Fans of the Mass Effect franchise probably shouldn't hold their breath waiting for the much talked-about movie based on the first game in the series, given producer Avi Arad's recent comments that it could still be a few more years away. There have been some confusing mixed messages regarding the adaptation, including Legendary Pictures radically changing their answers to some pretty fundamental question about it within the space of a couple of weeks.
Development was further complicated last year when the script by screenwriter Mark Protosevich (Thor) was thrown out and newcomer Morgan Davis Foehl stepped in to take over writing duties. As far as we're aware the movie is still in the script-refining stages and doesn't yet have a director or any cast members attached - and Protosevich has opened up on the subject of why Mass Effect was such a difficult movie to write, to the point that the attempt may have put him off writing video game adaptations for life.
Speaking to Badass Digest, Protosevich explained that he had admitted defeat when Legendary decided to turn his drafts away and bring Foehl onboard instead:
"I wrote a couple of drafts and then they brought on a new writer... When I was on it I was definitely adapting the first game. That story, it was very much the first game. And that was the approach."
"It was the first game adaptation I did and it will probably be the only one. They’re hard. I will freely admit it was hard. Because - especially with 'Mass Effect' - there’s just so much material. Narratively, with the game, you’re talking about nine, ten hours of narrative you’re jamming into two hours.
"I hope they pull it off. I’d love to see a 'Mass Effect' movie. I think I did some good work, but even I’ll admit I didn’t pull it off."
Protosevich wasn't kidding when he talked about the length of Mass Effect. While some games only have a paper-thin plot and minimal dialogue to justify lengthy bouts of shooting, the Mass Effect series is largely built on verbal interactions with people from all over the galaxy. There is a huge amount of depth to the first game, which was tasked with establishing all the different alien races and their respective cultures, as well as galactic politics and humanity's position within them as a species that made first contact only relatively recently.
That's not to say that it would be impossible to turn the first Mass Effect game into a two hour movie - incredibly long novels have been boiled down to the same length in the past - but it's understandable that Protosevich might struggle to fit the game's story into such a short space of time whilst also managing to retain the depth of the game.
Ubisoft's recently-established film studio, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, also has plans laid out to extend quite a few of the game publisher's franchises into the movie world. UMP's plan of action involves two major factors: retaining as much creative control as possible over the properties, and making sure that each movie has its own story instead of just adapting one that was already told in a video game.
Some fans might favor this approach for a Mass Effect movie as well, not only because it would mean a new story in the Mass Effect universe instead of a recycled one, but also because Mass Effect is already a pretty cinematic game. There are plenty of interesting events referenced in the series that could make for a solid movie, such as the First Contact War between the humans and the turians, the uprising of the geth against the quarians, or Commander Shepard's various origin stories.
Tell us in the comments if you think making a decent Mass Effect movie is possible, whether or not it should just be an adaptation of the first game's story, and whether Foehl, who was handed script duties after Protosevich and reportedly got the job because his enthusiasm for the game series impressed the producers, has a better chance of making it happen.
We'll keep you updated on Mass Effect as development continues.
Source: Badass Digest
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