly as exciting to watch as virtually any other racing film since those (despite having slower, more traditional cars) feel like they have a lot more energy and substance. I think if I saw this in theaters I would be a lot more disappointed but watching it now, it just sort of flows by. I don’t imagine it’ll leave an impression after a while but it’s a consistent film and I’d say that’s enough to keep it at a positive level.

Overall, Le Mans is a film that makes no real mistakes but you do wish it could have added more of a plot. Sure, you have some rivals in the race, a small subplot with a guy hoping to win one last race before he retires, etc. At the same time you still don’t feel like there’s much of a story here which is in itself a bit of an experimental technique I suppose. I wouldn’t want this to become the standard but it’s a decently good film that does deliver on showing you the cars. Pick whichever car you want and root for it to go all the way!

Overall 6/10

Midnight Club: Los Angeles Review


Midnight Club is a pretty big racing series in its own right. It has long been overshadowed by the Need For Speed games but it has still lasted a while. In effect it’s like a Grand Theft Auto mixed with Need for Speed game or at least that’s the kind of vibe you get from it. The open world may be even bigger than what NFS usually brings. It’s a pretty great game with a ton of content at your disposal so you really can’t go wrong here.

The basic story is that you’re a new racer who is trying to gain reputation and move up the ranks. You know that you’re the best racer on the block but in order to challenge the best racers you will have to go up the ranks slowly but surely. You make some friends along the way like Karl and Annie as well as some rivals and enemies like Hugo or the 4 Champions. You’ll have to defeat them all, friend or foe in order to claim the title.

One thing I always appreciate in a racing game is having an actual story. You can’t take these for granted because a lot of games in the genre don’t have one. It’s not like this story is particularly unique or ambitious but it’s a story nonetheless. There’s a lot of fun banter between the lead and everyone else which ends up being the best part to me. They never stop with the burns, especially the lead and Karl. There are a lot of great lines like “Face me if you want a real challenge” “I’d love a real challenge but I’ll settle for racing you Karl” and a lot of lines like that. The burns and insults just keep on coming.

I played in over 200 races during the course of the game and I would still have needed to play a bunch more in order to unlock the final events. You’d think that taking down the city champions was the final battle but after that there is a champion for each kind of vehicle which is the part I didn’t finish. To unlock them you would need to play a lot of races in each car type and that was definitely not going to be done
anytime soon. I put in over 20 hours on this game s you definitely don’t need to worry about content here. There’s enough to tide you over and then some. With replay value on the other races and getting more cars I’d estimate this title to be around 30 hours.

The gameplay here is pretty direct, you drive through the stages and try to reach the goal first. Simple as that, that’s what you need to do in order to score a win here. There are other racing types in the game as well like time trials and trying to ram people off the road. The delivery events were likely the trickiest if you ask me because usually you would at least need to know where one or two of the shortcuts were in order to progress further.

As for my car of choice, it wasn’t even a car. As soon as I had enough money to buy a motorcycle I grabbed one and never looked back. The stats are off the charts and the only drawback is that an enemy attack can instantly knock you off your bike and your durability is very low so there is a good chance that you will get “damaged out” during the race and lose by default. Essentially you’ve got ultimate speed at the cost of your defense and that’s a fine trade off for me. I figure durability won’t be a concern as long as I stay ahead of the other racers and that’s exactly how things played out. It was really hard to go back to a car after that for the events where one was mandatory.

One issue I have with the game though is the fact that there is no fast travel. The main world is quite large so at times you would be driving for whole minutes to get to the next event. I’d much rather just be able to jump into the next event. I suppose the reason this game was designed that way was to prevent such things from happening. Admittedly if fast travel was an option I would have skipped most of the hub world experience and jumped straight into the duels.

The graphics here definitely look really good as expected. The game had aged quite well from the PS3. It’s naturally under some of the more high budget experiences like Need for Speed but I’d say it did good with what it had. The soundtrack is not very good though. I spent the majority of my play through constantly switching through songs to find the few gold ones. I would definitely have liked the ability to remove songs from the lineup so it would only cycle through a few that I would give a thumbs up.

Overall, Midnight Club is a great racing game. There is just so much to do here between all of the cars to collect and events to complete. 200 races is quite a lot so there’s no way to beat them all too quickly. In fact I even managed to make it to the maximum driver level which was a lot of fun. That’s not something that I can say happens every time. It was a pretty rare event and one I won’t soon forget. If you like racing games then I highly recommend this one. See how it stacks up for you compared to the famous Need for Speed franchise.

Overall 8/10

Cars Review


It’s time to look at one of the more well known Pixar films. This film got a bunch of comics, games, several movies, spinoffs, etc. It just got really big and that’s definitely cool for the series since this film is pretty good. It’s a fun adventure with some nice racing scenes and is essentially Barakamon’s plot, but with cars. I can’t say that I’ve really seen a whole lot of car racing films, but I’d definitely put this one very high on the list. I can also admit that I did not miss the humans.

The film starts with Lightning McQueen in the biggest race of his life. He is a rookie, but has ascended through the ranks thanks to his legendary speed. While he doesn’t win the big Grand Prix, he makes it into a 3 way tie for first place. A tiebreaker race is announced, but on the way there Lightning gets lost and lands in an old, abandoned town. Only a few cars live here now, but their businesses are dying thanks to corporate interference. A new highway has been built now and so nobody actually uses this one anymore. I feel bad for them, but if you can save 10 minutes then there really isn’t much of a reason to stop there. Will Lightning learn a few lessons about humility and not always taking the fast track through life or will he escape this town at the first opportunity?

Lightning is essentially like Tony Stark. He starts out the film as a very arrogant guy who only cares about himself. He wants to win at all costs and believes that he can do everything by himself. During the course of the film he learns that teamwork is important and that helping people out can be fun. Naturally I liked his more arrogant self quite a bit, but he’s a well developed character and nice Lightning is still a good character as well. He’s still as fast as ever and now he has a real team behind him. I do think this will make it tough on the sequels since I really wouldn’t want his character to regress. We really shouldn’t have too much drama with him because now he’s learned to be a team player and gets along with everybody. Well, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this in the future installments.

The town is also fairly nice. I do like the fact that they have a court room with lawyers and everything. The court room scene is one of the better parts of the film as Lightning almost gets out instantly but then his plans get ruined by the main heroine of the film. Sally. She convinces the judge that Lightning should pay for the damage that he did to the roads and so the main character is stuck fr a while. He does have the good idea of trying to get out by quickly dashing off, but the town is too clever for this and makes sure not to give him enough gasoline so he runs out in the middle of the desert. These cars turned out to be a lot more clever than Lightning gave them credit for.

There are quite a few characters in the town, but lets talk about the main ones. Sally naturally gets a pretty big role. She has the biggest impact on turning Lightning into a nicer person and gives him a chance. She can race fairly well and apparently is good in the courtroom so she’s a very balanced character. Doc is the judge and an ex racer. He’s a decent character although I do have to question his backstory. He claims that after he was injured people didn’t care about him and it was hard to get back on the track, but couldn’t he simply win his way to the top again? If nobody thought he could do it then it was on him to prove them wrong. As a result I really couldn’t sympathize with this guy. Still, he wasn’t a bad character.

Mater is Lightning’s comic relief sidekick. He is falling apart, but he means well and is a nice guy. There’s nothing really negative about him, but he doesn’t add anything to any of the scenes. He’s really just here to be here. I preferred the truck that drove Lightning around. He seemed like a nice guy and so I’m glad that Lightning stuck with that crew. They may not be rich or anything, but they do seem to care about Lightning and are a group of fun cars to be around. They should get along with the townsfolk based on their personalities.

Of course, Lightning had the two meaner rivals to deal with as well. The King seemed like an all right guy though and his skills are pretty good. He stays at the front of the pack for about 90% of the race and always plays fair. Unfortunately, I guess he expects everyone else to play fair as well since he seemed unprepared for the others to crash into him. He’ll have to improve his skills, but since he’s retired I guess he won’t really need too. The other rival is essentially like Lightning, but a little more extreme and he never got converted. He’s definitely the most serious threat to Lightning and gets a lot of burns in. The film definitely did a good job with the two rivals. It makes the races a lot more fun for sure. Lightning’s visions were also correct since his rival really made the most of the head start while Lightning was busy at the village.

The animation looks pretty solid. I’d say that the movie probably put most of the budget into the first race as it definitely is the most impressive part of the film. The character designs are on point throughout and the final race also looks pretty good. I would have liked more than two races, but I suppose it would have been tough to squeeze more in. As it stands, the two races definitely gave us a good bit of action. Pixar is definitely known for their quality and this film is no exception.

I would have liked to have seen more of Harv though. He never actually appears, but still ends up being one of the most influential characters in the film. The guy knows what he is doing so it’s easy to see why he became an agent. Lightning could learn a thing or two from him since I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. Everything about the ending was good except for one part. In a moment of kindness, Lightning decides not to cross the goal line and instead pushes a crushed car to the end himself. That’s nice of him, but Lightning was right outside the goal line so he should have quickly touched it and then saved the guy. It wouldn’t have even taken a full second and so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Why let the rival win when you don’t need too? It’s supposed to be a powerful scene of Lightning finally realizing that winning isn’t everything, but when you’re that close you’ve really just got to grab the win.

Overall, Cars is a very fun film. It’s a very peaceful movie despite the quick car scenes. Fortunately the dialogue is strong and the cast of characters are interesting. It’s a film that is carried along by the quality of writing. This transforms what could have been a mildly interesting film about a bunch of cars talking into a really enjoyable experience. When you think about it, not much happens for the majority of the film since it’s just Lightning hanging around the town, but the film never ends up dragging on. It just keeps on going slow and steady to the finish line. That’s when you know that a film is good. A good film needs action scenes to keep it on top. A great one can be good with dialogue alone. It’s not as if I’m calling this a great movie, but it’s a very good one. It has a lot of replay value and gets a good mix of action and comedy. The humor here isn’t too forced or out of place. It’s given in nice, small doses that work well. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Hopefully the sequels can be as good.

Overall 7/10