The Good, Bad, and Ugly Truths of Making a Metal Gear Solid Movie
The rumors were thick and tumltuous for a long time, but a Metal Gear Solid movie is finally confirmed to be in development, thanks to Avi Arad, super producer of many of the last Marvel superhero movies. This should both excite and frighten long term fans of the series, because no matter how optimistic we can be about the project, we have to know that Hollywood is very talented when it comes to ruining the things we love. Without a doubt, there are some unavoidable truths – good, bad, and ugly – about making a Metal Gear Solid movie.
- The Games Are Already Movies
Hideo Kojima himself is fascinated with film making. This is incredibly evident in the Metal Gear Solid games. Each game became more and more about extensive, elaborate cut scenes, documenting the war torn battle grounds and dense stories of the series through an active, artful camera lens. The transfer to the big screen will be relatively painless, considering the sheer amount of film technique used in making of the game. The game makes a huge point about putting Snake and Co. in situations where the beautiful cinematography can be showed off, a technique that Hollywood is (in)famous for.
- Rife with Show Stealing Action that Americans will Love
Blowing things up is about as American as apple pie. The only thing more American than blowing things up, is filming things getting blown up. The series is full of great action set pieces that were made for American film goers. Some of the series best include the Shagohad rundown in Snake Eater, and the Ray vs. Rex duel on Shadow Moses.
There are also plenty of more intimate thrills and dramatic action that could be adapted to be very much Borne-like. One-on-One battles like Colonel Vulgin vs. Snake, or Vamp vs. Raiden are visual spectacles in and of themselves. Tense heart-pounders like boarding the USS Discovery can make for real edge of your seat moments.
- Removing Interactivity Removes Most of the Charm
What becomes one of the hardest lines to walk in any game-to-movie adaptation is capturing the charm of the game and transforming it into movie glam, without losing it completely. It rarely ever works, if the two Street Fighter movies have taught anyone anything.
But the Metal Gear Series is an especially difficult case. Most of the things that make the series so unique and iconic are how Hideo Kojima’s team has so perfectly melded gameplay and storytelling. Without the ability to control and engage the product directly, it loses a lot of what makes it great. It’s like just listening to a movie. You may get an idea of what is happening, but it was made for the screen for a reason.
Some of the series best moments define this completely. The battle with The End is one of the most interesting parts of Snake Eater because of how it plays off of the status quo of boss fights. One of the most memorable moments in any game, the fight with Psycho Mantis in Twin Snakes, breaks first wall barriers by allowing the villain to read your actions through your controller, and your game history through your memory card, to intimidate you. This can never happen in a film adaptation.
This doesn’t doom the film, but it does almost guarantee its place in some sort of “not-as-good-as-the –book” purgatory that many adaptations in all genres face.
- The Story is Absolutely Bonkers…
I’m one of the biggest MGS fans I know, and it’s almost like being a cult worshipper. I can never truly explain what the games about besides really general descriptions of spies and political intrigue, because mentioning “LaLiLuLeLo” might get me laughed at. For as much as I loved the series as a whole, I can never, with real confidence, recommend any of them to people, because it’s just too ridiculous for the average gamer. The fourth installment is one of the best designed games on the PS3, and I can’t tell someone that they should play it, because I know it makes little sense.
Even when discussing it amongst other fans, we often find ourselves confused about our different interpretations of the same events. We babble around each other awkwardly, and our interaction melts before us. Suddenly, we are scared little nerds again, and recess back into our shells to think about what the hell just happened.
The issue is, though, removing the depth and nuance of the story in an attempt to simplify it also takes away from the kind of impact and real genius that it can achieve, for the open minded. If it’s just about spies and super soldiers, you might as well just make another Universal Soldier and get it over with (please don’t).
- …And so are the Characters
Fat men riding roller skates, a living beehive, bondage psychics. If there’s anything more unsettling and confusing than the stories and plots throughout the Metal Gear Solid series, it’s the characters. For every interesting and bad ass cyber ninja assassin, there’s a bi-sexual vampire to muddy the whole experience.
But whether you like them or hate them, the game is very much defined by these goofy avatars. Gamers can be more forgiving when it comes to these things than your average movie goer. One German she-badass with hairy armpits can really put off American audiences. Though I do wish to one day see Michael Fassbender pirouette down bombed-out, warzone streets, and knee sliding from victim to victim.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I missed something. What are other undeniable truths about making the MGS movie? Comment below!