This week in adaptation news saw the Captain Planet and the Planeteers live-action movie get a boost by landing at Sony, the 1990 cult film Jacob’s Ladder is getting a remake and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx will reteam for an adaptation of S. Craig Zahler’s crime novel, Mean Business on North Ganson Street. Books, films and TV shows continue to be a rich source of material to mine for adaptations and video games are gaining some ground. Today, we’ll tackle a game franchise that’s been around since 2009 and is set to release its third installment on the PlayStation 4, but has yet to see a movie adaptation. Hit the jump for more. Hollywood! Adapt this: inFamous.
The central character in the story is Cole McGrath, a bike messenger in Empire City who wakes up at the center of a vast explosion and discovers that he has strange electrical powers. Having gained these abilities thanks to a device known as the Ray Sphere – an explosive weapon that harvests the energy of everyone it kills in its blast radius and confers it onto one individual – Cole then attempts to track down Kessler, the mastermind behind the explosion.
Along the way, the player’s decision to help others or help themselves will result in a swing of a moral compass either to heroic or infamous status. This karmic scale influences Cole’s powers and the way that the citizens of Empire City react to him. Become a hero and you’ll find the cops and civilians attempting to assist you in battle; become infamous and those same city folk will turn on you. Whatever way you decide to play, the final battle in the game results in quite the shocking revelation which I won’t spoil here.
inFamous has a pretty straightforward plot with a fun central character in Cole – lots of Parkour, lightning blasts and explosions – plus a lot of crazy, colorful bad guys to be found throughout the game. It’s not exactly deep as it’s essentially just one guy’s journey of recovering his memories and seeking vengeance against a dangerous terrorist. The thing that makes inFamous interesting for a live-action adaptation is the karma scale aspect, which is tough to incorporate into a conventional, locked-in feature but could be interesting if handled in an interactive way.
Just a week or so ago, news came out that Fox would be developing an adaptation of Choose Your Own Adventure books. inFamous is set up in a similar way in which the player’s actions determine the outcome of the game. Why not bring that interactive experience to a movie? It would certainly be a hassle on the production side of the movie, since it’s conceivable that they’d have to shoot essentially twice the number of scenes to accommodate all the possible outcomes. I’d see an interactive inFamous as something custom-made for the web, either as a series or a standalone feature. Imagine watching along on YouTube as Cole comes up to his first major decision point and you’re presented with two options; clicking one takes you to another link that allows Cole’s journey to continue. Could be a fun project for an indie web-series maker, at least until a big studio gets their hands on it and either makes it into a successful franchise or tanks it like video game adaptations that have come and gone.
Whether it will ever get turned into a movie or not probably depends on the success of the upcoming Ubisoft adaptations. Either way, inFamous is likely here to stay as it’s poised to make the jump onto Sony’s new hardware. It’s a fun action-adventure experience that could easily make the jump to the big screen with the right adaptation, and could find an audience on the web with an interactive experience built in. Honestly, I’m surprised that video game adaptations are taking so long to get a successful Hollywood treatment, especially considering that new games look more and more like movies themselves. Fingers crossed for the success of Assassin’s Creed and more going forward!
Be sure to tune in to “Hollywood! Adapt This” next weekend when we revisit a 1970s TV show that featured the day-to-day exploits of paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto, and the emergency personnel at Rampart Hospital.