Remember how movies based on video games, as a rule, totally suck? Okay, good.
Moving right along, I’ve just learned via The Hollywood Reporter that Legendary Pictures has purchased the movie rights to Mass Effect, BioWare’s phenomenal 2007 space opera that spawned an even better sequel this past January. Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) is reportedly in talks to write the movie, which is being produced by Avi and Ari Arad alongside Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni.
Now, I always get fanboy douche chills whenever one of my favorite video game franchises makes that doomed voyage to the silver screen, but a Mass Effect movie? Aside from the fact that both Mass Effect games are pretty lengthy (each took me about 20 hours to complete, give or take), one of the primary appeals of this series is that ever-important element of choice. You choose Commander Shepard’s gender, appearance, past, abilities and moral choices. By stripping Mass Effect of that level of immersion, you’re left with a universe—as intricate and cinematic as it is—that’s far too similar to Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and other existing science fiction properties to stand on its own as a piece of non-interactive entertainment. To the general public, a Mass Effect movie will be wrongfully received as a Wars/Trek knockoff. This franchise is better than that.
THR notes that BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will serve as executive producers on the adaptation, which should provie Mass Effect fans a glimmer of hope. After all, one of the main problems with these game-to-movie translations (from Super Mario Bros. right on down) is that the creative forces that made the source material so compelling are seldom involved. Perhaps the BioWare guys will keep this project focused and give some pointers as to how a story that depended so much on audience (player) involvement can work as a feature length film. Since the project is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to say whether or not that will be the case.
But until we hear otherwise, the game-to-movie curse lives on.