During their ‘Storytelling Across Platforms’ panel at the DICE 2013 Summit, Gabe Newell (founder of Valve Corporation) and J.J. Abrams (director of the Star Trek reboot and future Star Wars Episode VII) teased future collaborations, including a movie based on either the Half-Life or Portal game franchises.
This exciting news also came with the hint of a game collaboration. Presumably speaking for his production company, Bad Robot, Abrams said that “There’s an idea for a game that we’d really like to work with Valve on,” and Newell replied, “We’re super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie.”
Abrams later said, “We are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas.” There is not much more information than that on the progress of the projects. It would certainly be interesting to see Bad Robot work on a video game, and even more interesting to see how they would translate the existing Half-Life or Portal stories into a movie.
I can see Half-Life working better as a movie. It already feels like you’re playing through a Hollywood blockbuster, and the story and characters are perfectly suited for live-action. Fans have been debating for years over the cast list for a Half-Life movie, with Hugh Laurie being a common favourite to play hero Gordon Freeman. The biggest problem would be getting around the fact that Gordon never speaks or is seen in any of the Half-Life games, with Valve generally letting the player imagine a personality for him.
Portal would be more difficult to adapt for the silver screen, as the games revolve entirely around solving puzzles. However, the universe is brimming with personality. Wheatley, a character in Portal 2, voiced by Stephen Merchant, was nothing more than a robotic eyeball, and he managed to express more personality than a lot of real-life actors. If it went ahead I think it would be essential to bring back the original voice actors for a Portal movie (the aforementioned Stephen Merchant and Ellen McClain, voice of evil A.I. GlaDos), as they make up so much of the wonderful atmosphere in the games.