Review: V8 – Start Your Engines!

Writer/Director Joachim Masannek’s claim to fame to date is Die Wilden Kerle, or The Wild Soccer Bunch as it is known in English. Hitting German cinemas today, and likely expanding internationally through the end of the year and into 2014, is his latest film. V8 – Du Willst der Beste sein, or V8- Start Your Engines!. In a manner similar to the trajectory of the aforementioned series, V8 combines elements of myriad genres to put a unique spin on its tale.

At its core it’s a sports movie about four kids who are selected to challenge the reigning local go-kart champions, who are one win away from solidifying their place in a mystical castle. However, the myth of that locale, the secretive nature of these races and other things layer on a fantastical element to the story. Whereas Die Wilden Kerle seemed to leapfrog its predominant genre from film to film Masannek here it creating a melange from the get-go and what makes it even more impressive is the naturalistic way in which it occurs. It functions even with these disparate elements, such as being a film designed for kids, but also having its coming-of-age aspects, not unlike The Crocodiles (Vorstadtkrokodile), allows it to work on a few levels.

Not forgetting that while the core group of character are four, the antagonists (The Barracudas) are at least that excluding their posse; it’s highly impressive that the film does not get bogged down, the leads don’t get sketched like the multi-character tales in the prior franchise, but knowing them is key to driving the story forward. The Barracudas use what they know about the interpersonal dynamics of the V8 team to precision in trying to get an upper hand. So, yes, there are comedy elements (most which do translate- some remain obscured in the unique brand of dialogue Masannek’s films occasionally have); there’s manipulation that gets you on the side of the challenging team; there’s the struggle to individuate, to do what you like and do it well, all the clashing that budding friendships can have, as well as a subsumed love triangle which plays into all that – as well as a sibling rivalry. And, even with all that the film doesn’t feel messy at all because for the most part this disparate elements rise above the fray organically.

V8 - Start Your Engines! (2013, Universal/Rat Pack)

Yes, and then it’s a racing film as well, which it is predominantly, but focus needed to be given to what separates it. The racing are very well done and one of the motifs the film frequently employs to great effect it many iterations of split-screens in its montage building and it’s one of the most effective consistent uses I’ve seen.

While Masannek demands a lot of himself as a writer and director juggling these emotional tones, genre tropes and plot elements that also puts a lot on the shoulders of the young ensemble who rise to the challenge on countless occasions. The leads being David (Georg Sulzer) and his sister Luca (Maya Lauterbach), David’s love-interest Kiki Lilou (Klara Merkel) and Robin (Samuel Jakob) his rival, the poor little rich boy whose father care more about his success than him. Sulzer easily communicates his frustrations with his his sister, with Robin, when they’re at odds; as well as more sincere emotions. David is an imperfect protagonist who does make mistakes but is ultimately affable enough. Lauterbach carries herself with a poise of an actress at least twice her age and pulls off many of the affectations of her character flawlessly. Merkel’s character has to be equal parts tough-as-nails and sensitive and is never off-putting, but always endearing; a very promising screen presence. Whereas Jakob has the most deceptively difficult challenge before him, playing the character with the stiff upper-lip who only occasionally cracks and does very well.

However, the exploits of the rival team are nothing to scoff at. Namely, Nick Romeo Reimann, who up until this point has been a heroic lead, plays a villain adept at mind-games brilliantly. Also, noteworthy is Tom Hoßbach who must quietly portray that deep down he’s the good-natured one of the lot.

V8 - Start Your Engines! (2013, Rat Pack/Universal)

V8 not only does more juggling of genre elements and themes in kid-centric sports film than say something like Real Steel, but it also is a more sophisticated implementation of Masannek’s style as well as a series starting off on the right foot. As opposed to say the Fast & Furious franchise, which it does tip its hat to. V8 finishes its tale in a very gratifying fashion. How the final outcome is achieved is excellent and there are some good turns in the road along the way. It’s especially worth noting that the race that all the drama lead up to is also very well-executed. The film makes no secret of its intent to set-up a sequel, but it also finishes appropriately. With this as a set-up building quite a fascinating and endearing mythology, I welcome that prospect with open arms and I’m quite sure there are audiences worldwide that would too.

9/10

2013 BAM Award Considerations – September

Last year I had one massive running list and it became very cumbersome to add to, and to read I’m sure. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

You’re Next
Beyond the Walls
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The Iceman
House of Bodies
Riddick
The Grandmaster
Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Branca’s Pitch
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
Insidious: Chapter 2
Aliyah
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
V/H/S 2
In the Name Of
Hammer of the Gods
Die Farbe
Breakout
Standing Up
Don Jon
Cody the Robosapien

Best Picture

Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines

Best Foreign Film

Beyond the Walls
The Gradmaster
Aliyah
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
In the Name Of
Die Farbe

Best Documentary

Last year this was an omitted category, due mostly to the fact that too few total candidates existed to make the slate feel legitimate. I will hope to be able to rectify that this year.

Branca’s Pitch
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
Die Farbe

Best Director

Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
Die Farbe

Best Actress

Sharni Vinson You’re Next
Lily Collins The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Ziyi Zhang The Grandmaster
Andrea Riseborough Shadow Dancer
Melonie Diaz Fruitvale Station
Clotilde Hesme Three Worlds
Olga Kurylenko To the Wonder
Marah Schneider Die Farbe
Scarlett Johansson Don Jon

Best Actor

Matila Malliarakis Beyond the Walls
Jamie Campbell Bower The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Michael Shannon The Iceman
Tony Leung Chiu Wai The Grandmaster
Clive Owen Shadow Dancer
Michael B. Jordan Fruitvale Station
Patrick Wilson Insidious: Chapter 2
Raphaël Personnaz Three Worlds
Pio Marmaï Aliyah
Andrzej Chyra In the Name Of
Ingo Heise Die Farbe
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Don Jon

Best Supporting Actress

Brid Brennan Shadow Dancer
Octavia Spencer Fruitvale Station
Lin Shaye Insidious: Chapter 2
Arta Dobroshi Three Worlds
Julianne Moore Don Jon
Glenne Headly Don Jon

Best Supporting Actor

Guillaume Gouix Beyond the Walls
Robert Sheehan The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Kevin Zegers The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Jonathan Rhys Meyers The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Chris Evans The Iceman
Ray Liotta The Iceman
Jordi Mollà Riddick
Steve Coulter Insidious: Chapter 2
Jean-Pierre Malo Three Worlds
Javier Bardem To the Wonder
Mateusz Kociukiewicz In the Name Of
Theo Barklam-Biggs Hammer of the Gods
Michael Kausch Die Farbe
Tony Danza Don Jon

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Maya Lauterbach V8- Start Your Engines
Annelise Basso Standing Up

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Georg Sulzer V8- Start Your Engines
Chandler Canterbury Standing Up
Bobby Coleman Cody the Robosapien

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Maira Laird Shadow Dancer
Ariana Neal Fruitvale Station
Klara Merkel V8- Start Your Engines
Tatiana Chiline To the Wonder
Holliston Coleman Cody the Robosapien

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Ty Simpkins Insidious: Chapter 2
Garrett Ryan Insidious: Chapter 2
Tyler Griffin Insidious: Chapter 2
Andrew Astor Insidious: Chapter 2
Samuel Jakob V8- Start Your Engines
Tom Hossbach V8- Start Your Engines
Nick Romeo Reimann V8 – Start Your Engines
Rylan Logan V/H/S 2
Phillipp Jacobs Die Farbe
Leon Schröder Die Farbe
Jonas Zumdohme Die Farbe
Christian Martyn Breakout

Best Cast

You’re Next
Beyond the Walls
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The Iceman
Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
In the Name Of
Die Farbe
Don Jon

Best Youth Ensemble

Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
V/H/S 2
Die Farbe
Standing Up
Cody the Robosapien

Best Original Screenplay

You’re Next
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
V/H/S 2
Don Jon

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Shadow Dancer
Die Farbe

Best Score

You’re Next
Beyond the Walls
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Riddick
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
Die Farbe

Best Editing

Shadow Dancer
Fruitvale Station
Insidious: Chapter 2
Three Worlds
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
Die Farbe
Don Jon

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Shadow Dancer
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
V/H/S 2
Hammer of the Gods
Die Farbe

Best Cinematography

You’re Next
The Grandmaster
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
To the Wonder
V/H/S 2
Die Farbe

Best Art Direction

You’re Next
Beyond the Walls
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Riddick
The Grandmaster
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
V/H/S 2
Hammer of the Gods
Die Farbe

Best Costume Design

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The Iceman
Riddick
The Grandmaster
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
Hammer of the Gods
Die Farbe

Best Makeup

Riddick
The Grandmaster
Insidious: Chapter 2
V8- Start Your Engines
V/H/S 2

Best Visual Effects

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Riddick
Insidious: Chapter 2
V/H/S 2
Die Farbe
Cody the Robosapien

Best (Original) Song

Beyond the Walls
V8- Start Your Engines