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 CuarÃ³n'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).
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!