View Single Post
Old April 30 2013, 10:49 PM   #29
Rear Admiral
Reverend's Avatar
Location: UK
Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Reverend wrote: View Post
I'm of two minds about this. It's certainly possible to just jump in with both feet and I don't think anything as elaborate as the Lotr & Hobbit prologues would suit, but I think a simple text crawl on is own isn't enough.
The thing is that the movie doesn't need to go too deep down the Mass Effect rabbit-hole, just like the Star Wars text intro didn't impart too much information about that universe. The evil Empire is building a weapon capable of destroying planets, the freedom loving rebels are trying to stop them, that's all we knew when the action began. Everything else, including major elements of the Star Wars universe such as the Force and the Jedi, were handled as exposition. And the detailed stuff was left for the Expanded Universe.

The audience doesn't need to know about the ruins on Mars, or the First Contact War, or how the Council functions. All they really need to know is that galactic civilisation is based on the technology of of a race called the Proteans that disappeared 50,000 years ago. Then the movie is free to move on to Shepard killing evil robots.
The thing with Star Wars was that it was a very archetypal morality play with black and white definitions of good and evil. Plus the imagery was deeply iconic, tapping into cultural memes on a lot of different levels. So not really any need for background because it was largely irrelevant.

Mass Effect has a lot more shades of grey (or red & blue? ) Plus, as I said you don't want to burden the characters with too much exposition and you especially don't want the audience asking questions like "what's that bird looking alien thing?", "What are protheans?" and "what the hell is the mass effect anyhow?" when they should be getting drawn into the story and getting to know that characters.

While, as I said something like the LotR prologue would be a bit too much, it is a good example of how to explain and set-up a fantasy world with a very complex history without really going into that much detail at all. 'Serenity' is another good example. The 'Verse was pretty quickly and clearly sketched out including the Alliance, the War of Unification and even the reavers. Simon & River and the antagonist were introduced, the tone was set and the stage set all in a matter of minutes.

Conversely, to give an example of how to do it wrong: 'The Golden Compass'. Having not read the books (nor I might add had I read LotR before seeing the film) I was totally lost for at least the first 20 minutes. No idea what was going on, what this energy they kept talking about was and why everyone had rodents chasing after them everywhere.

The other thing about a prologue is that it should do more than dump exposition, it should set the tone for the whole film. With LotR is was all huge epic fantasy stuff with elves and orcs and a bit tall bloke with a super-mace before the film could wind it all back and spend the first 40 minutes of the film proper in Hobbiton. With Hellboy you got the sense that dark & mysterious in a pulpy kind of way, paranormal yet oddly grounded and somewhat quirky. All the Indiana Jones and Bond films had similar openings that weren't so much about explaining the who-what-where-why as setting the tone and getting things off to an exciting start so again, they could wind it back and take the time to build the actual plot of the film.

Starting it off with the Mars discovery--and I'm only talking like 5 or 6 shots and 3 minutes of screen time with little if any dialogue--should get across that sense of wonder and grandeur that you won't really get again until the Citadel reveal (at least 20-30 minutes in) and near the end on Ilos. You really don't want the film to start with Shepard being briefed by Anderson and Nihlus.

I don't disagree, but you'd have to contrive some reason why a queen hatched from a two thousand year old egg would have the "cipher" of a race that went extinct forty eight thousand years before it was laid. That or find some other way to get the cipher. In theory I suppose it could be skipped, but on some level I think it's important that Shepard have that "special" affinity with the Protheans.
I think the Cipher could probably be skipped, it's only real purpose was to hold up the story and that's not necessary in a 2-hour movie. Shepard's special affinity for the Protheans can instead come from the beacon on Eden Prime. The purpose for Saren going after the Rachni Queen is the same as in the game, to uncover the location of the Mu relay.
Yeah, I suppose the vision could gradually sort itself out over the course of the film, as if it were actively rewriting his cognitive pathways (I say as if I even know what that means!) so his brain can make sense of the transmission.

I did wonder about that. Going from Virmire, to the Citadel, to Ilos then right back to the Citadel does seem like a bit of a run-around. Not sure what a good alternative could be though. Just ignoring the order to return to base over the comms may simplify things, but I think it's important at that point in the film for Shepard to reach a low ebb and feel utterly powerless. It's all about the peaks and valleys.
I think the death of Ashley Alenko, the escape of Saren, and the refusal of Council support is enough of a trough in the story. Maybe Shepard is initially willing to acquiesce to the Council's order to return to the Citadel because he doesn't want to risk his crew in facing Sovereign alone. But the crew stand united in their willingness to sacrifice their lives to stop Sovereign, and that gives Shepard renewed hope, or some such pablum.
I just don't think it'd be sufficient. Just ignoring orders to return to base--which in the game Shepard is more than willing because he's led to believe the fleet is mobilising to confront Saren--seems way too cheep. Loosing Ashlenko would be a blow, but it wouldn't leave Shepard and a low ebb. No I think he needs to have his ship taken from him, forcing him to take it back and risk everything. It's the all or nothing gamble. He hasn't just ignored an order, he's risked not only his life, career but that of those around him.

More the the point, Shepard's whole crew (plus Anderson) have willingly gone along with it because they believe in Shepard. When you get right down to it, the characteristic that most defines Shepard (*any* Shepard) is leadership. The ability to inspire others to do more than they thought they could. This is the point when that faith is truly tested.

Plus, just calling Normandy and telling them they've been grounded would make Udina and the council look *really* stupid. Not the nominal level of tunnel vision stupidity they already display, but full on pants-on-head, pencils up their nostrils retardedness. In the game Udina is canny enough to wait until the Normandy is back and Shepard ashore before mentioning that the ship is in lockdown. He wouldn't have done that unless he knew full well how Shep would have reacted.
Reverend is offline   Reply With Quote