Honestly, thinking about Bioshock and things pertaining to Bioshock is taking up about 90% of my brain space at the moment. Partly because the hopefully brilliant Bioshock Infinite is out soon and partly because I’ve been replaying the two existing games in preparation for the 26th. When I first played the original game back in 2007, it blew my mind clean out of the back of my skull. When talking about it now, I compare first stepping into Rapture to seeing Star Wars for the first time. The world created was so fantastic I bought the concept of Rapture completely and yearned for more knowledge on how and why a city was built at the bottom of the sea. Games are often described as “cinematic”, but I think that’s a pretty weak comparison. You wouldn’t say a film was “book-like” because they’re completely different mediums. However, I have always thought that the world of Rapture could easily make the transition from console to screen. Creative director and Irrational Games head honcho Ken Levine recently came clean on why the in-production Bioshock film was shit-canned. Whilst I’m grateful that we didn’t get some compromised cash-in piece of crap, I’m disappointed that a silver screen trip to Rapture seems further away than ever. I was once asked what film I’d kick into production if I was just handed a hefty budget. My two answers were “Westworld remake” and “Bioshock movie”. When pushed, the ‘Shock won. So it got me thinking- how the hell would I approach a Bioshock film?
Having recently replayed it, I’m really not sure that the first game’s story would be the best place to start. Why? Well, Bioshock numero uno often used the game mechanics to tell a story. There were subtle hints at the player’s true purpose everywhere and I can’t see the game’s famed twist working quite as well when it came to adaptation. If translated faithfully, the story of “Jack” (the player avatar) would be 10 hours long and be utterly generic, because it’d be missing the crucial elements in the game that raised the bar from a story-telling perspective. You could make a film from something like Modern Warfare 3 or any of the Uncharted series pretty easily, because they’re intentionally aping blockbuster films. Bioshock would be a significantly tougher cookie.
If I had it my way, “prequel” would be the strongest curse word there is and would definitely get a kid detention at school if uttered. Having said that, I honestly think a prequel film to the first game would work. Have it be about the rise and fall of Rapture itself. There’s a huge uprising alluded to in the game’s various audio diaries that would make a fantastic finale to a film. I know there is a prequel book simply called “Rapture” out there, but I haven’t read it yet, so maybe I’m unwittingly stealing ideas from that. Whilst the first game used the medium’s mechanics to tell a tale (if I keep saying it enough, people will agree with me) you could have the film do the same with its mechanics. Y’know what film is fantastic at doing? Tragedy. I’m picturing Rapture as a city version of Charles Foster Kane, especially at the peak of its swaggering, arrogant power. Apart from the inherent flaws of Objectivism built into the city’s creation, genetic magic sludge ADAM is basically to blame for Rapture’s downfall. It basically enabled people to do anything they wanted, from giving themselves supernatural abilities like shooting electricity and fireballs to being able to completely change their appearance. Thing is, people start getting too “spliced up”, become addicts and start becoming deformed maniacs, killing anyone for a drop more of the sweet ADAM they crave. Just thinking about the slow introduction of these poisonous elements gives me a nerd boner. It’s got the potential to completely invalidate the notion that all video game films are shite.
This is all getting dangerously close to shit fanfiction so I’ll leave it there. Still though, I think it’s an interesting topic. Could a Bioshock film be done? Should it just be left as a game? Should I shut the hell up and get myself a girlfriend? You decide! (although I have a strong feeling the answer to all three will be “yes”)