The lights are on
Like most video game movies, a film adaption of the Mass Effect series has been “in the works” for some time. A few days ago, we got a tiny little nibble of information
about the state of the film. It has a new writer who is a fan of Mass
Effect, and Casey Hudson, the director of the Mass Effect games, is an
We wrote about how to make sure an Assassin’s Creed movie wouldn’t be terrible earlier this week, and now it’s time to set our sights on the Mass Effect movie.
1 – Characters Over Everything ElseEven
more important than the overall story (which is still admittedly
excellent) are the characters. Reapers are bad and they are going to
destroy everything is an easy enough premise to establish. What keeps
you interested though, are the individual plights of each character.
More time needs to be spent on character development than plot
2 – Don’t Follow ShepardEvery
single Shepard that has been created belongs to the player that created
him or her. There is no way to emulate the compassion players feel for
their created avatars in a film scenario. Mass Effect is an
interesting universe where new stories can be found or created
that run alongside Shepard’s journey, and these can be just as interesting as
the ones experienced in the games. Shepard’s story can be referenced,
and characters can revere Shepard and what he or she is doing (or did),
but the movie should not be about him or her. That story has already
been expertly told.
3 – Make-Up Over Special EffectsIt’s
difficult to empathize with a digital character that has been placed
into a real world. It is not difficult, however, to empathize with a
puppet character placed into a real world. Who feels more real? Kermit
the frog or the film version of Scooby-Doo? Mass Effect has a huge cast
of bizarre aliens with strange faces and bodies, and if you lean too
hard on creating them with CGI, it will heavily diminish their on-screen
presence. I don’t know much about film-making, but I understand that
working with puppets is much more difficult that hiring a team of
animators to fix it all in post-production. It will be worth it though
in the end. You may be surprised to learn that us humans can quite
easily tell the difference between things that are real, and things that
are digitally animated.4 – Don't Make It An Action MovieMass
Effect has action in it, and the film version should have action
sequences, but the thing you should be thinking about when you leave the
theater are the characters, not the awesome explosions. The recent film
Looper is a good example. A science-fiction story with engaging action
sequences that is all in service of framing the relationships of the
characters. That is what Mass Effect needs to be.
5 – Rein It All InMass
Effect may be a story about a galaxy-effecting alien menace terrorizing
all known life, but that doesn’t mean that a Mass Effect movie should
be broad with a wide focus. Subtlety is important. A Mass Effect movie
should focus on a small group of characters and how they are affected by
the state of the universe. In the same way a good zombie movie isn’t
about the zombies, a good Mass Effect movie shouldn’t be about the
threat. The threat sets up the premise, and the film should be an
examination on how people are affected by that threat, how they are
fighting against it, and how it has changed them.
That’s how I feel about it, anyway. How do you feel about it?
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.