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When you think of Brad Pitt, you probably think giant movie star, global activist, Mr. Angelina Jolie, or something along those lines. One thing that probably doesn’t spring to mind is science fiction. Sure, he shows up in the likes of 12 Monkeys and World War Z on occasion, but that sort of genre fare is not his usual wheelhouse. But he’s working on a sci-fi film, and not only does it sound totally nuts, it also sounds damn awesome.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pitt and his Plan B Entertainment production company have teamed up with Warner Bros. to produce an adaptation of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s young adult sci-fi novel Illuminae. Before you start to imagine yet another Hunger Games knock off full of angst-ridden teens, love triangles, and some sort of oppressive governmental regime, this is something very, very different in most ways.
The plot of Illuminae revolves around a teenage girl, who just so happens to be a hacker, and her ex-boyfriend, who just so happens to be a fighter pilot. While they try to navigate the treacherous waters of their broken down relationship, they also have to contend with a massive conspiracy they discover, an intergalactic war against a hostile alien race, artificial intelligence that gets out of hand and runs amok, and a rogue virus that wreaks havoc. That’s some shit right there.
And it’s not just the story that sets Illuminae apart from its YA compatriots. The novel, which just hit stores in October and is reportedly the start of a trilogy (because everything is a trilogy), is also told in a unique, unusual way. The narrative unfolds not just from your normal teenage perspective, but via texts, instant messages, secret files, found documents, and more, in an almost epistolary form.
Now that they have the rights, the producers are starting the search for a writer, and I’m not going to lie, from the description, adapting this seems like a daunting task. How to you take such different, disparate methods of exposition, such non-visual cues, and turn that into a movie without losing what makes the source material special?
It wouldn’t be the first time Brad Pitt has been involved in an adaptation of a book with a unique structure where that has been bulldozed in favor of a more traditional delivery system. Max Brooks’ novel that serves as the source of World War Z is nothing like the movie. The plot unravels in a series of stories that are the tales of survivors of a zombie plague that is now in the past, and the only thing connecting these disparate threads the person collecting the recollections who barely appears in the foreground at all.
Even if they decide to use a standard story structure, which sounds like it would be way easier, but also a shame, Illuminae has a crazy enough story to be compelling as all hell on its own. This is obviously in the very early stages, but you can be we’ll be paying attention to how this develops.