Movies adapted from video games have long been little more than punchlines for both critics and fans, serving up flimsy, soulless adaptations that both misunderstand what made the game good and fail to figure out how to translate that to the big screen. Still, it stands to reason that eventually video-game movies will follow in the footsteps of comic-book movies and finally get it right. If part of that eventual success hinges upon having a rich and detailed game world to build upon, the in-the-works Deus Ex movie should have better luck than most. The director and writer behind the Deus Ex movie recently spoke with CraveOnline, explaining their goals, their inspirations, and why they aren’t making a “video game movie,” even though they’re making a video game movie.
Director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill (who worked together on last year’s Sinister) definitely aren’t aiming low with their aspirations for the Deus Ex adaptation. Cargill cites some pretty lofty competition when it comes to their inspirations for the project: Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Rian Johnson’s Looper, and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. Cargill explains:
…the reason why we reference Inception, Looper, and District 9 was that they were all movies that took certain familiar science fiction methodologies and turned them upside-down and brought a grounded realism to them. Time travel, aliens arriving on Earth, going into the dream world… Those are all things that you’ve seen a dozen bad versions of, and it dozen decent versions of that. But no one, until those three films, no one had gone into filmmaking from a grounded, realistic point of view and made something with a fresh aesthetic.
Of course, all the big talk in the world can’t distract from the fact that video games have traditionally been awful. For Deus Ex, It will all come down to the execution, and whether Cargill and Derrickson can back up their boasts. They are at least starting from a good position: they consider Deus Ex a “cyberpunk movie,” rather than a “video game movie.”
We’ve taken a look at what’s worked in video games and what hasn’t, and really what we’ve broken down is what we think the audience really wants, [what] the audience that loves Deus Ex is going to want to see out of a Deus Ex movie. And it’s not a rehashing of the game. What they want to see is, they want to see elements of the game that they love, but they want to see things that they hadn’t quite seen in the game, that the game didn’t allow them to see. So it’s really allowed us to expand upon the things that happened in the game, and the game has such a great cinematic story to begin with that those elements are very easy to extract.
Of course, there haven’t exactly been a ton of top-notch cyberpunk movies either, but Derrickson thinks modern audiences are ready for that genre to be more fully exploited on its own terms. Here’s Derrickson:
I think that there was a little bit of the Blade Runner curse, a little bit of the Matrix curse, where you’ve got these movies that touch on cyberpunk elements that aren’t really cyberpunk films but they are so iconic, and so insurmountable. They’re perfect films in their own ways, [but] no one has been able to break free of that, or no one has broken free of that, and tried to go at it completely fresh. I think that we’re going to see a wave of them, I predict. I think that cyberpunk is going to break out. There’s going to be a new kind of science fiction film, and it will be cyberpunk, and it will be amazing.
The first Deus Ex game was released back in 2000, the brainchild of legendary game designer Warren Spector and Harvey Smith. The original game was followed by the less well-received Deus Ex: Invisible War in 2003, and the series then came back with a vengeance with the excellent prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution in 2011. That latter game is largely serving as the inspiration for Derrickson and Cargill’s film. No cast is attached at this point, but the Deus Ex movie is expected to release sometime in 2014.
You can read the full interview at CraveOnline.