Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dead Island Trailer to Get Feature-Length Adaptation

Back in February I flipped out over the outstanding trailer for the videogame Dead Island. Since then the game has been released, and while it's received generally positive reviews the final product isn't exactly groundbreaking. The trailer, on the other hand, has continued to garner critical acclaim. First it won a Gold prize at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (yeah, I hadn't heard of it either, but still). Now the franchise has been optioned by Lionsgate for a feature film adaptation, and it seems pretty damn clear that the trailer is the primary influence for the movie. The announcement press release reads,

Like the trailer that will serve as its primary creative inspiration, the film DEAD ISLAND will be an innovation of the zombie genre because of its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling. Said Drake of the property's acquisition, "Like the hundreds of journalists and millions of fans who were so passionate and vocal about the Dead Island trailer, we too were awestruck." He continued, "This is exactly the type of property we're looking to adapt at Lionsgate – it's sophisticated, edgy, and a true elevation of a genre that we know and love. It also has built in brand recognition around the world, and franchise potential."
So yeah, they're making a movie out the clear Dead Island trailer. I have kind of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it's kind of ridiculous to think that they're making a trailer (that it should be noted had almost nothing in common with the game it ostensibly represented) into a movie. Writing that out feels like I'm describing a bad Mad TV / sketch. It also reeks of creative bankruptcy, like taking the whole remake/reboot phenomenon to its natural extension. The idea just leaves me feeling kind of... dirty...

On the other hand, the trailer was FUCKING INCREDIBLE. If they can capture the same kind of pathos and emotional resonance that made the original trailer so good then I'll be first in line on opening night. The press release seems to indicate that the powers-that-be have at least some sense of what made the trailer so good, namely "its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling." I don't actually care if we get anything like the simultaneous backwards/forwards storytelling like we saw in the trailer. As far as I'm concerned the key aspect is the original's tone, the sense of tragic inevitability that made the trailer so devastating. Granted the non-linear nature of the storytelling had a lot to do with evoking that sentiment, but I don't necessarily think it's absolutely necessary for the film to be successful.

Time will tell if this movie ends up being more along the lines of the incredible trailer or the fun but relatively unemotional game. Fingers-crossed that it's the former. For now, take a few minutes to re-watch the trailer (at the top of this post) and remember what all the fuss is about.

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