"[We] didn’t make a movie based on the video game. We made a movie based on character’s relationships in a world that THQ made a video game about," declared Andrew Kreisberg, executive producer and writer of SyFy original film Red Faction: Origins, when asked about stigma and pitfalls that have dogged movies based on gaming properties since Super Mario Bros.
The conference call with Kreisberg, along with the film's director Michael Nankin and sci-fi (and SyFy) vets Brian Smith (Stargate: Universe's Matthew Scott) and Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica's Ellen Tigh), had a light, optimistic tone. The former because each of them seemed to be as happy to talk to each other as to the press, and the latter because of what both them and SyFy have at stake with this movie.
Red Faction: Origins is not a direct adaptation of a Red Faction game — it takes place in the years between 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla and the upcoming Red Faction: Armageddon. Kreisberg explained, "We took the same characters and relationships, politics, infrastructure and environment and we made a movie about it… rather then trying to convert a game experience into a film experience, which you can’t really do."
Director Nankin described the films setting: "In the future, the Earth has colonized Mars. The people in charge of Mars, the Earth Defense Force, mistreated on the level of Nazism the miners who populate Mars, enslaved them and did experiments on them until finally the miners staged revolution and threw them out and took control of Mars. There’s not been a ship from Earth in 20 years. And they’re holding on by the skin of their teeth to survive on this really tough planet."
Brian Smith stars as Jake Mason, the son of Red Faction: Guerrilla character Alec Mason (played here by Terminator 2: Judgment Day's T-1000, Robert Patrick), who joins the Red Faction militia just in time to confront some family secrets and fight in a new conflict that seeks to undo his family legacy.
Though this movie takes place on Mars in 22nd Century, Smith and Kreisberg see the film as thematically timeless.
"I said to [Brian] when we were talking about how to play Jake, 'just substitute the Red Faction militia for the LA Police Department and play it the exact same way,'" Kreisberg said.
"I'll say that the thing that I always thought about was this is like a western," Smith added. "This is about as close as I’ve ever gotten to shooting a western. And it’s funny that we actually talked a lot about the film The Searchers while we shot it."
"It really is about a father and a son and, you know, parental issues and it’s about survivor’s guilt," Kreisberg said. "It’s about loss and reconnection. I mean all the themes and the problems that people are dealing with, whether it’s survivor’s guilt or alcoholism, those are the universal themes that play whether it’s the 1920s, whether it’s the present day or whether it’s 300 years in the future on a terraformed Mars."
For fans of the franchise and for the Syfy Channel itself the success of Red Faction: Origins could have far-reaching consequences beyond the Red Faction: Armageddon game, which the channel's nascent gaming division has a stake in. "We’re certainly hopeful that if the movie performs as well as we hope, that there could either be future movies or a future series," Kreisberg describes, "I think all of us feel like there are a lot more stories to tell. So whether we get to tell them through a further movie or a possible television series, you know, that will depend on the fan base coming out and hopefully watching the film."
"The way that the film ends really seems to beg some kind of continuance with the storyline," Smith said. "It does a really great job of wrapping up what the film is about but also sort of asks a lot of questions about what could possibly happen next."
"Maybe that’s because the relationships are so rich," Kate Vernon speculated. "There’s so much potential and it’s like Andrew [Kreisberg] says, like a Shakespearean drama where everybody’s related and, six degrees of separation and the more layers that are unveiled, the more inside you get into these characters, and the more you want. And I think a lot of it is because the people are really likeable. But they’re also fighters. They’re also warriors. So there’s a real mix of action and heart and humanity."
Red Faction: Origins premiers Saturday, June 4 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central on Syfy.Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!