November ’06 was a pretty big month for video games, primarily thanks to the drooling/panting anticipation of the XBOX 360 exclusive Gears of War. The merits of the game can be debated all day long by brand loyalty soldiers and the people who love to incite them, but fact is, Gears of War jumped to graphics worthy of being called next gen at the time, excelled at creepy atmospherics and (despite a level of redundancy) is a lot of fun to play. Apparently, it also has some chainsaw feature that lets you rip into howling enemies as they discharge gouts of blood and epidermis. But I wouldn’t know because video games are for nerds. And by nerds, I guess I mean me.
With such a massive November arrival and subsequent fanbase, and with the action heavy game being inherently developed for film franchise potential, it was no secret that the Gears of War movie adaptation was not if, but when. Since Gears is getting a movie-related article here at CHUD, you’ve probably guessed that zero hour has indeed arrived. New Line has nabbed feature rights to Marcus Fenix, S & M looking Locust, big helicopters and bugs that shoot exploding fleshballs out of their anus after an auction in which a 21 page script, written by Stuart Beattie of Collateral/30 days of Night fame, was reviewed.
Despite large chunks of the game being hugely derivative (I’ll throw Pitch Black and Hellraiser out as a couple examples), Epic Games crafted a pretty extensive back story- only a modicum of which was actually featured in the single player game, to its discredit. (For the fleshed out backstory and detail on the games world, visit here). What little story that was featured in the game had cookie-cutter soldier (tough guy, raspy voice, muscles bigger than his waist size) Marcus Fenix being sprung from prison as an underground enemy called Locust (and their big, scary pets) decimate the world of Sera. The l’il squad that could sets out to retrieve a weapon that will destroy the subterranean enemy at its source, ducking, chainsawing and shooting all the way along.
Game creator Cliff Bleszinski (I will not call him Cliffy B except in mockery) is executive producing/consulting, which, honestly, doesn’t bode well for the literary quality* of the film, but does bode well for lots of locker room dialogue and flesh-rending violence. Still, it’s the "literary" aspect that’s going to finally elevate video game movies from expectations of steaming crap to films that stand worthily on their own. I’m sure I speak for a lot of folks when I say that’s what everyone is waiting for someone… anyone, to do.
Gears of War is being set up for a summer 2009 release, with a director being attached as soon as the script is complete. Only 99 more pages to go.
*In the end, who’s going to see it for anything beyond action and violence? Everyone else, that’s who. Miss that aspect and Gears misses the opportunity for cinematic legitimacy every other video game has.