From the BioWare forums, it has now been officially announced that a film will be made of Mass Effect. Legendary Pictures, the studio behind The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and 300, picked up the rights.
Producers will include Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, and Avi Arad, alongside BioWare folk Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuck and Casey Hudson. It appears the producers are trying to sign Mark Protosevich to write the script (The Cell, I Am Legend, and the upcoming Thor). Hudson had the following to say:
At BioWare, we've always thought of Mass Effect as having the depth, emotion and plot twists perfectly suited for an adaptation to a motion picture. With Avi Arad and Legendary attached, we believe that the Mass Effect movie will be an extraordinary entertainment event that realizes our vision for the franchise and thrills fans.
While this should hardly be a surprise, considering how deeply attached the Mass Effect team has been to describing the series through film language, I remain somewhat skeptical. This has very little to do with the studio; while I was only really a fan of The Dark Knight, their films do tend toward higher production values and stay fairly close (in my opinion, perhaps a bit too close in terms of Watchmen, which benefited from the comic medium) to the source material.
No, my concerns? If they decide to follow the game's plot, I wonder about the role of Shepard. While many I know swoon over the traditional dudeShep that graces the cover and most of the videos, I remain a particular fan of Jennifer Hale's voicework--and I can only imagine they will go with the renegade male lead (would love to be proved wrong). I doubt either Hale or Mark Meer will reprise their roles on-screen. Then again, what if the film were to concentrate on discovery of the Mass Relays and First Contact War?
I'm a particular fan of not focusing on the game's plot, because a part of me feels that the reason I like Mass Effect as much as I do is because I am making those choices and seeing their consequences. I interact with the story, not passively watch it--despite the many qualities and conventions it wants to share with movies. Setting a firm film canon seems to fly in the face of the fact that I am having an effect on the universe. I suppose the upside would be opening up the series to more people who might explore the games--though I wonder how many people watch videogame adaptations and then go play the game.
Until trailers and more information are released, I will merely remain cautionary, and while I am sure I'll go see the film even if it does focus on the game's plot, I am not entirely sure I'm sold on the idea. Still, it's far too early to tell, but I worry whenever bigger productions are made of franchises of which I find myself a fan. Anyone else a bit less wary than I and instead excited?