Friday, August 28, 2015

Borderlands Is Getting A Movie Too! Collective Groaning May Continue

I don't think my opinion is going to be very popular with my friends (now that they're spamming Facebook with the news). Thank goodness for blogs!

So. Borderlands. It's been optioned as a movie by Lionsgate by Avi Arad. The name may sound familiar. He has been the producer behind a massive string of superhero  Marvel movies over the past decade, including Iron Man and Spiderman. Lionsgate has made it known that they want to get into video games, both development and movie adaptations. But Borderlands...I don't know. It doesn't sit well with me.

While a lot of it has to do with the iffy past of video game based movies, I don't see the Borderlands style translating well into film. With the narrative there's potential. If you cut out the 50 hours you spend level grinding and doing fetch quests, you could squish the BL1 or BL2 plot into a 2 hour movie. A rag-tag group teams up to find a "vault" on a mysterious world. Done.

But BL animation quality is something we probably should not expect. For those who are unfamiliar with BL, it has a very distinct look. Don't call it cell shading because GearBox will chastise you. It's a unique inking technique that utilizes a lot of bold, dark lines. It allows the characters to really pop against the landscape. And it works well in video games and photographs. In person, it looks really, really weird. As someone who cosplays from this game, the second most-received comment that I get is "what's with all the black lines?" The first being "how did you get your hair to do that?" You have to look like a 1960's Mod art piece with your costumes to emulate the Borderlands style. Which means lots of black lines. Everywhere.

Unless you're accustomed to this visual format, it can be very distracting. This is why you don't see a lot of comic book movies looking to replicate the art style. It can turn off the audience. Sin City stood out for doing this, and it did it really darn well. They were able to capture the feel of the comics without destroying the integrity. Alterations had to be made in the movie so as to keep the movie appealing to the audience (some shadows were not as severe, for example). But it was still a difficult movie to watch for non-fans. I can easily see Borderlands having to overcome this issue. Do we go for "real" or for "game?" And how many people will stop watching if we take the "game" route?

The other glaring issue for me is the dialogue. Borderlands is a game with adult-kid-like humor. There are fart and poop jokes wrapped into swear words and sexual innuendo. You need to have the mindset of a 6 year old to enjoy this game. I don't mean that as an insult. If you can't laugh through Borderlands, then you're playing it wrong. Part of what makes the game stand out from it's counterparts is just how silly the whole thing is.

You have a disembodied voice guiding you to the vault. There's a wisecracking, foul-mouthed robot that assist you in your travels. There are teenagers who love to blow up lots of sh*t and are demolition experts. You have super powers, instant robot building skills, and a f-ton of guns that appear out of nowhere. And it's all wrapped into a world where finding ammo in toilets is perfectly normal.

One could argue that the humor is no different in movies such as Bridesmaids, but BL is on a different level. It manages to work the humor, action, and drama into it's story - compared to Bridesmaids which is a straight-forward comedy. All 3 of these plot types are on the same level. There isn't a favoritism in action over humor, or humor over drama. It's not like Die Hard where it's action first, a handful of witty lines second. You are consistently given all 3 plot types throughout the game. How you turn that into a movie is beyond my creative comprehension.

Also poop jokes. Not every adult appreciates them.

I think Borderlands was selected for a few reasons:

- The obvious Mad Max references in the game, now that it's cool to be dystopian again, could easily draw in a larger audience beyond the gaming crowd.

- The basic plot is easy enough to recreate and revamp for movie audiences.

- Characters are memorable, and a cast of 4 heroes is easy to keep track of.

- Video game movies are making another resurgence in production with the likes of World of Warcraft and Halo nearing closer to solid release dates.

My message to the producer and writing team: I strongly encourage you all to pull an Ace Attorney. You may not get the general movie audience on your side, but you'll certainly earn accolades from gamers and reviewers. The more you make the movie like the Borderlands game, the better. Go over the top on the visual style. Be stupid with the dialogue. Make ClapTrap as annoying as possible. Have a butt-ton of guns! This is the only way I can see the film working. So please. Make this movie as amazing as it could be and prove me wrong on my opinion!


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