'Upgrade' directed by Leigh Whannell

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Upgrade is a brutally awesome little high concept action movie. It felt very late 80s early 90s in tone. Basically a recently paralyzed macho guy in the not too distant future gets implanted with a chip that can control his body. The chip also has the personality of Iago mixed with Hal from 2001, and it knows Kung fu. Lots of blood and gore. It's a damn good time. It feels almost 'Scanners' level (good and bad). And the lead Logan Marshall-Green is quite a charismatic physical actor who can actually carry the movie. 

Its a Blumhouse movie, they did Get Out and the Purge movies and a whole lot of shlock horror movies that I could not justify paying to see. Apparently this movie only cost 3-5 million to make, but it looks way way way better than its low budget. I support the filmmaking concept of these low budget films. If you ask me there should be way more of them. This is a tradition and its what all good independent film comes out of. So if Blumhouse are the new Roger Corman/Troma but they are all the quality of Upgrade, then I look forward to a quality shlock moviehouse. The concept alone gives me career goals.

Upgrade is the second movie in the last seven months to directly rip off a few of the main concepts from the role-playing game Shadowrun to spin it into a movie. My favorite tabletop RPG. The Netflix movie Bright was blatant about ripping off the setting of Shadowrun without setting up the world with the same detail. The whole Middle Earth meets distopian Blade runner future thing. Pretty sure that's a direct rip-off.

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Upgrade takes another side of Shadowrun basically the Street Samurai catalog as it focuses mostly on bioware/cyberware/better than life virtual reality chips. Neither Bright or Upgrade are the first to take from Shadowrun, The Matrix was probably the first big one. The Matrix in the game was a virtual reality version of the internet that people accessed by plugging a wire into their central nervous systems via a data jack in their heads. It goes to show that Shadowrun was way ahead of its time as its futurist predictions and analogies, and cool scifi details like guns built into biology, and wired reflexes became more relateable and more viable in the culture both because they were cool and they addressed increasingly relevant fears in real life. And admittedly Shadowrun is crammed to the gills with high concepts, some original and most borrowed from other scifi and fantasy.

Shadowrun isn't the only Tabletop RPG from our youths to have an impact on cinema screens recently. Solo a star wars story contained lots of little tidbits that were only details in the original Star Wars RPG. Did Lawrence Kasdan write those details way back when? I mean they slavishly stuck to those old details down to the emaciated wookies Chewie saved in the spice mines of Kessel.

RPG books should be an obvious go to for Hollywood, they come with inbuilt character design, clever world building its actually amazing that there aren't very many direct adaptations considering how many Wil Wheaton aware geek screenwriters there are out there. I am surprised that after Lord of the Rings huge success there wasn't a DragonLance movie, I mean an rpg novel series with that many books out has an inbuilt fanbase on par with any comic book. maybe that's what the 2020's will bring us. Really though if Hollywood is looking for high concept adaptations, I wonder why they don't just randomly pick up any of the RIFTS sourcebooks open to any random page and start plundering,  


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