'Neuromancer' Movie, 'The Matrix' and Bringing it to the Big Screen

Okay, by now we've all heard the (exciting? sobering? distressing?) news that 'Neuromancer' really, really, finally looks like it's coming to the big screen.

Here are some thoughts on the film vis-a-vis the inevitable comparisons to 'The Matrix' and how it might hope to avoid suffering badly in comparison:

Case and Molly v. Neo and Trinity
First, Case and Molly do NOT have superhuman powers like Neo and Trinity. Molly is in exactly two fights in 'Neuromancer' and gets her leg broken in the first and loses the second immediately. Case, although clearly skilled, is a rather pathetic figure and is in no way any kind of super-baaad techno-Godhead like Neo. Basically, although Neo and Trinity were clearly inspired by Case and Molly, they are a cartoon superhero variation of the originals, and therein lies the potential salvation for a cinematic 'Neuromancer'.

Any post-Matrix 'Neuromancer' film should be unsparingly realistic. Think of the look of Alfonso Cuarón's 'Children of Men'; it must make 'The Matrix' look like an overly slick cartoon in comparison. That will allow the heroes of 'Neuromancer' some slack to be heroic (they are clearly heroic in the story) while deflecting unwanted comparisons to the derivative, overdriven Neo and Trinity.

Gibson's Matrix vs. 'The Matrix'
Okay, big one here. We caught a glimpse of the matrix in the (yes, God-awful) film of 'Johnny Mnemonic', and it was actually pretty cool. I'd go with a modern version of that overdriven 3D look for the matrix in 'Neuromancer' giving it more screen-time and some up-to-the minute gloss. It should work okay. Stuff like superimposing 'The Finn' over the matrix are actually very simple and retro - evocative of 80's-era music videos. I suppose the film could play with that - even playing with giving characters hints of a retro-future 80's look (I understand that's playing with fire, though).

The Story
Using the standard "page-a-minute" benchmark, to portray the entire 288 page 'Neuromancer' on-screen would require it be roughly a five hour film. That ain't happening, of course, so a lot of stuff is going to get chopped. That's reality at least until we can make our own desktop 'Neuromancer's' on our home computers in 2045 after the Singularity. So here is what I'd suggest they cut (this is hard, but c'mon it's gotta be done):

- Ratz. Great character! Bye.
- Julius Dean. Cute but unnecessary.
- Obviously, the whole Straylight run/Armitage death run can be compressed.
- The entire Panther moderns terror attack sequence. This one really hurts, but it's a pretty huge set-piece just to steal an Atari cartridge.
- Abduction of Riviera.

Some things that MUST NOT be cut in order for it to be 'Neuromancer':

- Freeside and the Sprawl. As far as I'm concerned, Freeside and the Sprawl ARE Neuromancer. Spend the effects and production design money here. These have got to be the bustling, gargantuan, Vegas-like luxury shopping malls Gibson described or the film is a bust.
- Riviera. Face it, the character is way cool and his abilities would translate well to a modern sci-fi action film.
- Hideo and 3Jane.
- The Finn!
- Gibson's dialogue. I think most of it should work okay on-screen.

I leave the issue of Miss Linda Lee to others. She's a critical fulcrum for Case's story arch but a mainstream audience is gonna wonder why Case is cheating on Molly.

Love to hear other thoughts. Man I wish I was working on this movie! Hire me, Bill, I'm in IMDB!
 
Welcome Nightspore-

I'm excited to see this come to play also-

I never really saw it as a story of heroes- Rather a continuation- We after all first met Molly in JM- I never saw the movie but, I am always curious to see how close it came to the words of Gibson himself-

Wintermute, is the entire reason all these characters came together- It was rather a jail break for an AI that could or couldn't be good/or bad-

I suppose every movie needs it's hero's- You can't sell a movie without them-
I think I would be happy if it was ll less matrix like- I'm pretty bored with the entire make up now-
 
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I was brought here because of a post on boingboing.net regarding this blog entry by Mr. Gibson about film options for his books -- Neuromancer in particular.

I just wanted to state my preference for experiencing Mr. Gibson's work in literary form rather than cinematic form. It's what he is good at.

I apologise for jumping onto Nightspore's well-thought-out post, but this seemed like the most appropriate place to make this comment.
 
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The problem is the conflation of things like Blade Runner and the Matrix with the Sprawl Trilogy. Maybe a three year run on HBO, a different milieu with each of the books explored for a season, and then new experiences in the Sprawl for any follow-up seasons, is the better direction. Maybe it helps folks see this work as different than the other works that skirt the themes within which the Sprawl trilogy seems to locate itself.

TORQUE?
 
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The page-a-minute rule refers to the screenplay, not the book it was derived from. A screenplay is basically dialogue, with minimal stage direction, which the makers of the film pay no attention to anyway. All they want is the dialogue. They'll supply the visuals. So you break "Neuromancer" down to its dialogue exchanges. How many pages do you have now? I was taught in screenwriting class at USC that the best way to adapt a book to the screen is to first turn it into a comic book (this was before graphic novels). That's essentially what a movie is-a string of visual images held together by minimal dialogue. Before filming or even casting, a movie is storyboarded - essentially broken down scene by scene with each shot drawn by an artist comic-book style. That way the filmers have a visual reference to work from. That's how "Neuromancer" will be made, if it's made at all.
 
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Reading that blog entry reminded me about Douglas Adams talking about the endless discussions about filming the Hitchhiker: "the movie should be made any decade now". He said something like, it's like watching a succession of people coming into a room and trying to cook a steak by breathing on it.

This was in The Salmon of Doubt, which I've lent to a friend. There's a hilarious fax he sent to this one Hollywood producer, giving every possible number where he could be contacted, included the supermarket down the road, his babysitter, his mum. He said there, now you've got absolutely no excuse not to call. (The guy called).

And in the end ... what a washout. I've gone off the movies, it's so long since I saw a decent one. Used to be my favourite art form, but I find now that I'm trapped in someone else's timescale, and I just can't handle the boredom. I can very happily watch paint dry, but I can't watch the movies they make any more. Sad. They're so expensive as well, especially when you walk out after five minutes.
 
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Why is it always the same old discussion, but different topics. oh well, maybe i spend too much time on the internet.

Nightspore, i dissagree, yes it is closer to Bladeruner but that is where a Neuromance film belongs, it's what made Bladerunner a great film.

as for the matrix, thats looking at the film as if it was already doomed.

you have to remember the first matrix film was not inundated with money, but idea.

nice idea's relating to children of men, but i would like the 'real-esque' street scape similar to those used in bladerunner, it was Scott's own city he had made for the film, and it is still one of the best films around.... even pirate's of the carribean uses real tall-ships for some of it's shots, and look at how well it's doing as a francise. i think people want a return to realism, and that is Neuromancers trongest points.
 
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