11 May 2010

Neuromancer, the Film

I was briefly excited when, a couple of years ago, I heard that William Gibson's Neuromancer was going to get a film treatment. Like the Lord of the Rings, Neuromancer is a seminal work of its genre. The people who are fans of the book and, by extension, William Gibson (its author), are very particular. The movie, if it ever gets made, will need to be done properly. Even if it's made, and made well, not everyone will be pleased. A director's (or writer's) vision is subjective.

Then I learned who was set to direct: Joseph Kahn. Not being familiar with his name or his work, I set to finding out just what this guy had directed, and what made him special enough to direct a film based on one of my favorite books. What I found out dismayed me. At that time (and currently, it seems), he's done very little outside of music videos and automobile commercials. His single feature film credit is Torque, a (in my opinion) truly awful movie that tries to be The Fast and the Furious on motorcycles.

I'd caught Torque on cable TV one night, a long time ago. At the time, I felt like I was watching a train wreck. The movie was so horribly bad that I couldn't peel my eyes away. I couldn't believe that something that terrible, that preposterous, that ludicrous, had actually gotten any kind of funding at all. Period. End of story.

Flash forward to me learning that the freshman director who had thrown Torque together was the same man who had been entrusted with making Neuromancer into a feature film. If I'd been reading a book on such a topic, I'd've thrown it across the room in disgust.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Mr. Kahn is a wonderful guy. Really. But the single movie he's made, which I had accidentally watched one lazy evening, gave me very little confidence in his ability to lift Gibson's vision from the pages of Neuromancer and apply it to the big screen. This wasn't a Britney Spears video, after all, or a derivative motorcycle action flick.

There wasn't much news about the movie after that. Rumors circulated that Hayden Christensen had been slated to take on the role of Case, the novel's "hero." I wasn't real thrilled with that choice, either, given Hayden's performance in the Star Wars prequels. Then again, I've heard from other sources that he can actually act, so long as George Lucas isn't directing him. So any misgivings I had about the choice of actors was mitigated somewhat.

From the looks of things, the Neuromancer film has been in development limbo for a long time. I learned just yesterday that Kahn is no longer directing. Instead, Vincenzo Natali has been chosen to replace him. This comes as a relief to me. Although I'm not familiar with all of Natali's works, I am definitely familiar with Cube, which he wrote and directed. Cube wasn't a high-budget film, but it was quirky and enjoyable, so I'm hopeful that Neuromancer, if it gets off the ground, will be somewhat better than it might have been under Kahn.

There is a god, it seems.


Alan said...

Promise me that if you write the defining novel of a new genre, that when you start talking to people about film rights that you will:

1. Retain the final right of refusal over the script.

2. Have a voice in the director chosen.

3. Same with the actors.

I guess that would mean that you would be a producer, eh? :>

T.S. said...

Hi Gary,

I'm playing catch up with friends I haven't talked to in awhile. HOLY SHIT - what happened to your life while I was away!?! Um, I guess in rapid Twitter styling:

"Ouch. Sorry dude. You are so talented, though, I'm certain that you will find something."

"These things take awhile. Took me like, 5 months."

"Interview? Sweet."

"Holy crap! Congratulations! Sounds like an awesome new gig. Tell me more when you can."

"Yeah, housing is always a pisser."

There's also some sympathy for Merlin in there and what not.

So these days I'm working for a company that makes high end robots, which is fairly cool. I've been working on the Dragon Age stuff for GR on the gaming front. Drop me a line, tell me how the new gig is working out!


p.s. Are you going to be at GenCon this year?

p.p.s. I had to go this route because no less than 3 email addresses I had for you all failed.

Dave Herber said...

No, if therewas a God then he would make sure it was directed by someone who could actually do the film justice like Ridley Scott or even John Woo.

Then again looking at what was done to New Rose Hotel and Johnny Mnemonic, we might get a clean sweep of three strikes. If Keanu has anything to do with the film, you can shoot me now.