After hearing the first whispers about the Mass Effect movie in production, I got overly excited and said and thought things I shouldn’t have. Things like, “Oh this could be the Star Wars for a new generation, if done right.” Things like, “This could be the best video game movie ever made.” One or two (or more) of my game and film loving friends thought that it was more likely to suck – to be the next Hitman or Prince of Persia. I don’t think anyone threw any low-blows, e.g. Super Mario Bros…. (I think Bob Hoskins has part of his soul taken from him every time that movie’s mentioned. Sorry, Bob).
But rumors and news only fueled my optimism. Former Marvel movie big gun Avi Arad (X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man) got his hands on the rights to a Mass Effect movie, and Bioware talked about how interested Hollywood was in Mass Effect, and I continued to anticipate, speculate, and make inappropriate comparisons.
Then rumors spun about Mass Effect making it’s debut on the living room screen instead of the big screen. FUNimation, the same company slated to port fellow BioWare gem Dragon Age into an anime, signed a deal to take on a Mass Effect anime project. And, my dreams of the next Star Wars died hard with that news.
Now, I’m hearing that there are TWO Mass Effect movies in production? There is, in fact an anime in the works as I type and you read. But apparently, with the announcement that Legendary Pictures (the badasses behind the Batman reboot) plan to attend Comic-Con and show off a panel that features a Mass Effect movie, my lofty hopes can be restoked. Maybe we’ll see a trailer at Comic-Con to clear up some of the questions surrounding this film destined to bomb or be epic.
The big ones-
- Storyline – I had one game-save who was a bad, bad man. So obnoxiously despicable that it would probably be tough for audiences to root for him over the course of a two hour Hollywood film. Will our ME movie Shepard be that, or a righteous paragon? I’m guessing the latter, or some complicated animal in between. Will the script (written by Thor/I Am Legend screenwriter Mark Protosevich) follow the events of the first game at all, or take more of the Resident Evil movie approach — these gave us some overlap in the basic ideas, but also introduced new events to the canon — to its dealings with in-game storyline?
- Cast – But before I even talk casting, what about character gender? ME gave us the option of selecting a gender at the outset, and if this movie plans to use Commander Shepard as a main protag, then they’ll have to pick one, too. Could be interesting. Will Miranda Lawson be played by Yvonne Strahovski? Joker by Seth Green? Illusive Man by Martin Sheen? And wouldn’t it be weird if anyone else played these characters?
- Authenticity – With the Batman team spearheading this one, it’s hard for me to believe that the fault will be here. But the thing that kept the new Star Wars movies from succeeding for a lot of people is that they didn’t feel true to the Star Wars universe we knew and loved. The right details — cinematography, dialogue, direction, and responsible use of CGI — will be necessary to make this conversion work for me.
So, why can’t it be good? With so many games becoming more cinematic, why can’t more movies borrow some of the cloth that games are made of? From my point of view, the Mass Effect source material and universe is rich enough to become the basis for some great if not classic movies, but I also get why some of my friends and other gamers don’t have the same faith.
So, how good is this gonna be? What are your hopes regarding Shepard’s casting and gender? And if you can think of any other factors that could lead to this movie either being crap or awesome, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section.
For more speculation and suggestions related to casting, hit up the IMDB message board.