The “Metal Gear Solid” series is one of the more bizarre video game franchises in the history of the medium.
Considering how often plumbers find themselves racing giant lizards in go karts, that is saying something!
The problem with adapting any video game is in capturing the spirit of playing through the story as an active participant. It’s hard to convey this experience in a passive medium.
This is even more challenging considering that many games can take well over ten hours to play out. Getting the point across in just two or three is no small feat.
Then, there’s “Metal Gear Solid”, a series that are filled with all the weird and wonderful ideas that longtime series overseer Hideo Kojima can come up with.
Kojima has now moved on to working on a new series, the bizarre “Death Stranding”, but his legacy with “Metal Gear Solid” is one of the more intriguing stories in the history of games.
All of this being the case, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts really has his work cut out for him. Most recently, Vogt-Roberts helmed “Kong: Skull Island”, and did a pretty darn solid job.
Now, he’s working on “Metal Gear Solid”. This will likely be one of the biggest challenges of his career.
I’m willing to place my trust in Vogt-Roberts. At least on paper, he’s saying all the right things.
For example, Vogt-Roberts has made it clear that he’s going to lean into all the wacky weirdness that makes “Metal Gear Solid” so interesting:
“You know the beauty of Metal Gear and the reason I give our producers and the studio a ton of credit is because I went in and said, ‘Let’s embrace the fact that this is weird.’ Let’s embrace the fact that there are supernatural elements to this game that are horror elements to this game. Let’s embrace the fact that there are weird Japanese quirkiness and idiosyncrasies and oddities that are all framed around this very self-serious world and let’s lean into those things and let’s have it be unique and unlike anything else because it represents those things and let’s have the rest of the world fall in love with it because of that as opposed to trying to make it something else.”
This is certainly what I want to hear from a video game movie director!
The Challenges of Cultural Translation
That said, nailing the Hideo Kojima vibe is not going to be easy. As Vogt-Roberts notes, much of the game’s charm comes from its decidedly Japanese worldview. I’m a little worried about the idea of a movie adaptation that’s made by Americans, for Americans.
Vogt-Roberts has got a big job ahead of him. Theoretically, any story can make a good movie, but in practice this is easier said than done.
Regardless of what Dwayne Johnson might claim, we still have yet to see a video game movie that can be described as “good” without the addendum “for a video game movie”.
Considering the enormous shadow that the “Metal Gear” games cast, I suspect that it’s going to be very difficult for this film to actually meet fan expectations.
Nevertheless, if anyone can pull this off, it’ll be Vogt-Roberts.