Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hollywood may be screwing up Neuromancer

The first time I read the opening line of Neuromancer, I was hooked.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." That line is all we need to know about the atmosphere of the novel that would come to spawn an entire genre on its own: Cyberpunk. With just a few years we had RPG's called "Shadow Run" and "Vampire: the Masquerade" seeking to copy some or all of the flavor you would get in just one reading of Neuromancer.

Well, at long last, it seems that Hollywood is getting closer to making a Neuromancer movie. I first read Neuromancer in 1990. By then it was known everywhere as the breakout novel from a new voice that seized the most prestigious awards in science fiction, The Phillip K. Dick Award, The Hugo, and The Nebula. Yowsa.
Concept art for Case done by Amro Attia. Click to make bigger.
I had never read anything like it. With Chiba city, a modern reinterpretation of the Yakuza, and street samurai, Gibson created an unforgettable atmosphere. But I just looked at the concept art done by artist Amro Attia for the movie that got posted on io9, and it's underwhelming. It looks like the generic stuff that has appeared in every cyberpunk RPG for twenty years. It had nothing new to it. Mr. Attia if you are reading my words (very unlikely), I'm not trying to insult your work as you draw very well. But seriously, these pics could have been cut and pasted from a Shadowrun fansite. Neuromancer DESERVES more.
Tattoo concept art by Amro Attia. Yakuza are all about tattoos.
Additionally, I'm not particularly excited about the cast. Mark Wahlberg has been offered the part of Case, and I really don't like Mark Wahlberg. There's no role he has ever been in that has made me want to see one of his movies.

I hope that when this movie gets made, it isn't awful like the Total Recall remake I saw this weekend. Oh how I wish I could get THAT 90 minutes of my life back.

Anyway, Hollywood may be screwing up Neuromancer and that doesn't make me happy.


  1. Neuromancer is a great book. I hate seeing my favorite books slaughtered by Hollywood. I don't see how Hollywood could do a good adaptation of Neuromancer. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt I am.

  2. As much as I loved that first line, I have to admit that Neuromancer was not an easy read for me. I loved the atmosphere though, and I'm indeed curious to see how it is translated onto the big screen.

    I think it boils down to the people handling the production, not just the concept artist. Most movies nowadays live or die by the vision of their directors. I'm not a huge Mark Walberg fan myself, but I loved him in The Departed and The Other Guys. A better actor for the role of Case would've been someone like Clive Owen.

  3. I think it may be too late to do the book properly. There's been so many films based on those ideas that the original will seem like old hat now.


  4. Hey, if anyone can screw it up, it's Hollywood. And glad I skipped the Total Recall remake. Thirty minutes of my life I didn't waste!

  5. Based on the presence of Wahlberg alone, I'd probably skip the adaptation of Neuromancer. The only one worse than him is John Malkovich.

    Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

  6. At this point do we even need a Neuromancer movie? We've already had the Matrix and other movies that use many of the same concepts involved, so it just seems redundant.

  7. Even in the worst of his movies, Mark Wahlberg is still eye candy. Hope he does justice to Neuromancer.

  8. It would be awesome if the book could be done well - unfortunately it's one of those things Hollywood tends to get wrong more often than right. I'll wait for the reviews ...

  9. @L.G.: I'm with you, L.G. Ah well, it's not like Hollywood hasn't butchered other author's works. I think only J.K. Rowling and Meyer are immune.

    @Michael: I thought Neuromancer was a pretty easy read. But I was really into Gibson's style of prose which could be considered "purple". I agree on your pick of Clive Owen. That's a great choice.

    @Moody: I never thought of it like that, but you could be right.

    @Alex: Total Recall was so bad.

    @Jamie: I don't mind Malkovich so much. He has a certain role that he really seems to do well. But that role is never as a hero. It's more as a support cast.

    @P.T.: Do we need any movie? Neuromancer has just as much right to be made into a movie as does Total Recall. Everything is redundant these days. Picking on this one doesn't seem right unless you pick on all the others.

    @Em: hahahah

    @mshatch: Probably sensible to do.

  10. I've never read the book. I definitely want to read it now.

  11. What about Date Night? Wahlberg was great in Date Night.

    Mostly, what you can depend on Hollywood to do is screw things up. Especially things as mental as Neuromancer. They're going to go for "cool," and they're going to model it after all the things based on it.

    Clive Owen does strike me as a great choice, though. Based on his role in Children of Men, I'd say he's an excellent choice.

  12. I've never heard of this book before, I'll have to add it to my to-read list. Thanks for the heads up on Total Recall, I was't sure about it. Maybe I will just stay away.

  13. If you hated the Total Recall remake you will really hate the Starship Troopers remake that is coming. According to the producer (same guy as Total Recall) they want it to be more patriotic... yeah. Maybe they should leave Paul Verhoeven movies alone for a while.
    I think the problems with this adaptation start with the director. Vincenzo Natali is a fine film maker; Splice was a good films and Ginger Snaps has its charms. However I think his visual style is all wrong. Excluding the obvious choices that would never happen (Nolan, Mann, Boyle, etc) I think that this would have been a good book to take some risks on the director.
    - Gaspar Noe (Enter the Void, Irreversible) While I didn't like Enter the void for various structural reasons it was a visual triumph. His vision of Tokyo via LSD was a perfect vision of cyberpunk minus the chrome. The final 30 minutes are a wonderfully hallucinatory vision of what cyberspace could be. Irreversible is a remarkable film. It is a gritty nasty and unpleasant as a film about sexual violence should be. It isn't fun but it is good. You can't stop watching, not out of some perverse titillation, but out of how well made the movie is. This ability to take unpleasantness and make a truly quality film would work well with Necromancer. These are the opening credits to Enter the Void (make sure you watch to the end) http://youtu.be/dL0lNGXoP8E That is what Neuromancer should feel like.
    Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst) Probably the best director working in Korea right now, he seems to be able to make anything but thrives on gritty material. Furthermore, his films have remarkably byzantine plots that somehow end up making total sense. He has done many genres from revenge to horror to sci-fi so why not take a shot. If you want to know how good he really is check out Night Fishing a short he made on an iphone; it won best short at the Berlin International Film Festival.
    After fixing the director the rest is less of an issue. Whalberg might be good, he was good in The Fighter and Boogie Nights.

  14. I hate when Hollywood screws things up. I never understand how they cast some of the movies they steal from books.

  15. @Tonja: I think "Neuromancer" is a quick read because it's so good you don't want to put it down. When I re-read it, it usually takes a couple of days and it's pure pleasure.

    @J.L.: Me too!

    @Andrew: I dunno, I've just never been excited about Wahlberg. It may be a personal preference.

    @Alyson: Total Recall sucked.

    @Brad: Did you like Total Recall's remake? Ugh. What a waste of money. Thanks for the link. I've never seen credits like that. The end didn't have enough footage for me to really get a grasp of the atmosphere, though. In my mind, Chiba city will be really crowded, lots of neon, plastic, plasma floors, tall screens, arcologies, and good-looking hyper-sexualized people everywhere. It should be like the baby of Tron: Legacy and Blade Runner combined with modern day Shenzhen. Actually, Total Recall's city shots (the new one) would be a good starting place for the atmosphere of my ideal Neuromancer movie.

  16. Ooooooo! I'll have to check it out!

  17. I haven't read this, but I'm going to. Thanks for mentioning it.

  18. I don't know a thing about this book. It sounds like a good one that I'd enjoy.

  19. I need to read this book. It's been on my list for too long now.

  20. trust hollyweird, where writers 'get no respect', like dangerfield said... all credit for a good film go to the asshole directors, who claim to be 'auteurs'...

    conveniently forgetting, if not for the original screenplay, by a WRITER, they'd have NOTHING to screw up in rewrites! GRRRRRRRRRR

  21. Mike,
    I skipped TR after hearing what they had done to it. I had been on the fence but some bad reviews and interviews with the director and principal screenwriter put me off. The should have left it alone or picked someone to direct who has more of a taste for the bizarre. Len Wiseman seems like the wrong person to put near a Phillip K Dick story.
    Those credits don't show you much of the movie but they are representative of how much of the film looks: bright, wild, intense, etc. Google image search can give you a sense of the film. I think we agree on the aesthetic anyway. Maybe we will get lucky and they will bring in someone with the right eye.

  22. I know I'm going to get drummed out of the sci fi community for saying this, but...

    I couldn't read Neuromancer.


    I tried. I picked it up. I couldn't get past the first page.

    That said, I don't know why Hollywood tries to make movies based on beloved novels. I guess they figure one of these days they'll get it right.

  23. I haven;t read Neuromance, but I know people who have and really like it. Yeah, Hollywood will probably screw that one up too.

  24. I recently finished reading this book. I do hope they don't mess up the movie . . . as likely as it may be.

  25. I adored Snowcrash, so I'm sure I'll love Neuromancer, I'm definitely planning on reading it before the movie so when the reviews roll I'll be in the know. So far, Stardust is the only movie that held up to the book and in someways even improved it.

    I do have high hopes for the Hobbit though.