A friend of the family has a son who, at a younger age, was a huge fan of the Percy Jackson book series. So when the first movie hit theaters, he was one excited kid. Until he saw the movie. About 2/3 of the way through, he leaned over and said to his mom, “I don’t think the people who made this ever read the book.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
I thought about this as I re-read William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It’s a book that is almost aching for a big-screen adaptation. Gibson’s book is one part heist film, one part psychedelic punk anarchy and one part hacker manifesto. Neuromancer‘s action cuts quickly, giving it a very cinematic feel.
And Gibson’s prose is vividly descriptive without bogging down Neuromancer‘s action. Such as …
Cold steel odor. Ice caressed his spine. Lost, so small amid that dark, hands grown cold, body image fading down corridors of television sky. Voices. Then black fire found the branching tributaries of the nerves, pain beyond anything to which the name of pain is given …
Or how about this?
Nothing. Gray void. No matrix, no grid. No cyberspace. The deck was gone. His fingers were … And on the far rim of consciousness, a scurrying, fleeting impression of something rushing toward him, across leagues of black mirror. He tried to scream.
But would it work on the big screen? When I ask myself this, I keep returning to two films: 1995’s Hackers and The Matrix. Hacker‘s cyberspace scenes are ridiculous and cheesy, much like the entire film itself. Low-grade special effects, quick cuts to people typing, Fisher Stevens going apeshit as Angelina Jolie and a bunch of other young, B-list stars attempt to undo his all-knowing, all-commanding software. Yes, it was 1995, but Hackers and its backers lacked both vision and the budget necessary to make it work. When Gibson describes large walls of data and the viral assault on the Tessier-Ashpool mainframe, it’s both menacing and frightening. In the hands of the wrong director, it’s Hackers.
The Matrix, of course, is a classic, one that ripped its title from Neuromancer‘s very pages. And there are moments, such as when Case talks to the virtual Finn who represents the artificial intelligence known as Wintermute, that I can see Neuromancer done in the manner of Wachowski’s trilogy. Which seems odd: A movie based on a book that looks like another movie inspired by the book. Plus, knowing how too many moviegoers are brainless buttheads, most are going to think Neuromancer ripped off The Matrix. Much like the morons who think the Avett Brothers are just riding in the wake of Mumford & Sons, that happening would drive me out of my damn mind.
In the end, I’m not sure how any combination of writers and directors would do justice to Neuromancer on the big screen. I fear some sort of Michael Bay-Garrett Hedlund disaster that would probably barely break even and have the overall quality of a Spy Kids movie.
So ignore me, Hollywood. Forget I ever brought up Neuromancer. There is nothing to see here. Move along. Anyway, I’m sure Stephenie Meyer or Stephen King has something new for you to crap out, anyway. That would be better for all parties involved, especially since – in the end – a Neuromancer movie would probably be made by people who had never bothered to read the book.