JJ Abrams Still Working on Portal Movie Adaptation; Details "Soon"

JJ Abrams Still Working on Portal Movie Adaptation; Details "Soon"

New wave of entirely too many "the cake is a lie" meme references inbound.

Of all the video-game-to-Hollywood adaptations currently known to be in various stages of licensing, development, or development hell, the film conversion of Valve's Portal seems like the most benign. Unlike, say, Asteroids or Tetris, Portal can actually sustain some sort of narrative. Plus, it has nerd patron saint JJ Abrams at the helm.

The idea of Portal movie was first floated back at DICE 2013, and Abrams recently told IGN that not only is the project still in active development, fans should expect an announcement "fairly soon."

Soon, a whole new audience will have a chance to beat a running joke with an amusing payoff into the ground all over again.

For better or for worse, Abrams seems like an ideal candidate for the task. He's demonstrated an uncanny knack for preserving the spirit of beloved source material — perhaps too much of a knack, as many people have opined about the too-familiar plot beats of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. At the same time, he's also demonstrated a willingness to diverge from an existing property's extant material for the sake of mass appeal, as with his Star Trek reboot.

The concept of Portal as a film definitely necessitates a little of both disciplines. It instantly became an iconic part of the collective nerdscape thanks to its dry, witty writing and the memorably maniacal rants of deranged computer GLaDOS. On the other hand, most of what made the game work so well in the first place had to do with the fact that, well, it was a game. Protagonist Chell never spoke, and the game's most liberating twist emerged from the concept of her "breaking out" of the constraints of the video game simulation. It should be difficult for Abrams and his crew to reproduce that sensation of the player escaping the game's constraints in a passive movie, or of the player's immersion that helped sell Portal in the first place. But then again, the concept of the actual portals lends itself to a mind-bending special effect extravaganza... and that is something Abrams can pull off, no question.

Of course, the real strength of Abrams at the helm of a Portal movie is that, thanks to the fate of the Weighted Companion Cube, it already has his obligatory "death of a favorite character" plot twist built right in. Or am I thinking of Joss Whedon? I always get my Hollywood nerd auteurs mixed up.

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