Jan 27 2008, 11:40 PM
Please, I dearly hope this doesn't all go horribly wrong.
In Neuromancer, the main character Case has killed people in dirty meaningless fights, he’s a self-destructive drug addict, running himself into the ground, barely eating, and trying to convince the city streets to open up and swallow him in a dark alley one night. This character is a vortex of self-loathing, and I just don’t see many actors who would want to try and do that in a science-fiction film. I’ve spent fifteen years getting to know the character and seven years writing about it, so in this regard I feel that I know Case pretty well.
Does that character description fit with Hayden Christensen in your head? He’s most famous for playing Anakin Skywalker (who became Darth Vader) in the second and third of the Star Wars series. In fairness to Christensen, in the Star Wars films he (allegedly) went to Lucas and said ‘Are you sure you want Anakin to be this whiny?’ and Lucas said ‘No, make him more whiny!’. With direction like that the it’s hard to do much. While Christensen may yet display previously unseen depths of acting and character in his performance as Case, he’s not yet shown that he is capable of portraying the complexity of the part. I really hope he surprises us, and I’ll be the first to stand applauding if he does.
Christensen might be able to pull it off with good direction, but the director attached to the project, Joseph Kahn, doesn’t give me a lot of hope on that one. He’s best known for the very dumb action film Torque (currently rated at 3.4 out of 10, barely skimming out of the worst rated 100 films on IMDB) and the Britney Spears video for the song ‘Toxic’. The story of Neuromancer is fairly complex, with multiple antagonists with differing agendas, which is partly why this film hasn’t ever happened yet despite 20 years of people trying to make it. I’m very concerned that they are going to strip it back to a pile of meaningless action sequences.
If they made this film feel like a drunk hurriedly stumbling home through the bad area of town, people hurrying past and predatory eyes watching the progress from shadows, then it would feel right. It’s more likely to feel like a glossy jet-bike ride, and that’s going to be a huge betrayal of the book. Christensen’s casting feels like the jet-bike version of the story, and that’s why the people who want this film to be good are so worried about him.
Neuromancer is one of the classic novels of the late twentieth century, it made the word 'cyberspace' famous by pretty much inventing the idea of virtual reality. It was written by William Gibson and is credited with influencing vast amounts of modern culture, from direct effects on science fiction all the way through to how early developers of the internet thought about the future. I wrote my PhD about William Gibson, which is why I'm so interested in this.
So, who do you think would be good for the part? Johnny Depp is too old, so is Edward Norton. Christian Bale is too pretty. Someone like Ewan McGregor possibly could do it, if he went back to his junkie look from Trainspotting.
Also, who should be the killer bodyguard Molly? That one could be played with a bit more because her character isn't quite so difficult. A typically pretty-girl actress could be really entertaining playing a vicious killer. I'd really want her to have a decent number of scars, and the mirrorshades permanently (literally) attached to her head really kill the possibility for her being conventionally good looking, so it would be a lot of fun to have someone cool and then cover their best assets. Angelina Jolie is possibly to old now, but I think someone completely tangential like Claire Danes could be really interesting.
Jan 28 2008, 06:49 AM
I could see Heath Ledger pulling off a decent Case, if he wasn't dead.
Christensen I could actually picture as Case (Revenge of the Sith look, not that soppy clone wars look), but whether he's a talented enough actor to pull it off is another question. It's hard to say because i've only ever seen him in the Star Wars films.
Jan 28 2008, 11:03 AM
I am a bad man. My first thought when reading that was 'Heath Ledger will probably look more the part now'. I shall go and sit in the naughty corner and think about what I've done.
Jan 28 2008, 12:04 PM
Christian Bale could definitely look the part--he could go all "Machinist" and show up on set like 'hey guys, I weigh six pounds'. Shame he's such a terrible actor. I think Christiensen would be alright, but the trouble with making a movie out of Neuromancer is that you're making a movie out of Neuromancer. That's the main sticking point, really.
Jan 28 2008, 06:48 PM
It was always going to be a challenge, but with that star and that director? (Not to mention the inexperienced producer) It looks like it might turn into a disaster movie. I really hope they do it right!
Jan 29 2008, 12:07 AM
How old is Case? It's been a long time since I read Neuromancer.
Whatever you think about Christian Bale's acting, you can't deny his commitment to it. Lost a third of his body weight for The Machinist then bulked up for Batman Begins, and now he's just gone through all that again for Rescue Dawn and The Dark Knight (RIP Heath Ledger).
Jan 29 2008, 02:22 AM
Case is twenty-four, if my memory serves me. Bale can do many things to his body, but I don't think he can look the right age any more. Then again, acting ability is more important than temporal accuracy I guess, so maybe he would be okay. I've rather enjoyed Christian Bale's films. Even though I can't say I enjoyed his cockney accent in The Prestige (he really should have known better) it still didn't spoil the film.
Not that we'll get to test this theory by the look of things, but it's fun to speculate!
Okay, any ideas for Molly, the razor girl?
Feb 15 2008, 03:22 PM
I've just read a review of Jumper, starring Christensen. Apparently the film goes downhill as soon as he gets in it. This is going to be a car crash, isn't it?
Feb 15 2008, 05:48 PM
Probably. Jumper totally sold out on Valentine's Day, but I don't know what anyone thought of it. I know a few people who are seeing it today, but I probably won't get to see it until Tuesday at the earliest.
Feb 17 2008, 11:29 PM
Just seen Jumper, Hayden has the least interesting of voices. The Matrix is already a good enough film adaptation of Neuromancer anyway. This one will suck hard.
Feb 18 2008, 01:50 AM
Except that The Matrix is ultimately a story about salvation and Neuromancer is about nihilism...
Oh gods... I just thought. What if they gave the story a happy ending? Ack!
I'm still not sure this one's ever going to get made!
Apr 19 2009, 12:04 AM
So someone just said summit that reminded me of this book. So like, I'm all looking it up and come across it being made into a game in '88. Linky
Just putting it out there, Spuss *runs from the anti necro posting mob*
Apr 19 2009, 03:52 PM
I've never got around to tracking down the game, but I'm sure there are emulated copies around. It had a different character and plot, so could be interesting to have a look at some day.
IMDB are trying to get more people to give them money so have started hiding the details of 'in development' films from non-paying visitors. Boo! I want to know how badly the casting is going! The film is now listed for 2011, so everything is still a long way off yet. At the moment, I'd be very surprised if it got made with this director, but you never can tell with movies.
Apr 20 2009, 05:37 PM
You need someone with a bit of bitchin their smile- Like Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the vampire. If she could bring back the evil in that she would be good. Eliza Dushku might be good too. And she'd still look hot even with the mirror shades attached!
Apr 23 2009, 11:17 AM
Would it be too trite to suggest Jason Statham
as a candidate? He's played enough hard cases in the past, I reckon he could pull it off. Or are we going to have to have an American in the role?
For Molly, I think Carrie-Anne Moss
could fit the bill. She wore shades in all the Matrix films and she looked the part. Or does she need to be better looking? How about Carice van Houten
? She was pretty good in "Zwartboek" as a resistance agent, and she is very easy on the eye too.
But if we're going all jet-bike then perhaps we'll end up with Zac Effron and Miley Cyrus
Apr 23 2009, 12:58 PM
Bleh, no Carrie-Anne Moss.
Jason Statham, or 'The Stathe' as he's known in our house, could be good as Armitage but he's too old and craggy looking for Case. I see him as a dishevelled pretty boy... The guy from Twilight could probably do the job.
I'd never heard of Carice van Houten before, but she looks the part.
I'm not sure about Eliza Dushku... She's got the attitude, but she's not got much of an acting range.
Apr 24 2009, 08:21 AM
Heh heh heh... the Stathe!
So it's a dishevelled pretty boy you're after is it? How about Richard Armitage
? He's got quite a rich, dark voice (think Sean Bean's voice, but not as gruff) which he can use to be very smooth or quite menacing, and the ladies do seem to like him. He's been more of a TV person up till now, so there's likely to be little typecasting to get in the way.
May 21 2009, 11:37 PM
Case's got the getting strung out, always on edge sort of crazy going on; Statham's a much more put together, calm (er, in his own way) but psychotic on the inside type. Him as Armitage would be interesting.
Who's the pick for Dixie?
Even if Christensen is Case, the fact that this is even a possibility makes me really happy. Even though this undoubtedly won't live up to the book, I'm sure it'll still be lots of fun (like Choke this past year)
Jun 7 2009, 02:11 PM
I know this is a crazy world but it might be worth a shot.
Would it be possible to get in contact with them and tell them what they should do. Not like anyone else who is drunk at 2am ranting in a blogpost, but more formally. Citing your position with a Doctorate on the very subject and giving them a prod in the right direction?
The more I think about it, the more certain I am that this is a good idea. I will enjoy this moment before it gets shot down.
Jun 28 2009, 08:50 AM
Tim Roth's probably in the "too old now" bracket, right?
I despair of decent sci-fi adaptations, tbh. The other day, I was reading a book of popular philosophy, and it just wasn't grabbing me - all surface-level, nothing really interesting to wrestle with. So I put it to one side and picked up Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and within two pages it had blown my tiny mind all over again. It's an amazing book, with more fascinating ideas packed into it than most books three times its length, a haunting exploration of what it means to be human - and what do we get on the big screen? An action movie where Harrison Ford shoots things. A very good action movie, don't get me wrong, probably Scott's finest - but still, just an action movie. What do you reckon are the chances for any kind of decent Gibson adaptation, Mata?
Jul 1 2009, 01:02 PM
Pretty slim, but if we get anything 75% as good as Blade Runner then I'll be quite happy. We did get 'Dark Angel', the TV series that was ripped almost completely from Virtual Light. The first series of that was quite fun, so it shows that they can work on screen if taken with a pinch of salt. Of course there were the Matrix films.
I think there are basic pacing problems with his stories in terms of movie adaptation. They sprint between character viewpoints and sequences too fast for a faithful adaptation. It would work if someone really focussed on Case, but the razor girl is such an appealing character that Case gets lost too easily.
Jul 1 2009, 01:26 PM
It occurs to me that if they go into said razor girl's background, it'll just make everyone think of Dollhouse...
Jul 2 2009, 12:58 PM
Dollhouse certainly made me think of Molly, so I guess that's only natural. I'm pleased that someone else noticed this too, because I'm a bit hyper-sensitive to Gibson rip offs. I think Sues is bored of my saying 'Oh, that's just like an idea from Mona Lisa Overdrive', and suchlike.
Oct 5 2009, 07:03 AM
Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents, Neuromancer was one of those books that flipped my proverbial lid and I recently re-read Mona Lisa Overdrive because I didn't think I had read it (I had).
I think its kinda weird that no one's mentioned the film adaptation of Johnny Mnemonic yet, especially since a) its a prequel to Neuromancer and
Molly is actually in it (under a different name, Jane I believe). It never ceases to amuse me that Reanu Keaves was cast as Johnny in this, and then later as Neo in the Matrix, where he plays a sort of dumbed-down, on-tranquilisers version of Johnny (although that may just be a symptom of Keaves' acting in general). Although she may be a bit old now, I reckon Dina Meyer played a pretty decent young Molly in that. Give her a thousand-yard-stare, cover it with mirror-shade implants and make her the cynic of the century and you've got someone pretty close to where Molly would be in Neuromancer.
But no Reanu Keaves please, thanks.
Hmm, I hate to say it, but Ali Larter could probably pull off quite a good Molly. She's got the mean streak and the physique for it at least.
Had a bit of a browse through actors in the right age group for Case, came up with Seth Green as a possible. Thoughts?
Oct 6 2009, 12:22 PM
Both are very good choices. Seth Green is an interesting one - he could definitely do the beatn-up slacker look, and has a suitably unimposing frame, but I've not seen him do much serious acting. Hm... If only the movie makers would listen to their fans.
It looks like Hayden Christensen is off the cards, thankfully, but Joseph Kahn posted a very good response to the criticism in his blog (this is long):
Variety blew my cover over the weekend. This is the screenplay I've been working on for the last two years.
As to the backlash.
There's going to be a backlash. You have to be nuts or stupid to take on a monster like this. I knew what I was getting myself into. Stanley Kubrick could take this on and he'd have a 14 year old in Iowa blogging on how wack the cgi effects were in 2001, and then on the otherhand a 45 year old child molestor completely insistant nothing will ever look as good as the visuals in his own head.
And they'd both hate Torque.
I could see how the combination of the Britney Spears director with William Gibson is a controversial choice. But the problem is, the summation of my career is not Britney Spears. I've done plenty of "cred" videos: Moby, Chemical Brothers, Korn, U2, Muse to name a few. The headlines sound attractively pessimistic to slap the successful pop example of my work to a supposedly nihilistic work like Neuromancer. It really just demonstrates how little most people know of the music video world and how it pertains to filmmaking.
For instance, before David Fincher became the dark auteur that fanboys salivate over, he made his name doing…Paula Abdul videos. And hard core Michael Bay with his rumbling guns and explosions made…Meatloaf videos, as well as…The Divinyls "I Touch Myself." Those of you in the music video business know the score and understand why this is.
I guess this is turning into a defense of myself, so I will defend myself.
The other complaint lodged at me is that my movie Torque basically sucked. It's either a sell out piece of commercial crap, or an incompetant long form music video, or both, and it's a sure sign I'm clueless as a filmmaker. And to all of this, I'll say: they're wrong.
Making your first movie under the Hollywood studio system is hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm telling you honestly with no exaggeration: you have no clue what it's like to be put through that studio grinder and retain any sort of authorship. The politics, the pressure, the scapegoating, the interference, the pure physicality of an intense 70 day shoot, the budget hysterics, the permeating sense of fear and negativity from everyone. Torque is not 100% of what I wanted, but I'm proud of what it is, because at the end of the day, after going through this studio machine that blends movies together into mediocrity, it split people. Some hated it, others loved it. Some actually had both reactions at the same time. Whatever it was, it wasn't safe. The ice cream on the cone couldn't be digested without a strong opinion. That's a tall order for an Ice Cube biker flick. Your welcome.
So that's one of the reasons why "they" hired me to do Neuromancer, and make no mistake, Gibson is one of "them." There's no way in hell I'm on this without atleast a half disinegnous grunt of approval from him. Yes, Chris Cunningham was attached to this years ago and you may think him as a far cooler director than me, but he quit. HE QUIT. Understand? Sorry. He abandoned the baby on the doorstep, and it will never come to daddy again.
I'm on it because I am nuts, and I am stupid, and I will throw everything I have at making a book that's been ripped off left and right and considered impossible to adapt…work. I've spent my whole life making things. People who don't know me seem to dismiss me as some cliché blinged out music video director, and even if that jealous perception were true then remember this - I started with nothing. No contacts in Hollywood, no money, nothing. All I've ever had to survive is the dedication to my craft. All I know how to do is make things, and if Neuromancer is on my plate, I am going to make it. That's why this film finally has a chance at getting made.
Now here we are and all I know is this: the movie in my head rocks. I've already watched it, I just need to execute. Is it Gibson's vision? Not quite. There's no way this film can ever achieve what Gibson did. He practically changed the world and how we imagined ourselves growing up into it. The novel is always going to be the superior work of art. The book's a legitimate work of genius in a millenial way, not the Richard Roeper thumbs up way. I'm working on a two hour movie, so it's my distillation of his vision into a much shorter form. Compomises and interpretation will be required, and the personal issues I chose to focus on will be the things that turn me on about the book. So at the end of the day, there's wiggle room: the good *beep* is his, the bad *beep* is mine.
But when it gets made, maybe on some level, everyone will be ecstatic to see some version of it moving on a movie screen, like when a parent is happy to see their toddler draw a crayon of the sun. If I'm lucky, maybe even Gibson himself will dig it.
So there it is.
I only have one more thing to say.
When Variety broke the story, this is how they described me:
Joseph Kahn, a Korean-American commercials director who made "Torque" for Warren Bros., has inked to direct.
What the *beep* does my race have to do with directing Neuromancer?
Having read that, I feel a bit more comfortable about things. It's not put my mind to rest, but he does seem to have an understanding of how big a deal this film will be to many people, and that's got to be a good thing.
Oct 6 2009, 01:51 PM
Unfortunately, whatever it turns out like, it won't have Henry Rollins' best line ever :
Dolph Lundgren's Preacher: "Where are they!?"
Henry Rollins: "They're with the people who're f**ing your mom!!!" (rage!)
Oct 8 2009, 12:51 PM
They could probably have that as an easter egg on the DVD, or maybe after the credits.
I quite like Johnny Mnemonic, personally. It's not really Gibson, but it's still quite fun. Also, although it's Molly in the short story, that's not actually supposed to be Molly in the film - another company owned the rights to Neuromancer (and henve all of the characters in it) at the time so the makers of Johnny Mnemonic couldn't use the same character in their film. She's just a random lady character who doesn't have razor blades under her nails.
Oct 8 2009, 04:36 PM
Well that's my new fact for the day, then (aside from the directX coding lecture, ofc). I just thought it was another of her personas and she hadn't had the razors fitted yet. Haven't read Burning Chrome yet, so I still don't know how much of the film was made up. I totally agree, though, its a great little movie in its own right, as long as you don't take it too seriously.
Oct 9 2009, 07:29 AM
In regards to how close it is to the original story: not at all. The basic set-up is the same, but after that it all goes a bit bonkers.
Jun 8 2010, 07:35 AM
Ooo oo oo oo oo oo oo! Exciting news! The director of The Cube is now down to direct Neuromancer. That could work!
His name is Vincenzo Natali. He's mostly worked as a story board artist, but his directing credits have generally been quite interesting. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0622112/
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