It's been a long time since the Mass Effect adaptation from Legendary was brought up in conversation, and a recent report may indicate why. It seems the original script treatment penned by Mark Protosevich is being tossed aside, and relatively unproven scribe Morgan Davis Foehl is being brought in as the new writer.
He may seem an unlikely choice to successfully bring the videogame trilogy to the big screen, but his previous credits are a potential sign to fans that the film is moving in the right direction.
As Variety reports, Legendary is now bringing in Morgan Davis Foehl, an assistant editor-turned-writer who has yet to see one of his scripts make it to the screen. Foehl has experience as an assistant editor on FX's Rescue Me and the Adam Sandler comedies I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Click. Foehl isn't completely new to the writing game, having written a script for Alien Sleeper Cell from District 9 producer Bill Block.
While Foehl's writing credits are slim, the reception to his work has been promising. Since Alien Sleeper Cell is being developed largely independently, it's Foehl's script (based on a pitch by Felipe Linz) that's being used to sell the film to studios. Little is known about the project, besides the fact that it blends alien invasions with the tension of Matt Damon's Bourne series. Foehl has also penned the script Whatever Gets You Through The Night, a thriller built around the son of a mob lawyer that earned a spot on 2009's Black List of unproduced screenplays.
Add in his one-shot from Image Comics, City of Refuge, and current job adapting Top Cow's comic Crosshair (following a suburban father who's been programmed by the CIA to assassinate the President) and Morgan Davis Foehl seems to have a handle on the interstellar action and thrilling espionage that a Mass Effect movie would likely require. Fans of the game will be happy to hear that it was Foehl's knowledge of the Mass Effect series along with his previous credits that earned him the job from Legendary, but we wouldn't expect this to mark a sudden increase in updates or details on the film's status.
The creative minds behind the science fiction trilogy always maintained that a Mass Effect film wouldn't be fast-tracked solely for profitability's sake, even if that meant stalling production until the right talent and script was in place. Even Legendary Pictures claimed to be interested in bringing the property to the big screen for its emphasis on strong characters and compelling story more than brand recognition.
Exactly what the story would focus on has proven to be a contentious issue, with scriptwriter Mark Protosevich (Jurassic Park IV, I am Legend ) and the studio seeming to be in disagreement over the plot. Protosevich claimed the script would honor the plot of the games and not feature a completely new story. What Foehl's hiring means for the fate of Protosevich's treatment is unclear, but it will be a pleasant change for fans to hear some positivity around the Mass Effect name.
The finale to Commander Shepard's inter-galactic war against a race of machines, Mass Effect 3, released in March to conflicted reception. While hailed as one of the most polished and refined games of the year by critics, it was the writers' perceived fumbling of the story's conclusion that sparked online petitions and cupcake-drives (easily the most delicious form of protest we can think of). The developers even modified and expanded the ending in response to the criticism, so we can understand why Legendary is taking their time - Mass Effect fans are nothing if not devoted.
Morgan Davis Foehl's involvement could mean a completely new approach to the adaptation, but we won't know for sure until either he or Legendary make an announcement. We'll keep you updated when they do.
What do you think of Legendary's decision to go with a less proven writer over Protosevich's larger resume of films still in production? Think the Mass Effect movie should involve as much spy thriller as alien action? Sound off in the comments.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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