This could be good news or bad news. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that BioWare’s Xbox and PC sci-fi series has been optioned by Legendary Pictures, co-producers of the movies 300, Watchmen, and The Dark Knight. Avi and Ari Arad, who are also developing the PS3 game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, will produce the flick.
Warner Bros. has agreed to co-finance the movie along with Legendary, as well as to distribute it worldwide. Screenwriter Mark Protosevich who wrote I Am Legend and contributed to the upcoming Thor has been hired to adapt the game.
The story is a sprawling epic set in 2183 that focuses on a soldier, Commander Shepard, who becomes the first human to be named as a spectre – part spy, part lawman. Shepard forms a team of eccentric characters to fight the Geth- A.I. machines controlled by Godlike beings called the Reapers, who want to wipe out all organic life. The series was envisioned as a trilogy.
If it works, it could be fantastic, but it has an uphill battle. Video game movie adaptations have suffered from a crippling lack of- well, good. In fact most of them are terrible at worst, and forgettable at best. The list of video game adaptations reads like a list of “whatever happened to” articles. Remember Kristanna Loken from Terminator: Rise of the Machines? Check out BloodRayne. The movies are usually forgotten if the actors and filmmakers are lucky, as with Doom, or they can be an indication of a once promising career now firmly in a downward spiral as the movies are relegated to the straight-to-DVD market, as with Tara Reid and Christian Slater’s Alone in the Dark. Even the best movies of the bunch tend to be tolerated rather than loved, as with Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider movies and the Resident Evil series.
Once in a while though you will hear about a project that sounds too good to be true. The talent attached is solid, the passion is there, and the project already has a loyal cult following. But then it just stops. Halo was set to go with Neil Blomkamp directing and Peter Jackson directing, but then the budget terrified Hollywood execs away in droves. Bioshock was in pre-production, and Gore Verbanski passed on directing the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie to helm it when the project stalled, again because of budget concerns. So can a movie set entirely in space with alien characters and CGI intensive battles see the light of day?
If Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia can establish the video game genre as a good source for potential action packed blockbuster movies, then maybe Mass Effect will have a chance. Maybe.
But for now, the news is good for fans of the game, and the real debate should begin anytime now: Who should play the main character Commander Shepard? Sound off below.
(Update: This article has been updated to correct the character’s role as a “Spectre”, not a “Specter”. Thansk to the poster “Eternal Density” for pointing it out!)