Some thoughts on the much-mooted Bioshock film

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 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”)

Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Hubbard!: Why a “12A” rated Die Hard flick sticks in my craw.

If you haven’t heard, A Good Day to Die Hard– the fifth film in the franchise, came out yesterday worldwide and is rated a 12A in dear Old Blighty. In its originating land of freedom and burgers, the film is rated “R” and was edited (or to use more of a trigger word: “censored”) to appeal to the biggest possible audience when shipped over here. It’s important to note that our beloved BBFC didn’t censor it. Fox submitted the film and was told that it would be rated a “15”, they then subsequently asked for advice on how to trim it down to the preferred 12A rating, they submitted the new cut and got the rating they wanted. See here for full details: click.

This baffles me and pisses me off in equal measures. Look, I watched the original Die Hard way too young at about age 11 and it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. I have seen it countless times since then and it’s still a fantastic watch. The following two films are great too. I even like Die Hard 4.0, despite it taking a left turn at Credibility Avenue and driving directly into Doolally Junction. One of my major problems with 4.0 (aka the retch-inducing title of Live Free or Die Hard) was how toothless it all felt. The swearing was sparse and mild and the violence was bloodless and lacking in punch. Violence and swearing do not a good film make, but when you have an established series where these things are practically hallmarks it really goes against the grain.When a character can’t even say their famous catchphrase because it has naughty words in it, you know something’s gone wrong. (OK, pedants, he DOES say it, but the word is obscured with a gunshot, which is a whole jar of weaksauce.) There is an unrated cut of 4.0 out on DVD (not Blu-ray yet despite multiple releases, the absolute BASTARDS) where the digital blood is re-instated and McClane gets to say “motherfucker” like a champ. I was surprised at how legitimate it made the film feel. It’s not big or clever, but it feels right (which is incidentally my personal slogan for my upcoming gigolo business venture.)

Which brings me to A Good Day to Die Hard. I planned to see it opening day at the IMAX, but as soon as I heard that it was a 12A for no good reason, I cancelled my tickets. If they’re not going to meet me halfway, then fuck ’em. I’m not going to pay over the odds for a butchered, inferior product. Especially with the knowledge that there’s a meatier cut out there.Yeah, there will undoubtedly be an unrated cut on DVD/Blu-ray but that’s not the point. With all the emotional blackmail campaigns about not pirating films and actually going to the cinema running, doesn’t it seem like stunts like this are teaching consumers the exact opposite? Why waste your money on seeing a watered-down, neutered cut at the cinema when you can watch the proper version at home?

Lionsgate did this over here with The Hunger Games. The original submitted cut of the film was rated a 15 and they sought advice to bring it down to a 12A. I understand that decision though. The Hunger Games has an inbuilt teen audience thanks to the three books. Whilst Lionsgate obviously wanted to make as much dough as possible, something which the golden 12A certificate ensures, I’d like to think a big part of  that decision was the fact that they didn’t want to make a film that fans of the books weren’t old enough to see. But this is fucking DIE HARD.

The thing that really cemented my feeling on this was when I questioned whether the original Die Hard would still be a coherent and solid film if edited and trimmed down to a 12A. After much thought, I don’t think so. Sure, you could edit out that bit where the topless woman gets dragged out. You could linger less on McClane walking barefoot over broken glass etc, but at the core of it, it’s a mature, claustrophobic tale. Even if you cut out the majority of the swearing and violence, you’d still have objectionable material there because it wasn’t fucking made for kids. I really don’t think you salvage any sort of understandable narrative from it. I could be wrong on this. There probably are teen-friendly cuts of Die Hard aired on cable TV in the U.S. which is governed by the humourless FCC. Still, anyone with a brain knows that that isn’t the best way to watch a film.

Maybe I’m just getting my knickers in a twist over nothing. By all accounts, the film isn’t very good anyway and has problems far beyond what a bit of blood and a couple of fucks will fix. Still though, I really hope this isn’t a trend.