Gears of War movie now in production
- From: "Tom" <noway@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2009 19:04:13 -0400
SDCC 09: Gears of War Movie Churning
The Rock a no-go, but bad-ass female soldiers a near certainty.
by Hilary Goldstein
July 26, 2009 - Director Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard) and writer Chris Morgan (Wanted) appeared at Epic Games' Gears of War panel to discussing the upcoming feature film based on the popular videogame franchise. It was clear by the end of the hour-long panel that production on the Gears of War feature film was in the earliest stages. In fact, there's been no casting and there were no production stills or conceptual art to offer. Still, Wiseman and Morgan spoke about their philosophy regarding the movie and the director dispelled a recent Internet rumor regarding casting of the lead role.
Despite what some may want to suggest, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is not being considered for Gears of War. "A Doom connection would not be smart for us," Wiseman said bluntly. He spent a few minutes explaining his philosophy on finding a good action star and in the process slagged The Rock. Wiseman stated that the way to find the right person to play the lead role of Marcus Fenix is not to "throw a bunch of strongmen into the ring and see who comes out victorious. I'm looking for an actor for the role and then [I'll] put him into shape." He added, "I'm always thinking who could play the best Marcus. You want to get hooked into the character [first] and then all the amazing spectacle."
While Wiseman nixed the idea of The Rock in Gears of War, he did agree to one speculative bit of casting. When asked about who might play the part of Maria, the doomed wife of second-in-command Dominic Santiago, Wiseman had one actress at the top of his wishlist. "If I can convince [Kate Beckinsale]--and I think I have a shot-- I'd love to see that."
The plot of Gears of War won't strictly follow that of the games. Writer Chris Morgan told the crowd that "Emergence Day is making its way into the film. That will be big." For those unfamiliar with the Gears of War games, Emergence Day is when the enemy Locusts rose from underground, revealing themselves to the human occupants of the planet Sera. The Gears games take place long after Emergence Day and so it is something no one has seen fully realized.
Wiseman promised to respect the game's backstory, but admitted that his first job is to create a compelling movie, not appease gamers. The game's executive producer, Rod Ferguson, agreed that changes were necessary in order to avoid the mistakes of past videogame adaptations. "You can be too tied to what is the game," Ferguson said. "We're so oriented at grabbing the gaming audience, we don't leave behind what shouldn't be in the movie. Were' about making the best movie possible, not about making Gears of War the game into a movie. previous movies haven't been willing to let go. We had only three pages [of notes for Wiseman]. 'Please don't kill Marcus.'" Epic Games gave Wiseman and Morgan "basic stuff that are important to us" but otherwise asked that they "make the best movie possible that fits your medium."
One potential change is the addition of female COGs (the elite military soldiers in Gears of War). In the two Gears games we see only male COGs on the field of battle. "I'd love to see it happen," Wiseman said when asked. "I'm a big supporter of that."
The biggest concern is the tone of the film. Too often film adaptations of videogames are one-dimensional, childish and disrespectful to movie audiences. Wiseman gets that. "The tone of the characters and how they interact with each other [lends to] the overall experience of the movie. Look at Aliens in terms of the dark environment, but then how much fun you have with the characters."
"Even though the world is literally at an end," Morgan added, "they still joke. They have real emotion and compassion."
The other concern with a big budget action film is having the story and characters get lost in the special effects. The Gears of War games are largely about these massive action set pieces and are less known for gripping narrative. "It's a balance," Wiseman said. "I approach it from story and character first. The spectacle is going to be there.but that's not what I care about first. I really want to see all that [action] but [only] if you're onboard with who's taking you through that spectacle."
Gears of War has a long way to go before it reaches theatres and Wiseman is already feeling the pressure. "There's so much opinion out there about what this movie should be and shouldn't be, it falls on a very small group of people. and I'm one of those people. Are you going to respect the game? Of course I am. It is a different experience from watching a movie, but it's my job of translating it into the best cinematic story [possible]."