While major video game franchises are slowly being snatched up by Hollywood studios, there’s one adaptation that is already in production. Need For Speed may have a somewhat checkered history in recent years, but the first official trailer for the live-action film shows that – at first glance – EA and Dreamworks Pictures aren’t cutting any corners.
Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul’s quest for vengeance behind the wheel of a car may be standard fare for a racing game storyline, but with a wealth of actual racing, supercars, police chases and explosions, fans of the franchise might be pleasantly surprised.
It’s tempting to simply write off the film’s connection to the video game franchise with which it shares its name, since a story-focused film can only have so much in common with an arcade racer. We’ve already explained why there’s reason to be optimistic for the movie, but for Electronic Arts, Need For Speed is the first step in what they see as a better approach to adapting games onto the big screen.
Patrick O’Brien, the VP of EA Entertainment – a new branch of the company tasked with overseeing adaptations – was quite candid when discussing the company’s movie plans at Comic-Con 2013: the exec admitted EA now recognizes that preserving a franchise’s integrity means developing a film themselves, before handing it off to a studio. EA and Dreamworks decided that the right men to craft the film’s screenplay were George Nolfi and brothers John and George Gatins, two self-confessed gearheads, with the former having written the scripts for Real Steel (2011) and Flight (2012) among others.
With the screenplay handled by two motoring enthusiasts, director Scott Waugh has promised to bring the same realism and authenticity to the film’s driving as he did when following actual Navy SEALS for his directorial debut Act of Valor (2012). Having proven himself as a capable director from a career in stunts, Waugh explained to our brethren at Screen Rant that on a personal level, getting the opportunity to helm a Need For Speed film was a dream come true:
“I couldn’t find a better brand than Need for Speed. I mean it’s a huge franchise and to direct under the leadership of Steven Spielberg is just- to me- probably one of the coolest things that could ever happen in my career. I’m just really excited to bring my filmmaking style and authenticity to that kind of genre.”
That realism seems to be on full display in the first trailer, with more car flips than you can count, and featuring more actual racing than any of the most recent Fast & Furious films. The film has been pitched from the start as an homage to the classic car culture films of the 1970s, and the first footage backs up the claim: a revenge story filled with cars and police is about as retro as you can get.
The talent on screen is nothing to scoff at either, with Aaron Paul’s antihero ‘Tobey Marshall’ surrounded by the likes of Michael Keaton, Imogen Poots (Fright Night), and Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger) – not to mention the stunt drivers called upon to bring added realism to the on-screen racers.
In the end, all Need For Speed needs to be is ‘good’ to break the trend. So far the film looks to have the talent and approach to at least find success among racing fans tired of CGI cars and inept drivers. If EA can bring one of their properties to the big screen without simply adapting a story, but capturing the fan base, it could mean very good things for the other games in their future.
What do you think of the first trailer? Do you think EA’s approach is one more studios should take, or are you holding off judgement until you’ve seen more? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Need for Speed opens in U.S. theaters on March 14th, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.