Video game movie adaptations are not the radioactive stuff they used to be. The commercial achievements of Detective Pikachu and now Sonic the Hedgehog have taken some of the historical stigmas out of making a video game movie and the associated worry of committing oneself to critical doom and ending in the red on the budget.
As part of this surprise twist of destiny, Borderlands has been greenlit for a cinematic adaptation headed by director-actor Eli Roth, of Inglorious Basterds fame.
Those less connected with video game culture may only dimly recognize it on sight, yet Borderlands is one of the most popular enduring series within the somewhat insular world of gaming. The blockbuster franchise includes high-octane violence, alien eldritch abominations, excellent villains, and snarky robots, all in a Mad-Max-styled wasteland.
Borderlands 3, published in September 2019, established a record for its distributor 2K by being the fastest-selling title it has ever developed, with five million units sold in the first week of release. Here’s what to expect of this franchise’s explosive launch on the silver screen.
Who has been Cast in the Borderlands Movie?
With the new director and screenwriter being just confirmed, there is no formal major casting news as of yet. However, Roth attended PAX East 2020 and, in a highly colorful panel appearance, announced that he did wish to cast cosplayers in the film as extras and give them their spectacular live-the-game moment by having them tragically slain by one key character or another.
If it seems crude, remember: this is an M-rated first-person-shooter video game property being adapted, and it is Eli Roth, director of Hostel, talkin.
Any die-hard admirer would be glad to (fictionally) die on camera for him. Elite Borderlands cosplayers are considered by many to be at the top of the game because the extra effort is made to paint themselves and the costumes as if they are cel-shaded in the same manner the game’s characters are drawn.
We’re not sure how seriously to take literally anything Roth says, but that could tip us into his artistic vision for the picture.
In May of 2020, the first casting announcement came down the pike. Per IGN, Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett has officially and improbably signed on for the Mazin-penned video game project. She’s supposed to portray the thief-siren Lilith.
Then, as if in response to fan conjecture, which was about to reach a crescendo, we learned that comedian Kevin Hart had been formally tapped to play Roland (via IGN) (via IGN). While we don’t have additional casting news to report, those are undoubtedly two huge elements to construct the remainder of the film around.
What is the Plot of the Borderlands Movie?
No official information is as of yet available for the Eli Roth-directed project, but past rumors and leaks have hinted that Lilith the Siren may be the heroine of a notional Borderlands movie, a suggestion lent validity by the early casting of Blanchett in the part.
Full Circle Cinema claimed this supposed centering on a female protagonist as an exclusive story back in June of 2019, but it also names an earlier screenwriter and was written before Roth and the current author, Craig Mazin, were attached to the film.
That’s not to say it isn’t conceivable, as Lilith is one of the Vault Hunters from the original game who goes on to play a vital part as an NPC in both sequels, but no certainty currently exists.
The general plot of all three Borderlands games focuses on the protagonists (there are over a dozen different playable characters across the three major games) looking for Vaults left by an extinct alien culture called Eridians.
The Vaults hold both essential technologies and ancient cosmic monsters that must be fought to avoid their destroying planets and occasionally even the universe itself. There are numerous prospective adversaries to choose from, depending on whatever game the film wishes to draw the most elements from.
Video game film adaptations normally are very, very loose versions of their source material, so we wouldn’t necessarily bank on Roth’s rendition directly adapting any particular game’s story.
What is the Release Date for the Borderlands Movie?
These are really early days for this development, thus there isn’t even a realistic ballpark to estimate a release date for the picture. With that has to come to the disclaimer that many movies — and especially video game adaptations — suffer for long periods of time in development hell (Sonic’s character redesign crisis serving as just the latest illustration of what may go wrong).
That aside, it does sound like the script is either finished or very close to it, as The Hollywood Reporter mentions writer Craig Mazarin’s work in the past tense.
Borderlands Movie Writer and Director: Who’s Behind the Film?
The core creative team behind the Borderlands flick consists of Craig Mazin, the award-winning screenwriter behind HBO’s Chernobyl and the upcoming The Last of Us TV show, and Eli Roth – the horror director behind 2005’s Hostel, who famously appeared in Quentin Tarintino’s Inglourious Basterds as the muscular Donny Donowitz.
Mazin is gaining a lot of attention in Hollywood these days, and his attachment gives the picture some real legitimacy – in case you were worried it would merely be loaded with Claptrap’s typical quips. Roth seems like a smart pick for the cartoonish violence of the Borderlands series, too.
In fact, in the aforementioned interview, Kevin Hart stated the film’s director is “really banging this movie out of the park” – so there’s every potential it may genuinely be something worth watching.
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I have been working professionally as a writer and editor for the previous three years, and my areas of expertise include history, the humanities, entertainment, and essential nonfiction. Writing and editing articles as a freelancer is something I’ve been doing for the past two years.