Roland Emmerich has been attached to direct an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation for some time now. If that's somehow news to you, I'm sure you're scratching your head and wondering "The man behind 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow adapting Foundation? That's like a movie version of I, Robot starring Will Smith! Oh. Wait." Then you sigh and walk away slowly.
Empire spoke with the Maestro of Destroying the World on Film about his plans for the film. What he has to say is discouraging and encouraging in equal measure. On one hand, he directly calls out I, Robot as the wrong way to tackle this property:
"I, Robot as a book was so much more than it was as a film and I think, because of that, fans were very disappointed. I don't want to repeat that disappointment; I want to give people exactly what the Foundation trilogy is. You have to tell a story that represents the books but also works as a film. That's the challenge."
Does this mean that Emmerich has no intention of turning Asimov's dense story of politics and civilization into an action series? Seems kind of odd for a man who ups the ante of destruction and mayhem with every film he makes. The Foundation series does deal directly with an intergalactic civil war and the falling of a massive empire, but it's all in the background, focusing on a specially created colony that was constructed to survive the chaos through an experimental process called psychohistory, which will predict the challenges they'd encounter. The seven book series follows the colony for a thousand years or so. There's definitely scope here, but it's not the kind of scope Emmerich is known for.
How does Emmerich plan to squeeze a thousand years worth of story into one movie? Apparently, he hasn't quite figured it out yet, since the script is currently 240 pages long. He's apparently asked screenwriter Robert Rodat to edit it down to under 200. Emmerich on Rodat:
"Bob's perfect for this thing - he also knows as a writer he has to find the hero and a bad guy in the piece. We had to come up with characters that go through [the series], which is very hard."
Aha. There's the rub. Asimov was never interested in heroes and villains. He was interested in society and science and politics and culture. Part of the fun of the series is jumping ahead in time and meeting new characters and seeing how the world has changed. I don't know how they plan to stay loyal to the source material and Hollywoodize the story. It's pretty much impossible.
Of course, this is a post-Avatar world, so Emmerich wants it to be in 3D. And entirely motion captured. Yeah, I don't think Emmerich has any real interest in doing this right. I hate to play the fanboy, but can you imagine someone like Darren Arronofsky on this? Or, in my wildest dreams, Terrence Malick?
Isn't it pretty to think so?