Metal Gear Solid is an iconic gaming franchise beloved by millions of people all over the globe. The keyword in that statement being "gaming". Series creator Hideo Kojima announced way back in May 2006 that a live action adaptation was in development, but news since then had been few and far between until reports in early 2015 emerged that Sony were eyeing Jordan Vogt-Roberts to direct the film and confirmation that Jay Basu will write the screenplay. The news that the early stages of a Metal Gear Solid film are under works will be music to the ears of a lot of fans but not to this one. Let me explain.
Why Metal Gear Stories Work In Game form...
Everything that makes Metal Gear so special is in large part due to the medium of gaming. Stripping Metal Gear from a console and slapping it on a big screen simply won't resonate with casual movie goers but altering the material to make it film friendly and accessible to main stream audiences just defeats the purpose entirely. The premise of Metal Gear Solid is a goofy one , It's essential a Spy Thriller with a plot that's needlessly complex and at times so indiscernible that it often leaves those who play it lost and confused as to what's happening on their screens. As with most forms of Japanese entertainment the characters in the game are often over the top and camp, the English dubbing extenuates this as the direct translation of the Japanese script tend to sound odd or even outright ridiculous when spoken in English. This however actually plays to the games strength somehow, the back story may be a tangled web of secret organizations that fund proxy wars to fuel the war economy or something convoluted along those lines, but its the little odd nuances, out there characters and wacky moments that we encounter with Snake that make the unfollowable story endearing to us. The unconventional boss battle with Psycho Mantis is a great example of this where he reads your memory card , vibrates your controller and the only way to overcome him is to switch your controller into its second slot. Encounters like that made the first Metal Gear Solid instantly memorable , it didn't make any sense and it completely broke the fourth wall but that was the point. The series is full of bonkers moments like this , from the legendary boss battle in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater with The End, where if you turned off your game and came back in a weeks time the ancient sniper will have succumbed to old age, to simply using the PS3's sixaxis controller to bounce Rosemary's breast's while on a codec call to her in Gun's of the Patriots.
Metal Gear is a series that doesn't take itself too seriously, most of its greatest moments are when it isn't being serious and it uses the medium of games to take full advantage of that. It can afford to be out there and try things that have never been done before , the experience is interactive , you the player are living out and controlling all these wild experiences as Snake and you truly understand and appreciate Kojima's style of humor because of this. As much as it should not work, it just simply does. This isn't to say Metal Gear does not have it's fair share of somber and emotionally resonating moments , the death of Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid 1 and The Boss in Snake Eater are resounding prove of this but overall Metal Gear isn't an overly dark or serious experience , yet a lighthearted one that constantly reminds you that you are playing a video game even as much as it immerses you in its game play , this is the genius of Metal Gear Solid.
Why A Metal Gear Story Wont Work In Cinema...
As mentioned above the story of Metal Gear is fairly ridiculous and full of hammy dialogue but it works because it's meant to be taken as such. Hollywood these days has a tendency to take well established lighthearted properties and try and give them a darker , gritter edge often to disastrous results, a prime example of this being the recently released Fantastic Four movie. The director Josh Trank deviated from the source material and tried to invoke a David Cronenberg-esque experience from what are at heart very cartoonish characters , which clearly clashed with the studios vision resulting in a jumbled mess of a movie.
The Metal Gear Solid movie faces a similar yet more challenging dilemma. Games are interactive whilst movies are linear forms of entertainment , thus adapting a game into a movie is already doomed to feel like a step down. Those who gained a connection with characters trough playing the game will immediately have this connection lessened in movie form as they are no longer the drivers of the story , they are now the passengers watching somebody else's vision for their favorite characters. This in turn is a massive problem for screenwriters tasked with adapting video game plots, as games being primarily interactive experiences means their story outcomes are often open ended and branch off in many potential directions making the task of nailing down a solid cohesive plot near impossible for even the most skilled screenwriters. This is why every attempt at a video game film adaptation has failed so far, they alienate mainstream audiences and the core fan base of the source material. This becomes even more of a problem with MGS as it is such a unique game , a faithful adaption would be an overly long and complicated mess of a movie whilst changing it in anyway completely dampens the Metal Gear experience for fans, a catch-22 if ever there has been.
Metal Gear Solid and video games in general simply need to be left alone by film studios but Hollywood loves a recognized name brand and knows just how massive games have become with the 18-35 year old demographic and they want a slice of that very lucrative pie. However games are designed for a specific platform and adapting them in the past has proven to be too difficult a task for studios yet Hollywood continues to butcher our favorite licenses for a quick buck. Perhaps one day someone will actually make a good video game movie , but really I don't want them to , I want games to be enjoyed as there supposed to be enjoyed , by playing them. Games don't need to be reduced to more linear forms of entertainment , they need to be respected as the art they already are.
Games simply put....need to be played.
This has been a Hans Honest Opinion, thanks for reading and peace out!