There ain't no rest for the wicked, as the Cage the Elephant song synonymous with the popular sci-fi video game Borderlands goes. And it seems like there's no rest for the Borderlands franchise either: Varietyreports it's marching toward the silver screen care of Lionsgate and father-and-son production team Avi and Ari Arad.
Borderlands launched in 2009, combining role-playing and first-person shooter elements into an engaging, bullet-riddled adventure that fans have eaten up. Developer Gearbox Studios and publisher Take-Two Interactive Software have shipped over 26 million copies of the game since its release, and it's spawned several sequels as well. But can its "wackiness" and thin narrative support an entire film?
Lionsgate has been quick to assure fans that the "same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise" will be present in the movie, but that isn't going to be enough to keep the entire project afloat. What will be? Here's everything that needs to happen to ensure Borderlands as a film remains a decent prospect for moviegoers and fans of the video game franchise itself.
Daring and different producers
Too many video game to film adaptations have disappointed because their production teams utterly failed to grasp what made them palatable in the first place. Uwe Boll's abysmal Postal film couldn't even salvage the fun parts of the balls-to-the-wall shooter. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li was a smorgasbord of terrible laced with some of the most cringeworthy bits of dialogue Chris Klein has ever uttered in his mortal life. Let's not forget the Resident Evil movies either, which cobbled elements from the survival horror franchise to create a monster that, for some reason, moviegoers continue to pay to take in.
Given that Borderlands is already a silly and over-the-top production, it needs to maintain that type of attitude to flourish. In addition, fine line between pandering and acceptable nods to the source material needs to be respected.
Avi and Ari Arad of Arad Productions are responsible for Elektra and Fantastic Four, as well as a host of other formulaic superhero movies. Though Avi Arad has had luck with movies like Iron Man, Spider-Man, and other hits here and there, his his game-to-film track record isn't exactly stunning. Son Ari Arad is cited as producer on other important video game film adaptations like Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid, but we're equally concerned about the fates of those in general.
Perhaps a team who isn't as focused on superhero films should take the helm to avoid the typical blandness trap so many properties end up falling victim to.
A believably Borderlands script and premise
Borderlands doesn't exactly have a challenging narrative to begin with, so adapting it for the screen should be a cakewalk. The universe already lends itself well to tie-ins such as Telltale Games' Tales From The Borderlands and novelizations of the games themselves. With that said, the movie project needs to come paired with a script that could have been ripped straight from one of the games.
The dialogue needs to remain just as biting, and the pop culture references just as plentiful. The character archetypes should channel the powerful Sirens, the tank-like Soldiers, and the rest of the classes available for players. We don't need new stand-in characters cut from the same cloth as the cast from the first two games, i.e. the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. effect., or every other television spin-off series ever.
Borderlands, at its heart, has always been about looting and finding treasure, making a better life for the inhabitants of the planet Pandora, and wiping out the scum who care not for colonists who are simply trying to get by. The script should be an extension of the game, not a parody of it, and not a science fiction romp that completely disregards the wackiness of the game. We don't need another one of those. Not right now.
Actors who fit the bill
There's a special charm to the stars of Borderlands, and upcoming Hollywood stars aren't always the best fit. It's usually a knee-jerk casting decision to involve the latest and supposedly greatest for these sorts of roles, but for characters like the powerful Lilith or gruff marksman Mordecai, we need actors who've proven themselves time and time again.
There's no reason to leave the actors who brought the game to life out of the equation, either. For instance, Dameon Clarke already lent his face and voice to series villain Handsome Jack, so why not cast him in the film as well? In the end, the actors will be the backbone of the flick, so casting is absolutely crucial.
What do you think the Borderlands movie needs to be successful? Golden keys? A bajillion more guns? Hopefully we'll have more to go on in the coming days.