Do we really need a Metal Gear Solid movie?
So, there are plans to make a movie based on a video game that draws an insane amount of inspiration from cheesy 80s action movies. Now, while the previous sentence was an absurd simplification of Kojima Productions and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series of games, it isn’t particularly far from the truth. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know that complex conspiracy theory-laden plots, overarching storylines, near-future technology and a healthy dose of 80s action movie campiness all go hand in hand, often combining rather well to deliver an almost sublime gaming experience (in MGS’ case, always). But is there room (in a literal sense) for all of that in cinema? Well, the answer to that question is a resounding “probably not”.
Forget the bigger picture for a minute, however. The real concern for us gamers is not whether the premise of the game will work in a film format, but whether we should be forced to endure the inevitable simplification of the aforementioned complexities of MGS as we know it. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots alone had over 10-hours of “film” content — non-interactive cinematic moments gorgeously rendered in its game engine (which also included a crazy 45-minute ending cutscene). The previous games featured a substantial amount of non-interactive footage as well — not quite as boast-worthy as Guns of the Patriots, but stuff of legend that series fan-boys still get teary-eyed during conversations (MGS 3’s ending is a particularly adept tear jerker). What I’m basically getting at is this: there’s nothing Hollywood can do that the creators of Metal Gear Solid can’t do better — even from a filmmaking standpoint. Why? This is because game-to-film adaptations are not directed by critically-acclaimed filmmakers. Let’s just say gentlemen like Chris Nolan, Marty Scorcese and Steven Soderbergh are less likely to be involved than Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne, Far Cry, Dungeon Siege), Christophe Gans (Silent Hill), Paul WS Anderson (Resident Evil, Dead or Alive), Xavier Gens (Hitman) or umm, Michael Bay (every film with a budget exceeding $200 million). No disrespect to the latter group of directors — their movies appeal to different audiences; it’s just that they will simply not fit the bill for this particular project, and studios will be oblivious to this fact. Besides, would you rather have a mediocre action film than no film at all?
Casting will prove to be a particularly controversial talking point as well. For instance, there were talks of Sony making an Uncharted movie a while back, and Mark Wahlberg was a favourite to play Nathan Drake. Gamers (and general all-round geeks) all knew Nathan Fillion should have landed that job, right? Fortunately, the project never saw the light of day, but it almost seems as if they’re serious this time around. And that brings us to the toughest, most thankless task in the world of entertainment: fan service. How much do you really think they can cram into 90-or-so minutes of footage? Will we see the outrageous villains in their equally outrageous outfits spouting campy dialogue? What about Snake’s incredibly convincing disguise (I’m talking about the cardboard box, of course)? The exclamation marks over guards’ heads, surely? What about the long bro-mantic conversations between Snake and Otacon? Will we see meta-game (or meta-film, in this case) allusions to Blu-Ray discs and swapping controller ports? Pretty unlikely, don’t you think? Let’s just hope it’s not a generic action flick. We can go see The Expendables 3 instead and hope that Kurt Russell (the original Snake) changes his mind about doing an ensemble film.