The latest example of a stinky video game movie was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, although there were plenty of things working against it from the start. Casting Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead, for one, was a misstep since it's hard to take him seriously as an action star, and it was an obvious play for the female audience who would otherwise not be interested in a video game movie. He's also been lumped in with the fracas over race in movies along with The Last Airbender. Also, it's not a very good game.
BioShock, on the other hand, is an excellent game. The decaying art deco underwater world was creepy and thrilling. The story of an Ayn Rand-ian utopia named Rapture that fell apart magnificently leaves room for discussion and contemplation. As Ken Levine, BioShock's lead designer, told Kotaku, "It's a cautionary tale about wholesale, unquestioning belief in something." The story of a person who wakes up unsure of his past or where he's landed and who must navigate a bizarre world of terrifying steampunk monsters and their ADAM-sucking Little Sisters is perfect for a horror film. (The lead, Jack, is told he survived a plane crash and landed in Rapture, and the person who is speaking to him will help him find his way.)
Sounds great, right? It seemed like it back in 2008 when Gore Verbinski signed on as director. Since then, he's signed off as director and the studio brought in 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to take the reins, although Verbinski is still a producer on the project.
As Peter Hall reported last week via IGN, BioShock is still happening -- no, really! -- it's just taking a while to work out the logistics. "We're working trying to make it. The problem with BioShock was: R-rated movie, underwater, horror. It's a really expensive R-rated movie," he explained. "So we're trying to figure out a way working with [director] Juan Carlos [Fresnadillo] to get the budget down and still keep so it's true to the core audience, you know? The thing is it has to be R, a hard R." Another hiccup is that Fresnadillo is directing a new movie with Clive Owen, Intruders. Verbinski also insisted that Persia's low BO had nothing to do with BioShock's status.
Really, all signs point to yet another cool idea left to gather dust. It's a shame because I think BioShock is one of the few games that could easily be adapted into an intelligent and scary horror movie -- except for the price, of course. It would be a big, expensive risk to take for Universal, and right now, no studio can afford that, even with a built-in fanbase.
Have you played BioShock? Do you think it would be a movie you'd like to see?