Word on the street is a Mass Effect movie is happening. Avi Arad is set to produce and there's been talk of getting a hotshot screen writer. So far, so good. But then Bioware dropped a bombshell that caused me to lose almost all hope; they started hinting at casting choices for Commander Sheppard. While the obvious choice may be to do a direct adaptation of the excellent story in the first game, it's also the worst choice.
While the overall story arc may be the same for everyone (become a Specter and stop Saren from bringing the Reapers back to the galaxy), it's the devilish and branching details that make it a special experience. Everyone who played the game has their own Shepard(s). Trying to put a cannon version on the big screen would upset the core audience but also be too dense for a casual cineplex audience.
There is, however, a great solution if the producers would just have the balls to go for it. Allow me to geek out and explain it in detail.
Bioware has become adept in recent years at spreading their stories across multiple media. Besides the main Mass Effect games, there's the iPhone game, comics, and a trilogy of... decent novels penned by the games' head writer. Those novels hold the key, especially the first one.
That first book, Revelation, follows a young Lieutenant Anderson, who would grow up to be the Keith David-voiced Captain Anderson in the game series. This is only a few years after humans have discovered the Prothean technology that lets them travel beyond the solar system. In fact, humans have yet to encounter any other intelligent life in the galaxy.
That all changes when a human ship accidentally enters Turain space. And start a first contact war. Strangely enough, the book skips ahead at this point, only glossing over the events of the war and moving on to tell a different tale. Why would they do this? Because it's the perfect plot for a movie.
Think about it. This would be an interesting story for fans of the game series but more importantly would be a much more accessible story for a core audience. The protagonists would be meeting all these weird aliens and learning about Citadel politics right along with the audience. There would be some great first act excuses for big space battles with lots of explosions. Follow an original character stationed on a battleship.
At some point (as mentioned in the novel) the Council steps in to mediate peace talks. Have that main character get assigned to a security detail protecting an ambassador on the Citadel. Throw in some crazy plot twist about an assassination attempt on the council or something and have the human save the day, showing the Council humans are worthy of place at the galactic table.
It's a self contained story that could stand on its own for a casual viewer yet fill in a huge chunk of the mythos for the hardcore fans. Doing a straight adaptation of the games is the worst of all worlds. It will alienate fans of the game while likely being far too confusing for the masses with its dense back story. But the Turian/Human war could be the first great video game movie.
Bioware has already showed they know how to do complimentary cross-media content. Those novels and comics aren't rehashes of the game's plot. Why shouldn't a major motion picture, the crown jewel in any media franchise, get the same attention and respect? What do you guys think?