28 Weeks Later Director to enter Rapture in BIOSHOCK

     August 23, 2009

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo Bioshock image.jpg

Unlike “Halo”, it seems “Bioshock” may get its movie before the actual rapture. Universal is in talks with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to direct the big screen adaptation of the videogame franchise. With two sequels in development, “Bioshock” was hailed by many publications as 2007s Game of the Year with sales approaching 4 million units (a kingly sum in the game world) one of the biggest emerging videogame franchises of the last five years. Fresnadillo, a Spanish director best known for “28 Weeks Later” here in the states, will take over for Gore Verbinski, who is still a producer on the project. More about the troubled production after the jump.

Bioshock video game image (1).jpgAccording to Variety, Gore Verbinski, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” helmer who was once tied to direct “Bioshock”, got cold feet in June when Universal decided to film the movie overseas to take advantage of tax credits and lower the ballooning budget, reportedly as high as $160 million. Verbinski was unable commit to shoot overseas because of his animated film with Paramount, “Rango”. It looked like the project might stall. Luckily, Take-Two Interactive, the game publisher for “Bioshock”, learned from the mess that “Halo” turned into, and inked a better contract with Universal to help its money-making franchise plow through problems like these. Universal remains committed to the project. Pending approval from Take-Two, Fresnadillo will direct, budget issues will be dealt with, and pre-production will resume for “Bioshock”.

Fresnadillo’s “28 Weeks Later” is not as good as its predecessor, but is a much more competent sequel than I thought it would be. Fresnadillo shows a knack for tackling a very large film, from a cinematic perspective. In “28 Weeks Later”, we saw the aftermath of the zombie-apocalypse and how a society might deal with and re-enter a city as large as England after all its zombie residents die off.

Bioshock video game image.jpgJohn Logan penned the script for the “Bioshock” film. He’s written a number of great scripts, including “Gladiator”, “The Last Samurai”, “Sweeney Todd”, and “Star Trek: Nemesis”. And yes, “Star Trek: Nemesis” had a great script. I’m convinced it was the director, Stuart Baird, who disappointed us. He is more than capable of delivering a great script for “Bioshock.”

“Bioshock” could make for a truly incredible movie. Set in 1960, the videogame tells the story of a man who crash lands in the ocean to discover a passage to a giant undersea city named Rapture. A very rich businessman, Andrew Ryan, built Rapture as a home for the best and brightest, free of the political, religious, economic, and oppressive world he saw on land. Unfortunately, you learn it’s not much of a utopia anymore and its residents have kind of gone nuts, to say the least. Word to the next businessman thinking of starting a utopia: never tamper with genetic engineering if you want to create a perfect society.

The first-person adventure is one of the most gorgeous and atmospheric titles I’ve ever played and definitely deserved the awards it received. Most of all, its story proved to many skeptics that video games can have intelligent, moving narrative capable of competing with film, theater, and books. My only fear is that Universal won’t be able to match the source material. With the wrong director or vision, Rapture could end up looking fake, like the hive facility in 2002s “Resident Evil”. Strong art direction is key to this franchise working on film. I havent seen Juan Carlos Fresnadillos Spanish films, but he was nominated for an Oscar in 1996 for his short film “Esposados”. Let’s hope he’s up to the task. We don’t need another bad videogame movie.

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