Bioshock: the Movie

By Alec Meer on May 9th, 2008 at 9:31 am.

Oh yes – Rapture for real will be quite the sight to behold.

Oh no – It’s to be directed and produced by Gore ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Verbinski. Well, the first film was loads of fun, but even discounting those sequels, high seas hi-jinks seems an unusual pedigree for undersea rumination upon the nature of man. But hey, both have water and zombies.

“It’s believed to be the biggest videogame-to-movie deal since 2005, when Universal and Fox signed onto the since aborted “Halo” pic, for which Microsoft got $5 million against 10%”, reports Variety.

“”I think the whole utopia-gone-wrong story that’s cleverly unveiled to players is just brimming with cinematic potential. Of all the games I’ve played, this is one that I felt has a really strong narrative”
-Gore Verbinski.

Erm. Perhaps he hasn’t played all that many games, then – although such a comment might explain why the last two Pirates films were so porridgy and incoherent. Let’s hope he’s enthusing more about Bioshock’s setting and backstory than its pay-off, eh? “It’s a much more intimate story than “Pirates.” Although it’s an adventure, it’s a dramatic adventure. I see it more along the lines of ‘Blade Runner’”, he adds in an interview here, in which he also talks about his chuminess with Ken Levine. He makes some of the right noises – at least name-checking free will and Ayn Rand – but the pervading sense is very much ‘big summer blockbuster’. And understandably so. Unlike Andrew Ryan, I very much doubt Verbinski is willing to design an immense underwater city solely for the arthouse crowd.

The immediate problem with using the existing narrative is that, unlike the game, the audience isn’t in the shoes of the lead character, so Bioshock’s moments of greatest resonance will be that much tougher to achieve. Potentially the big reveal could be a bit Sixth Sense – which, in fairness, was reasonably affecting on the first viewing.

Surprisingly, this is Take Two’s first ever movie deal – they’ve resisted a GTA flick for yonks now – and so they’re claiming to be heavily involved with it. They’re also getting a multi-million dollar advance, which means there’ll be a great deal of bigwig self-congratulation about buying up Bioshock developers Irrational last year.

No word yet on whether there’ll be one ending for normal people and another for those who believe there’s nothing wrong with killing little girls.

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100 Comments »

  1. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Wonder if there’s gonna be some Vita-Chamber goodness.

    That oughtta throw Ebert for a loop.

  2. Alarik says:

    Well, whatever.

  3. Howard says:

    Don’t [offer a different opinion to mine], Alec. It may surprise you to know that a) plenty of people very much LIKED the 2nd two PotC films and that b) not everyone thinks that Bioshock was a good game.

  4. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    People -liked- the second two Pirates films? How on earth did that happen?! ;) They were atrocious beyond reckoning -imo-. The gulf between the first and the sequels was really quite astonishing.

    Anyway, it would be hard to write a piece about a new Verbinski film without expressing an opinion of his previous work :P

  5. Crispy says:

    Can’t the film industry Hollywood get its own good writers instead of leeching off comicbook characters and games?

    The only way this film will be good is to maintain subterranian levels of expectations on the off-chance it isn’t half-bad.

  6. Howard says:

    @John P
    Sure it would be hard to discuss any creative person without expressing opinion regarding their work but this article has casually crossed the divide between informed opinion and plain old slander. Very poor work.

    And get a grip. There is nothing wrong with the any of the PotC films, they just are what they are. You want the Godfather2? Go damned well watch it.

  7. Alec Meer says:

    Relax, Howard. I’m sorry we have differing opinions about the films, but don’t take it out on other readers or resort to insults.

  8. Howard says:

    Alec if you can’t play nice, just delete all my posts and yours relating to them. I don’t have space in my head for this level of behaviour.

    Jesus….

  9. Alec Meer says:

    There’s no need for that, sir. Simply express your opinions without insults and all is well.

  10. c-Row says:

    I thought Bioshock would make for a great novel, with the audio tapes as short interplays in between chapters, and it would preserve the moments of resonance you wrote about. Oh well, maybe now we will get the movie novelization…

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    Howard, I’ve just got up and Alec’s not the one who’s sounding insecure. Me? I thought the first Pirates was one of the best action films of the decade, the second fun if meandering and the buzz on the third has prevented me going to see it.

    Throw an insult again though, and you’re just going to get your posts deleted. The ironic-change-of-words is the RPS subtle hint you’re out of line.

    KG

  12. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Okay, i’ll get a grip.

    PULLS SELF TOGETHER.

    Oh yeah, the last two pirate films were awesome! :) Seriously, one person thinking a film sucks and one person thinking it rules happens all the time, no need to get in a panic about it ;)

    Anyway, I think this has a lot of potential, and hey – at least it’s not Uwe Boll, right?

  13. Howard says:

    /edit after Kierons Post/

    Fine I give up. Whatever…

  14. Alec Meer says:

    Your disagreement remains in its entirely, Howard. Only your insult doesn’t.

    And I’m afraid I’ll be abusing my editing powers to remove any further shouting on this matter.

  15. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    It’s just that the rules of this site say “no personal attacks” – you made a personal attack so it got edited out, a “first strike” if you will. That was the problem, not the fact you disagreed.

    If you visit Eurogamer and read some comments there, you will see why I heartily agree with this policy of our RPS overlords!

  16. Slappeh says:

    Only pussies use insults.

    Real men debate!

    (Or fight with lazers, either way suits me fine)

  17. Ian says:

    I loved PotC one, the second was also very good I thought aside from spending too much time on that damn island at the start.

    The problem with the third was there was too much going on in the first hour. I thought the second half pulled it together and

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER (in case Kieron changes his mind about seeing the third later ;))

    SPOOOOOOIIIIIIIIILEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERS

    and the bit at the when Davey Jones stabs Will and Jack looks genuinely devastated was one of the betters parts of the trilogy (not just because Will’s an irritating wimp :D) and actually made Jack seem like less of a cock than he had done for most of the previous one and a half films to that point.

    SPOILERS OVER

    So back on topic, while I need to get back to Bioshock I like what Verbinski did with the PotC films for the most part and so will look forward to this. At least it’s not Uwe Boll. ;)

  18. vordhosbn says:

    Wow, this could end up being amazing. While I felt Bioshock’s gameplay to be a bit repetitious and lacking, the setting and plot were (apart from the final third) great and Gore Verbinski himself is a very competent director. I thought the first Pirates movie was brilliant, The Ring is my absolutely favourite horror movie ever and The Mexican was very fun if not all that memorable. So let’s just pretend the Pirates sequels never happened.

  19. Jonas says:

    I wonder who’ll be writing the script. Clearly Verbinski is capable of directing a film well – if he has a good script to work with, I can’t see what the problem is.

    I only hope they resist the temptation to throw in a Standard Hollywood Romance Subplot™. I like romance subplots, but in Bioshock I’m quite convinced it would seem fantastically tacked on. On the other hand, a film based on Bioshock would probably need more actual dialogue – like, say, a protagonist who can speak :P

  20. Paul Moloney says:

    I guess this means I must actually go back and finish Bioshock; I bought the special edition after being wowed by the demo. But like some people, for me the game ran slightly jerky compared to the demo and I could never get the mouse movement to feel right; lots of niggling irritations meant that I just never got into it. But, I really do want to see how it all pans out, so once I finish Thief DS, it’s back to Rapture…

    Oh, and the first PotC film was wonderful, and the next 2 were meh. This is FACT.

    P.

  21. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Except for Jack and of course the bad guy, few of the main characters in PotC had enough personality for more than one movie. That is why 2 and 3 got filled with a lot of stuff that was totally irrelevant to the story or the characters of the protagonists.

    Also, if you liked The Ring, try out the Japanese originals. I find them 10.7% scarier with only a 6.4% decrease in production value, which results in a 4.3% net gain in awesomeness.

  22. Alec Meer says:

    Oh – the script’s being written by the guy who penned the Aviator. Which I haven’t seen, so can’t say anything to upset its fans.

  23. Jonas says:

    As I recall, The Aviator was… adequate. Not very memorable, but pretty decently written. Its central character portrait was quite nicely done.

    [EDIT OF BELATED RESEARCH] A quick check of IMDB reveals he (John Logan) also wrote The Last Samurai, which I thought was nice, The Time Machine, which I found to be a quite entertaining adventure film with many good ideas, and Gladiator, which was generally full of goodness (although I’d attribute most of that to Ridley Scott).

    I reckon this track record makes a romance subplot pretty much inevitable, however :)

  24. Morph says:

    General agreement that PotC 1 = awesome, 2 & 3 = badness. But with the nasty taste of 3 in my mouth, I’m cautiously optimistic about the Bioshock movie.

    Underwater Bladerunner sounds pretty good to me.

  25. Crispy says:

    If anyone were to do a Bioshock film it should be alongside Marc Caro. He was largely responsible for the art direction and writing of 4-year project Cité des enfants perdus. This is exactly the sort of person who could do Rapture justice.

  26. Gap Gen says:

    “Oh – the script’s being written by the guy who penned the Aviator. Which I haven’t seen, so can’t say anything to upset its fans.”

    Yes you can! Watch: I found [FILM NAME]‘s dialogue to be turgid and stilted. Every word coming out of [INSERT LEAD ACTOR'S NAME HERE] mouth sounded like a little piece of his soul disintegrating. I would rather floss my ears with barbed wire than see that film again.

  27. Crispy says:

    If anyone were to do a Bioshock film it should be alongside Marc Caro. He was largely responsible for the art direction and writing of 4-year project Cité des enfants perdus (watch the video trailer to see what I mean). This is exactly the sort of person who could do Rapture justice.

  28. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    One could always take an indirect jab at Howard Hughes fans, instead. So! How ’bout that Spruce Goose?

  29. Jonas says:

    Crispy, how about Scott Sinclair, Art Director on the actual game? He could at least consult a bit for them.

  30. Gulag says:

    Is it safe to come in now?

    I can speak for neither BioShock, having not played it, nor The Pirates of the Carribbean, having not seen all of them. However I will offer this observation on the Game-to-Movie phenom.

    “Halo: The Movie – Evolved” would have been the best movie Evar!

    It was big, stupid, explodey and georgeous and had a story you could understand without the use of a frontal lobe. Perfect for Hollywood. (It also made abundent reuse of it’s sets, another good movie trick when cash is tight.)

    Which is why I think Bioshock might just disappoint. Of course it’s got the right mix of beautiful setting plus that old staple of the horror flick, Mr. Zombie, all dressed up in 1920′s Art Deco chic, but I’m lead to believe that it is the moral dillemmas that raise the game above the common herd. Not an easy thing to translate to the big screen, especially when the actors are up to their bums in water. (Another bugbear of the movie business. Filming in water, not actors.)

    I predict (If it ever gets made.) that “Bioshock-The Movie” will be another “Resident Evil” except underwater, in a nice dress. Don’t be suprised if they make the main character a woman, and give her a child to look after about 20 minutes in.

  31. Jonas says:

    Actually in my (maybe not as) humble (as it should be) opinion, Bioshock’s moral dilemmas were fairly weak and disappointing. It was the plot twist, the different layers of story, and the game’s oodles and oodles of atmosphere that made it stand out.

    Oh and they’re not technically zombies. But close enough.

  32. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I can’t even fathom how they’ll craft a good film from this. So much of what made the narrative work in the first place was because it was a game. Ho hum, guess I’ll have to wait and see.

  33. Jochen Scheisse says:

    You insult the Spruce Goose, Sir? Pistols at Dawn!

  34. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    So be it. Have at you!

  35. Phil says:

    I’m willing to wager five pounds this will be an underwater Aliens Vs Predators.

    It will feature, in order;

    Protagonist initially attacked by splicers, chased through tunnels until they find a wretch and get pay back to the tune of ‘under the sea.’

    1min objectivist tinged dialogue for every 20 splicers killed.

    A touching unmasking of big daddy, who is then kissed on the cheek by a little sister, a soppy smile on his big, mishapen face, while all his eyes in unison weap.

    Oh, and PoTC 3 was so bad I believe it’s actually carcinogenic.

  36. slang says:

    Man, gamers are a strange breed. Most of them know shit about films and think they know all about games because they play them. I really wish all the selfproclaimed gaming experts would give Hollywood a break so they can just concentrate on the process of translating those interactive stories into proper cinamatic equivalents, step by step.
    Hiring Verbinski and not some unknown shows that they take the source material seriously. All the POC films were basically perfect mainstream Hollywood style cinema, both from a technical and a storytelling perspective. Verbinski has a very good sense for organic designs and powerful, yet slightly darker, stories. It’s not like Hollywood is taking away the game by making a film. Gee!

  37. Jonathan says:

    Am I the only person surprised Levine, a former script writer, isn’t writing it? Having played SWAT 4 and Bioshock I think he and the Cradle guy would also make pretty good director team.

    Reply to Slang.
    Oh is there nothing you won’t say.

  38. slang says:

    @Jonathan
    Remember it’s a Hollywood project. With such a huge budget involved ANY responsible producer would go for Verbinski instead of Levine. I’m sure Levine will have some sort of input…on a lower level.

  39. Irish Al says:

    Pirates II was great Krak. En.

  40. Dan (WR) says:

    I could see this working if it were played along the lines of Dark City, but I can’t see that happening.

    I’m not sure how anyone can judge Verbinski’s potential for this based just on the PotC movies though. It’s a totally different kettle of fish. Not everyone in Hollywood does exactly the same thing time and time again (like Michael Bay), and he doesn’t have Bruckheimer and the weight and expectation of a big-money franchise looming over him now.

  41. Jonathan says:

    Reply to slang
    Given how miffed he seemed about EA taking his System Shock license it’ll be interesting how he’ll take this. He might even do an Alan Moore and refuse to acknowledge it. Or more likely just be really happy about finally making a commercialy successful game.

  42. Johann Tor says:

    Did Andrew Ryan design Rapture for the arthouse crowd?
    I doubt that Levine did that, even.

  43. Lucky says:

    Fun(?) fact: Aviator was on television while I played through Fort Frolic (Floric? What the heck was it called?). Coincidence… or NOT?

  44. Alex says:

    I hated all three Pirates movies. Overlong and boring.

  45. Kieron Gillen says:

    Slang makes an important point: This isn’t the usual shitty videogame director. He’s come from an enormous successful series of films and chose to do this.

    KG

  46. AbyssUK says:

    Bioshock the film will start off brilliantly but then get boring in the middle and then end with the worst end fight of any film ever.

    Just a guess..

    Also can’t we just be happy that Uwe Boll isn’t going to be on the credits.. come on that gives this film at least a chance right??

    Also PotC = Monkey Island so as PC gamers we HAVE TO LIKE IT!

  47. Homunculus says:

    Nice that the rebuttal to Atlas Shrugged is also making the transition to film at around the same time.

  48. Heliocentric says:

    eh… Silent hill had a style i wanted to see in a film (as the game was basicaly a film with playable action sequences) yeah, they kinda assed it up sure. But bioshock half that game was setting up traps and beating splicers over the head with a wrench while your hoarde of friendly-flying-gunbots do the real damage.

    As nice as bioshock was? i’d say system shock would be a better movie, only problem is 2001 was already made.

  49. Jochen Scheisse says:

    No really, I think the Hollywood adaption of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, announced for 2009, has more potential by far.

    But that might be because I actually played that one >.<

  50. James G says:

    While the Bioshock universe could easily form the basis of a film, I have a hard time seeing how the events of the game itself could form an interesting narative. The main story delivered in the game was through the diaries, and although there was the whole Ryan/Atlas/Fontaine situation, with which you got more directly involved, this still relied on the background you uncovered in your exploration of Rapture. It is difficult to see how they will deliver this story more directly in a post-war rapture.

    To be honest, I think a more interesting basis for a film would be the fall of Rapture. In this situation you have far more characters to play with. The diaries already gave some perspective of ordinary citizens of Rapture if it is felt that the big players would make for unsympathetic protagonists. Of course, this will bypass the whole ‘free will’ aspect of the game.