Today sees the official launch of Gears of War 4, the fifth installment in the award-winning video game series. For those of you that were lucky enough to have pre-ordered the game, you got access to the game four whole days before everyone else and as such you may have already completed the campaign and will have started on the long journey of mastering the game's intense multiplayer. Gears 4 is the first game in the franchise not to be developed by Epic Games. Since Chinese company Tencent Holdings purchased over 40% of Epic's capital in 2012 many of the high-profile staff have left the company such as Cliff Bleszinski, Mike Capps, and Rod Ferguson. The latter, who previously oversaw development of the first three games in the Gears of War franchise is now the Studio Head of The Coalition, a subsidiary of Microsft Game Studios and the developer of Gears of War 4.
Today's release of Gears of War 4 coincides with recent news from the New York Comic Con that Universal Pictures are to develop a movie adaptation of the highly successful video game Gears of War. Universal Studios Producer Dylan Clark confirmed in a brief interview with IGN that the studio had met with veteran Gears of War developer Rod Ferguson and discussed possibilities for an adaptation of the widely successful video game. Originally developed by Epic Games, with the latest installment developed by The Coalition, Gears of War is set on a fictional Earth-like planet called Sera, which has been ravaged by war between the humans and a coalition of primitive subterranean races called the Locust. It is revealed throughout the first three games in the franchise that the Locust have been fighting another war against the Lambent - former Locust warrior's that have become possessed and infected by Imulsion, a highly potent liquid the humans have been using for fuel. The new game, released today, is set 25 years after the Humans destroyed both the Locust and Lambent, ending almost 17 years of war against the primitive but highly resilient Locust.
News of a movie adaptation isn't exactly, well new; fans have been speculating about a Gears movie since the first game was released in 2006. In the interim decade in between, we have been bombarded with, including the latest installment, five highly successful video games that have pushed the graphical and content bar of the genre to ever increasing standards. During this period fans have had many a say in who they think should play the quartet of heroes and the supporting characters, but before we get to the cast, let us take a serious look at who should direct and score the film, and who should handle the movies effects, both visual and practical.
Behind the Scenes
The leading cast of the Gears of War games is reminiscent of the cast of the 1987 cult classic science fiction movie Predator, which was directed by John McTeirnan, who also directed Die Hard and The Hunt For The Red October. Despite the director's obvious directorial abilities, the fact that he was recently declared bankrupt following incarceration in a federal prison may not prove alluring to Universal Pictures. Other possible directors that have also worked with a cast of "larger than life" action stars would be either Simon West or Patrick Hughes, directors of The Expendables 2 & 3 respectively.
For the scoring of the movie a composer is needed that is able to transition a video game score into a more atmospheric audio backdrop for the movies on-screen action. One such composer could be Harry Gregson-Williams, who has been scoring the Metal Gear games since the release of Meta Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in 2001. Should Williams not be available another possibility for scoring a Gears of War movie could be Tom Holkenborg AKA Junkie XL, who recently scored Mad Max Fury Road to critical acclaim, and has scored many video games.
While the Locust could be realized by WETA Digital using CGI in a similar fashion to how the Navi were brought to life for James Cameron's Avatar, fans of the game, and likely the developers too would appreciate the Locust being brought to life on the big screen using practical makeup effects, as with the Locust bust pictured above created by Triforce. Studio ADI, founded by Alec Gillis and Tom Woddruff Jr. may have plenty of experience, but the true heirs to the legacy that was Stan Winston; Legacy Effects should be the monster makers for a Gears movie.
Finally, in terms of the narrative the movie should re-tell the events of the first game starting with Marcus' breakout from prison, his introduction to Delta Squad comrades Cole and Baird and their attempts to detonate a light-mass explosive in an attempt to destroy the Locust threat. However, elements such as the Kryll, the extra Brumak scene that was missing from the Xbox 360 version of the game and possibly the factory filled with wretches could possibly be removed from the narrative to help keep the pace of the movie fluid and exciting. Now to the cast, as chosen by the fans...
Marcus Fenix - Gerard Butler / Dominic Purcell
In the games, Marcus is voiced by John DiMaggio, who also supplies the voice talents for Futurama's very own Bender. Marcus is quite a tricky character to cast, as although he is the leader of the group, he is so by example not by any authoritative standing, having been brought into Delta Squad as the events of the first game unfolded around him. We believe Butler is the most realistic choice, but the role could help Purcell demonstrate some hereunto unseen range. Other suggestions for Marcus include Dave Bautista, Dwayne Johnson, and John Travolta.
Dominic Santiago - Oded Fehr / Jon Bernthal
Dom, voiced by Carlos Ferro in the games, is Marcus' friend who breaks him out of prison and brings him back into the war against the Locust. A deep character, it is revealed in the first game that Dom is looking for his wife Maria, who has been missing since the Locust war began 14 years prior. Pickings are slim for possible casting choices but Oded Fehr's performances in the Mummy and Resident Evil movies make him the main contender for the role. However Bernthal's rise in prominent roles in The Walking Dead, Fury and Daredevil makes him worthy of consideration for the role of Dom. Other suggestions for Dom also include Franky G.
Augustus Cole - Lester Speight / Terry Crews
Our first choice for who should play the Cole Train is, of course, the man who supplies the voice for the character in the games - Lester Speight, who has also appeared in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the hit comedy TV show My Wife and Kids. Should Speight not be available to realize the role for the big screen then the only actor who could match his physique and boundless character would be Terry Crews. Other suggestions for the Cole Train have included 50 cents.
Damon Baird - Ryan Reynolds / Chris Pine
Voiced by prominent voice artist Fred Tatasciore in the games Baird is the engineer and comic relief of Delta Squad. When it comes to a fair-haired, athletic action star there is really only one candidate for the role; Ryan Reynolds. But with his dedication to the Deadpool movie franchise Reynolds may not be so easily swayed to join the cast, in which case some fans have suggested Chris Pine in his place.
Lt. Minh Young Kim - Jason Scott Lee / Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Lt. Kim's brief appearance in the first Gears game reminded many fans of Jason Scott Lee's appearance in the Blade Runner semi-sequel Soldier, which also starred Kurt Russell. Another choice for Lt. Kim, that would help audiences see the character as more of a comrade of Hoffman rather than of Delta squad would be to cast Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who notoriously portrayed Shang-Tsung in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie.
Col. Victor Hoffman - Stephen Lang / R. Lee Ermey
Acting as the audiences introduction into the bureaucratic nature of the COG, Hoffman resembles both the stereotype of the over-indulgent drill sergeant and one of the many cogs and gears (sorry) that make up the corporate interests of the COG, as such Hoffman should be portrayed as part mentor and part corporate arsehole, though an a-hole that, in the games at least, will redeem himself in time. Given his portrayal of Col. Miles Quaritch in Avatar no-one is better suited for the role than Stephen Lang. Although if the balance of the character was to be more towards that of the mentor then R. Lee Ermey could prove very effective in the role of Hoffman.
Anya Stroud - Ali Larter / Katee Sackhoff
Given their tendencies to star in fan favorite franchise movies such as Resident Evil and Riddick actresses Larter and Sackhoff are both ideally suited for the role of COG officer Anya Stroud, who will go on to become J.D's mother in the all-new Gears of War 4, as such some on-screen chemistry with the lead actor chosen to play Marcus Fenix would be a must.
General Raam - Ian Whyte & Andy Serkis
Every action flick needs a villain, and what better villain to realize on the big screen than that of General Raam, the fearless leader of the Locust army. Using practical makeup effects and prosthetics with monster performer Ian Whyte (Prometheus, AVP, AVPR) wearing the suit and additional voice talent from Andy Serkis would make a live action rendition of Raam truly imposing.
Do you agree with the cast and crew choices for a Gears of War movie as selected by the fans? Can you think of a director capable of realizing the ravaged world of Sera, beset upon by the monstrous forces of the Locust?