It’s a minor shock to my system every time I remember there is a Borderlands movie being made. And Cate Blanchett is in it?! It’s nuts. Something that lines up pretty nicely with the fact that I have been thinking about Borderlands a lot lately, as I am prone to do at least once a year. This time spurred on by the fact that I am playing through Borderlands 3 again with a friend.
Back in the year it came out, Borderlands 3 managed to find its way onto my game of the year list. Looking at it again now with more sober eyes, I’m not sure my initial hype for the game hold up… at this point, most of my love for the game comes from the gameplay loop, the randomisation of weapons and character build options.
My enjoyment comes from the game’s mechanics. Because it sure doesn’t come from the game’s story anymore. Which is really an immediate warning sight about a potential movie based on this franchise. Let’s be honest, the tone and attitude of the Borderlands franchise haven’t aged well. Hell, Borderlands 3 was out of date tonally when it was new.
So right off the bat, it doesn’t fill me with that much confidence that a Borderlands could be anything but a disaster. We only have to dig into what little information we have available to us to corroborate that. We’ve got this world filled with loud, obnoxious characters who are more likely to scream some internet humour at you in some highly affected character voice than have kind of depth or complexity to them.
And a world like that is being placed into the hands of a director like Eli Roth.
It’s a match made in absolute hell. I mean: he’s perfect. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. But hey, maybe we’re jumping the gun here. I mean this movie has to contend with the flat assumption that all movies adapted from video games are going to be bad by default. Which does seem to be the case more often than not. I mean, look at that Monster Hunter trailer. It’s like the perfect example of how not to make a video game adaptation of a franchise.
And yet, despite all of this there is some small feeling in my gut telling me that this movie, just maybe, could be something more than the games have been peddling since 2. I’ll be honest, I’m basing this entirely on the fact that Cate Blanchett has been attached to play Lilith, and was fantastic in Thor: Ragnarok. A movie that has a number of very loose commonalities with the Borderlands franchise. On a superficial level at least.
The plot to the first Borderlands game is paper-thin. Which could mean that there’s plenty of room to turn those characters and that setting into something more. Look, I know using Ragnarok as a basis for comparison is kind of absurd and probably unfair on a potential Borderlands movie, but that movie really is cut from the same kind of cloth as Borderlands, just done with more class. It is possible, and while Monster Hunter is still looming on the horizon like some horrible, smelly sunrise, there has been a renewed ability in movies to make video game movies at least watchable.
The Sonic the Hedgehog movie was totally fine. It was probably really good if you were a small child. The Detective Pikachu movie was actually really good. The fact that we’ve got an Uncharted movie on the horizon and we live in a world where the weirdest comic book concepts are finding themselves being turned into super entertaining movies, there is every chance that a Borderlands movies could surprise us all.
And as much as the cast of Borderlands 3 are driving me insane right now, I still have an attachment to the characters of the franchise. And I’m still salty they BL3 did the dirty on Brick and Mordi. As much as they talk shit and try to act too cool, there is a core in there about a bunch of misfits coming together and finding a family that genuinely cares for one another.
Almost like another movie about a misfit gathering of space outlaws that I absolutely adore, who come together to defend a region of space… My point is that there is a perfect opportunity for a Borderlands movie to come out and actually be pretty good. It just needs to remember to keep the core of a heart in there. Something I feel was lost a little in Borderlands 3 compared to 2 and the Telltale game.
Which is a tall order when you’ve got Eli Roth at the helm who, in all likelihood, will turn the movie into an Uwe Boll class of video game adaptation rather than wholesale ripping off Guardians of the Galaxy, which is what it really should be looking at doing. If we end up getting a 90-minute audio/visual shitpost, I’ll be a little sad even if unsurprised. But there is every opportunity for a Borderlands movie to surprise us all and be something worth watching.
If we’ve got Cate Blanchett carrying it, anything could happen. And if she’s as badass like she was in Ragnarok, with minimal references to meat bicycles along the way, who knows what could happen, but I’ll say I have higher hopes for this than I do for that Monster Hunter movie… I mean have you seen that trailer, talk about missing the point…