Pitch It Monday: Bioshock Needs the Film Treatment

Photo: 2K Games
Photo: 2K Games

There’s something about it that makes your skin crawl and your senses and imagination run wild. A dystopian society under the sea, ran by the Russian atheist Andrew Ryan, Rapture is a shining city under the sea until scientific discovery and conflicting ideals throw the city into turmoil and civil war. It’s the original dystopian horror video game with twists and turns and legions of fans. The story itself is an allusion to Ann Rand’s classic novel Atlas Shrugged. There is also a character in the game named Atlas who guides you through the crumbling art deco city.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s offically Monday and it’s the start of our new weekly ‘4 Your Consideration’ column. I call it ‘Pitch It Monday’. Today, I’m going to attempt to coherently tell you why I think Bioshock would be a great movie. Why is it a good idea, you ask? Hollywood is in a bit of a rut. They’re churning out more remakes these days than I have ever cared to stomach and while some look good, some are horribly horrible. I know Bioshock isn’t an original concept, however I don’t think we’ve ever seen quite anything like it on the big screen. Sure, there is a highly successful film franchise tied to Resident Evil but that deals with aliens and zombies (I think). Bioshock is more of a morality tale, one I think will resonate with viewers today.

Now, I understand that marketing such a film would be difficult. Bioshock has been played by the masses of teen and adult fanboys so how could that translate to the screen without losing the gore and violence? It really can’t, which is why we have yet to see the film on screen. Studios are notorious for being apprehensive about violent video game based movies. They’re basically unmarketable, which is unfortunate considering Bioshock would make a wonderful movie.

The video game is an extremely visceral experience. It features an art deco city, pulled straight from an old time magazine page, peppered with neon signs and bright posters from days past. Perhaps it’s the old soul in me that enjoys the vintage tonality of the game or perhaps it’s the shades of steam and diesel punk that are also scattered through out the many levels of Rapture. There is also the subject of the killer soundtrack which features Bobby Darin, Putney Standridge, and plenty of swing and doo-wop fixtures of the era. Can you tell I’m a big, vintage gal?

Anyway, I digress. Another big reason I think Bioshock, despite its violence and gore, would make a good film is simply its plot. This is a society that was made without the fear of the government sensor, in a time when advances in technology were monitored with stiff rules and ethics. Sound familiar? We are on the cusp of tons of medical advances, scientific discoveries, and things that were once beyond our reach like a cure for cancer and stem cell research. In the game world, scientist Brigid Tennenbaum makes a discovery that changes the atmosphere and the morality of the city. It’s called ADAM and it’s extracted from sea slugs and when it’s injected into your body you can have tremendous power. Power corrupts but so does unethical advances of science which we as a people can relate to. (Granted, we still can’t control things with our minds or shoot bolts of electricity from our hands.)

Rapture also has an extremely interesting cast of characters. From the aforementioned Tennenbaum, who was referred to as “das wunderkind” by the Germans in WWII, to J.S. Steinman, an ADAM addicted plastic surgeon who hallucinates the goddess Aphrodite, there is absolutely no shortage of interesting, impactful characters in this world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been intrigued by Andrew Ryan’s ideals and propaganda speeches, not to mention his charm and charisma is enough to make anyone follow him to the depths of the ocean. Don’t even get me started on Sander Cohen or Sophia Lamb, one of which is an ardent Ryan supporter and the other is a seeming harmless psychologist who threatens everything Ryan stands for. It’s all so magnificent and intricately weaved through cut scenes and radio diaries and just sheer video game genius. Everything in this world is so morally ambiguous, that you have no idea who to trust, who not to trust, and where you stand. There is a lot of gray in the world of Rapture which is plenty to keep the viewers guessing.

Now, I could continue to ramble and tell you about the haunting Gary Schyman composed score and how it sends chills up my spine even when I’m listening to it in the car. I could tell you how awesome the special effects would be and how it would be a make-up artist’s dream with all the boils and sores and general gross-ness of the splicers in vivid 1080p HD, all up close and in your face, but I won’t because this column would end up being thirty pages long.

For now, I’ll simply let you decide. What do you think, 4YEers? Would Bioshock be a good idea for a film adaptation? Or would it be too hard for Universal (who’ve secured the film rights) to find the right niche for a rated R video game movie? I personally would pay big money to watch Andrew Ryan’s splicers beat the crap out of Jack as well as seeing the soulless little sisters being followed around by monstrous Big Daddies. It would be brilliant.

Anyway, sound off below with your thoughts and join me next week as I pitch another idea at you lovely viewers that comes straight from the history books. I’ll give you a hint. Next Monday is April 14. Until then I leave you with what could’ve been: concept art that should’ve been reality.

Shelby Arnold
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