…However, he will retain a producer’s credit through his company Blind Wink. Gore Verbinski was contractually obliged to leave the project after BioShock changed filming locations in order to curb escalating costs. He is currently directing animated feature Rango for Paramount.
Developed by 2K Boston/2K Australia, BioShock is an immersive first person shooter set inside the underwater city of rapture – a dreamy utopian Eden turned blood-soaked nightmare though the abuse of genre-altering plasmids mined via the sea bed. Set in 1960, the game blends a mixture of design influences spanning the 1930s to 1950s’ Art Deco revival and the neo-Victorianism of Steampunk. By rights BioShock should lend itself more comfortably to the presently pioneering technology of cinema than any video game adaptation so far.
Steampunk is a subculture based on reproducing a neo-Victorian existence through costume. Aesthetically this means a mingling of pipes and goggles, stitched leather, brass and dials on historical dress.
There is a Goth vibe, but the ethos of Steampunk runs deeper. It is science fiction as an alternate reality, a universe where past meets future in a twisted blend of steam-powered machine and man. For a populist representation on film, Wild Wild West (1999) is an accessible if elementary starting point.
BioShock does not draw solely from the movement that is Steampunk, though it is obviously a prominent influence. For the movie, potential is in place to create some truly magnificent costumes that suck all comers into BioShock’s historically anarchic world; roviding of course the cash is there, as this is already an expensive movie ($160 million and counting).
What Gore Verbinski leaving the project will mean in terms of BioShock’s overall look is uncertain. His Pirates films defied critical expectation, even if they did fail to reinvigorate a dead genre past their own success. While deemed to have the ‘magic touch’ at turning a hit from one form of entertainment expression to an even bigger hit on another, perhaps Verbinski would have brought too much expectation with him?
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is an interesting choice. A love of gore will be evident to anyone who has seen 28 Weeks Later – and BioShock certainly features a lot of blood and guts. But there is also an intriguing poke at the human condition as well. Whether Fresnadillo (if he gets the gig), or indeed Verbinski in his producer’s guise, can capture this wicked Steampunk-fused abstract on film remains to be seen.
© 2009 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.