I don't go to the cinema often. It's an expensive experience that I don't really get on with. However, every now and then something pretty awesome comes out that simply must be seen on the big screen. Ron Howard's "Rush" is one such film.
The movie tells the story of the famous rivalry between the late, great, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Both men were F1 drivers at the top of their game, both wanted to take the big prize and show the other up.
The film begins at the embryonic stages of their careers and ends at the culmination of the 1976 F1 World Championship. A large portion of the story focusses on Lauda's horrific, disfiguring crash at the 1976 German GP.
The crash is well documented. Lauda's Ferrari crashed during the '76 German Grand Prix having suffered a suspected suspension failure. He spun off the track, the car burst in to flames and struck another racer in the process. Lauda was trapped in the burning car, unable to escape from this safety harnesses. The fire that enveloped him caused some major scarring to his face and head -- taking most of his right ear and burning off his eyelids -- as well as damaging his lungs and blood thanks to inhaling some pretty toxic fumes. The film doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the aftermath.
Hunt is played by Chris Hemsworth, better known as Thor. He manages to pull of "well-heeled playboy" quite well, though his British accent is a little suspect at times. He did manage to nail Hunt's cheeky grin and ability to have a smoke on the go at moment's notice.
Lauda's puppeteer for the show is Daniel Brühl. Brühl's turn is utterly, utterly incredible -- he pretty much steals the movie. He's blunt, he's calculating, and he's endearing with it.
The two play off one another wonderfully throughout the film, but it's on the race track where you see them come alive. You feel the danger that hung over racers at the time like Damocles' Sword and just how talented those drivers truly are. It's also where the film falls a touch.
Yes, this is a film. No, it's not the real world. But some of the CGI is very obvious -- it detracts from the incredible racing and pulls you back to reality. It's the only real criticism I have with it, but it's too big to let slide.
Ron Howard is known for re-creating incredible stories that not only reflect what happened at the time, but also touch the audience on a personal level. In "Rush, while most of the audience won't appreciate what it feels like to be trapped in burning car, you can empathise with the frustration these guys must have gone through during their fight to best the other.
"Rush" is stylistically excellent, stunningly shot, and wonderfully executed. It tells a well-known story and makes it accessible to those who wouldn't usually care about such trivial matters as racing. Shame about the CGI, mind.