Independence Day and 2012 director Roland Emmerich has long had his eye on making a huge-budget version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, but it stalled without a suitable script. Now, it seems, with the hiring of a new writer, things are back on track.
Dante Harper is the lucky writer to follow in the footsteps of Oscar-nominee Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, Falling Skies). Harper is coming off of writing All You Need Is Kill for director Doug Liman, Black Hole for David Fincher, and a rewrite of the currently-shooting Jeremy Renner flick, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Despite this forward movement in a project that's been stalled since 2009, two questions remain:
1) Should Foundation even be a movie? Asimov's book is famously a sprawling, pan-generational narrative and part of what makes it work is its lack of a single main character—at least, one who isn't an old-dude scientist whose primary mode of action is thinking a lot. Emmerich thought he and Rodat had cracked that issue, as he revealed back in October of 2009:
"[Robert Rodat] said, 'We have to consolidate the characters.' And that's what we did, and that's what's worked really, really well in the context. And I think that if Asimov ... would have ... conceived this as a science fiction trilogy or series from the very beginning, he would have done that, too. But he didn't. ... I think in spirit [the movie is] totally Foundation, but it has consolidated characters which go through the three movies."
Still, there are simply some books that should simply remain books. Existing on the page is their first, best destiny.
2) Is Emmerich the right guy to direct Foundation? That's the million-dollar question. Nothing in his resume betrays an understanding of character or much of a gift for anything beyond the explodo. Perhaps his "Shakespeare is a fraud" period film Anonymous will change that impression. But as it stands, there are a handful of filmmakers out there who could do justice to Foundation—or would admit that Foundation should just be left alone—and all the evidence points to Emmerich not being one of them.
We could very well be wrong, and he could deliver his 2001 (instead of another 2012). Only time will tell.