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Old April 29 2013, 06:00 PM   #16
Jeyl
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
Yeah, see, I'm working under the bold assumption that a Mass Effect movie would actually have a script, and not just be some guy's playthrough. Shepard could have just as much character development as needed.
You mean like having numerous dreams of Shepard chasing a boy who's alone in the woods? That attempt at character development really did wonders.

In the end, Shepard is no different from all the other space marines that we've all grown accustomed to. Get the guns, fight the aliens, save the world. All the reasons you can give in making Shepard more of a character can be applied to any of the characters in the series. You don't need Shepard to tell a good Mass Effect story.
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Old April 29 2013, 06:18 PM   #17
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

Jeyl wrote: View Post
In the end, Shepard is no different from all the other space marines that we've all grown accustomed to. Get the guns, fight the aliens, save the world. All the reasons you can give in making Shepard more of a character can be applied to any of the characters in the series. You don't need Shepard to tell a good Mass Effect story.
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard. If there's a Mass Effect movie, it's going to be about Commander Shepard, not about Random Salarian #342. It's not a value judgement, it's what is likely to happen.

Sure, I guess you could tell any kind of stories in the Mass Effect universe, and yes, I guess you could also make a Harry Potter movie about a family of magical dancing frogs, but the only point of doing a movie adaptation of Mass Effect is to bring to the silver screen a close approximation of some of the elements that people enjoyed about the game. Featuring the main character is one of those elements. It may not be what you'd like to see, but it is at least somewhat rooted in reality.
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Old April 29 2013, 07:19 PM   #18
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

Firstly, Mass Effect would do far better as a TV series than a movie. The story is already neatly formatted into episodes, and that's true of all three games. A TV series would allow the inclusion of all the characters, and would provide ample time to establish the backstory of the universe. Sadly, they seem determined to make a movie instead, so I'm working off that assumption.

Firstly, I agree with most of what Reverend said, even the part about leaving out main characters. As a huge Garrus fan, it pains me to admit that he's not a necessary character and could easily be written out of the whole trilogy, but a small role for him and Tali would be best for ME1.

I don't think there should be a prologue, the brief text-based infodump from the game is enough, and somewhat reminiscent of Star Wars. Explaining the history and depth of the Mass Effect universe can be left to the games where it can be explored fully at the player's leisure.

I like the idea of including Cerberus into the Peak 15 section of the story, but I don't see the point of including the Thorian at the expense of the Rachni. The conclusion of the Rachni arc in ME3 was certainly underwhelming, but they still mean more to the Mass Effect universe than the Thorian ever did.

I think that Eden Prime, the Citadel, Noveria, Virmire, and Ilos may be too many locations to include in a 2-hour action-flick, so merging the important sections of the Virmire mission into Noveria may be necessary. I also think returning to the Citadel before heading to Ilos would interrupt the flow of the story, going there directly from Virmire/Noveria would be best. You can still include Shepard defying his orders, just do it over the comm instead. We'd miss Anderson punching Udina in the face, but that's small potatoes compared to losing the awesomeness that is Garrus.

Finally, I like the idea of a post-credit sequence, but I think the reveal should be the Illusive Man. Take that scene between him and Miranda from the start of ME2 and attach it on to the end of the first movie instead.


In the end, what we are left with is a butchered carcass of a story that's missing some of its best characters, best scenes, and interesting backstory.
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Old April 29 2013, 09:05 PM   #19
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

Firstly, I agree with most of what Reverend said, even the part about leaving out main characters. As a huge Garrus fan, it pains me to admit that he's not a necessary character and could easily be written out of the whole trilogy, but a small role for him and Tali would be best for ME1.
Tali is my favourite character, so you can imagine how loathed I'd be to cut her out. Still, part of me thinks you should either do her right or not at all and a glorified cameo just doesn't sit right. Same deal with Garrus.

I have been thinking though, what if Liara and Tali could both be introduced on the Citadel? What if Tali was helping Liara on her dig as part of her pilgrimage? Maybe hoping she'd be able to find some scrap of viable Prothean tech, or an intact data-disc to bring back to the fleet? Maybe what she found is more than just the Mu relay, but some encrypted data on the crucible too. Maybe the disc is damaged so all they can get out of it are the co-ordinates and something cryptic that'll eventually lead them to Mars in ME3?

Or maybe Liara could be introduced even earlier. Say maybe she was already on Eden Prime and was the witness to Nihlus's murder? Maybe she was there helping the Alliance investigate the ruins before the beacon was first uncovered? Perhaps Ash was with her during the attack and Shepard recruits them both at the same time? That way you can establish a bond between those two so their death on Virmire hits Liara just as hard? Either way I'd still make Kaiden & Ash the same character.

I don't think there should be a prologue, the brief text-based infodump from the game is enough, and somewhat reminiscent of Star Wars. Explaining the history and depth of the Mass Effect universe can be left to the games where it can be explored fully at the player's leisure.
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 advantage of a prologue is that the audience isn't distracted by fundamental questions early on. You also don't want to have to compensate by putting too much exposition into the dialogue throughout the film that could be put to better use for character development.

Maybe a short scene of the first explorers on Mars coming across the Prothean ruins, followed by a montage along the lines of Watchmen, Hellboy and 'Wolverine'?

I like the idea of including Cerberus into the Peak 15 section of the story, but I don't see the point of including the Thorian at the expense of the Rachni. The conclusion of the Rachni arc in ME3 was certainly underwhelming, but they still mean more to the Mass Effect universe than the Thorian ever did.
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 Thorian could be made into something more if necessary. As I think I've mentioned before, one of my pet theories prior to Leviathan was the the Thorian was a devolved survivor from the original race the created the reapers. Hell, it just still might. A few billion years is more than enough time to turn a giant cuttlefish into a giant veggie-squid. Indeed, it might be the best way to begin laying in the Leviathan back-story so it does feel tacked on in ME3.

The Rachni could still be there as their thralls, seeding the idea that Leviathan were indeed directing them during the war. Either way, even if you go down the route of letting the queen live and have them reappear in ME3, the best you could hope for is something akin the the Eagles (no, not the band!) turning up at the Black Gates at the 11th hour.
I think that Eden Prime, the Citadel, Noveria, Virmire, and Ilos may be too many locations to include in a 2-hour action-flick, so merging the important sections of the Virmire mission into Noveria may be necessary. I also think returning to the Citadel before heading to Ilos would interrupt the flow of the story, going there directly from Virmire/Noveria would be best. You can still include Shepard defying his orders, just do it over the comm instead. We'd miss Anderson punching Udina in the face, but that's small potatoes compared to losing the awesomeness that is Garrus.
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.
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Old April 29 2013, 09:22 PM   #20
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard.
Mass Effect 4 wishes to argue with you. BioWare have said that Shepard's story is done. The next game will be something completely new.

With the way BioWare treat their stories, I'd imagine they'll do exactly the same for a movie spin-off.

Last edited by NightJim; April 29 2013 at 09:24 PM. Reason: fixing quote
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Old April 29 2013, 09:24 PM   #21
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard. If there's a Mass Effect movie, it's going to be about Commander Shepard, not about Random Salarian #342. It's not a value judgement, it's what is likely to happen.
And thank goodness this thread isn't about "what's likely to happen" for a Mass Effect movie. Also, what's wrong with Salarians?
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Old April 29 2013, 10:00 PM   #22
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

NightJim wrote: View Post
The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard.
Mass Effect 4 wishes to argue with you. BioWare have said that Shepard's story is done. The next game will be something completely new.

With the way BioWare treat their stories, I'd imagine they'll do exactly the same for a movie spin-off.
IF the film gets made, it won't be Bioware doing the making. They're a game developer, not a movie studio. The writers & producers of the games are likely to have only as much input into the movie as Legendary feel inclined to allow them. That's assuming they'll have any real input at all.

Jeyl wrote: View Post
The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard. If there's a Mass Effect movie, it's going to be about Commander Shepard, not about Random Salarian #342. It's not a value judgement, it's what is likely to happen.
And thank goodness this thread isn't about "what's likely to happen" for a Mass Effect movie. Also, what's wrong with Salarians?
No, it's about how one might go about adapting the first Mass Effect game into a film, possibly with the assumption that game 2 & 3 will be similarly adapted. A topic to which you have so far contributed nothing constructive.
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Old April 30 2013, 12:21 AM   #23
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

NightJim wrote: View Post
The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
We're talking about Mass Effect. The main character of Mass Effect is called Commander Shepard.
Mass Effect 4 wishes to argue with you. BioWare have said that Shepard's story is done. The next game will be something completely new.

With the way BioWare treat their stories, I'd imagine they'll do exactly the same for a movie spin-off.
Legendary have already stated that the movie will feature a male Shepard, with the plot being adapted from the first game.
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Old April 30 2013, 05:13 AM   #24
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

I would make six different versions of the movie, three with a male shepard, three with a female shepard, one each pure renegade, one each pure paragon, and one each be more than a little ambiguous. This wouldn't be as hard to do as you'd think; under normal circumstances, your editors would only use the best takes from each scene to put the movie together in the editing room. In this case, you film the exact same scene at the exact same time with the male AND female lead and have the editors take the best takes from each version of the scene. Paragon Shepards would spare the Rachni, sacrifice Ashley, sleep with Kaiden (Liara for the male), argue Saren into killing himself, and rescue the Council. Renegade Shepards would kill the Rachni, sacrifice Kaiden, sleep with Ashley (or Liara for the female), talk Saren into lowering his guard so Garrus could snipe him to death, and tell the council "Fuck you, shoulda listened to me when I warned you" as the Geth board the Destiny Ascension and rip them to shreds. Middle-ground Shepards would spare the rachni, sacrifice whichever squad member they were more likely to sleep with (and therefore get no play at all in this movie), argue Saren into killing himself, and then tell the fleet to focus on Sovereign while sending one last message to the council saying "Forgive me, councilors, but the whole galaxy is at stake here!"

Then I would do everything possible to make sure that you couldn't actually know which version of the movie you were going to see when you went to the theaters, and make sure that absolutely nobody has any idea that the film is actually put together in multiple versions.

Then I would gleefully watch critics and moviegoers totally loose their shit as they begin to realize what's going on.
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Old April 30 2013, 09:33 AM   #25
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

I would make six different versions of the movie, three with a male shepard, three with a female shepard, one each pure renegade, one each pure paragon, and one each be more than a little ambiguous...
Fascinating. So what you really want is some sort interactive medium where the viewer can choose their protagonist and guide their decisions? Like, oh, say, a video game? I think you misunderstand the meaning of the word "adaptation."
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Old April 30 2013, 02:20 PM   #26
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

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.


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.

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.


As an aside, I had a dream last night that Steven Colbert did a sketch where he dressed up as an Asari. Just thought I'd spread that mental image around.
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Old April 30 2013, 05:37 PM   #27
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

I would prefer a TV series. But a good movie can be made based on the first game. Hell you could probably make a trilogy out of the first game alone.

I haven't given much thought to the structure, I'll read the OP a little later, but the main plot of the original game is pretty darn perfect as it is, I don't see the need for major revisions. There's always going to be quibbles about whether it would be right to have Shepard as the main character because Shep is defined by the players and the actions they take as the protagonist. But if it were up to me, I'd have a male paragon Shep. How many 'renegade' characters ever play the main hero? Not often, so Shep in this game would be a good guy but will take tough action where necessary. The plot would follow that of the game. Maybe have some more background to Shep included. I wouldn't omit any of the main characters. I would include them all but give most of the screen time to a select few. So my Kirk and Spock would be Shepard and Liara. They can hook up as well as Liara would be my Shep's preferred romantic interest although to be honest, I wouldn't place a huge amount of emphasis on the romance side. I think it's overplayed by the fans and won't work too well in a stand-alone movie. A proper romance can develop over a trilogy (e.g. Han and Leia), not squeezed into one movie.

What I wouldn't want to see is a faithfully adapted movie based on ME3. Seeing the Star Brat on the silver screen and his bullshit explanation of the Reapers would piss me right off.
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Old April 30 2013, 07:59 PM   #28
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

Reverend wrote: View Post
I would make six different versions of the movie, three with a male shepard, three with a female shepard, one each pure renegade, one each pure paragon, and one each be more than a little ambiguous...
Fascinating. So what you really want is some sort interactive medium where the viewer can choose their protagonist and guide their decisions?
No.

It would be a science fiction movie that you could go to see six different times and have a slightly different experience every time. Much like players who go back for a second or third playthrough multiple times because they wonder "What would happen if I...?"

You can't have viewers controlling the decisions of characters in a movie, that just doesn't work. However, you CAN replicate the end result: that you can experience the events of Mass Effect a thousand different ways, that even if you've seen the movie before you can't be totally sure you know what's going to happen because you don't necessarily know which version you're seeing, or even if you do, the last time you went you saw the paragon version and you don't know what to expect from the renegade.

Like the game, the experience of the movie would be a film that you can't see just once. I might even be a real dick about it and fix it so that the DVD release only puts a single version on each disk so that you actually have to buy six different DVDs to get every single version.

FYI, filmmakers have been doing stuff like this -- albeit on a much smaller scale -- for years. For example "Clue" actually has three different endings that were totally randomized in the theatrical release, so even if you'd seen the movie already you could go to the theater a week later and be totally surprised who the killer actually was. I'm basically proposing the same thing, but doing it for the entire movie, not just the ending.
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Old April 30 2013, 10:49 PM   #29
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

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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.
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Old May 1 2013, 02:23 AM   #30
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Re: How would you adapt Mass Effect into a movie?

I happen to be starting another playthrough of ME1 right now (FemShep Sentinel, should be fun!) and I really think the opening is perfect as-is. Brief text scrawl, flying out through the solar system towards the Charon relay as Joker narrates and we follow Shepard from behind to the bridge, the jump, banter with Nihlus/Joker/Alenko, quick conversations with Presley, Jenkins and Chakwas, and then the briefing then drop onto Eden Prime.

First-time players of the game didn't know anything about the universe either or what the titular Mass Effect was, and that wasn't a problem in terms of the gradual intro.

I think Ashley Alenko's death and Saren's escape would be a suitably low ebb if you play up Shep's relationship with her from the beginning, right from the opening bridge scene as a best friend and longtime companion even.
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