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Metal Gear Solid The Movie: What Could Have Been

Metal Gear Solid The Movie: What Could Have Been
By Louis Bedigian

Are we missing out on what could have been the greatest video game movie ever made?

If you’ve never heard Hideo Kojima say that he wanted to be a film director, you’d know it just by playing his games. Each Metal Gear Solid title is like a movie come to life. Kojima loves storytelling – he loves playing with camera angles and lighting and all the things that filmmakers love to tinker with.

 
Solid Snake is ready for his close-up.

When the Metal Gear Solid movie was announced three years ago, it seemed that he would finally get to put those talents to use on the big screen. Though nothing was set in stone, it was presumed that Kojima would serve as executive producer. Consequently, he wouldn’t get the hands-on control he had with his prized game franchise, but he most certainly would have had a say in some of the film’s key elements.

Sadly, the world may never know the results of this big-screen endeavor, as recent reports have indicated that the project has been shelved. 

Now we’re all left to wonder: what could have come from a movie based on a game that plays like a movie?

 
Who wouldn’t love to see this thing in IMAX!?

Bar Officially Raised

Kojima doesn’t mess around; with each PlayStation, he raised the bar on in-game cinematics, voice-overs, facial expressions, and virtual acting. The cinematography of Metal Gear Solid 4 – including the impeccable editing, movie-worthy camera angles, and the way each scene was lit and color corrected to gritty perfection – is unlike anything else out there. All this from a game that arrived only 10 years after the original.

Now stop and think for a minute: what might happen if you were to give the man behind these games an actual film camera? Or even an HD or digital camera like the RED? Kojima would have fewer boundaries because, let’s face it, as gorgeous as our current video games are, they’re still a few decades away from matching real humans. He wouldn’t merely be capable of breaking new ground with video-game flicks – he could have potentially changed the face of moviemaking as we know it.

Death Becomes Them

Metal Gear Solid was the first action game to bring us a story where no one was sacred. Any character could be evil, and any character could be killed. Though my assumptions about Meryl proved to be false (in 1998 was I convinced her death ending would be the one MGS would follow in future iterations), it’s doubtful that her – or anyone else’s – safety would have been guaranteed on the big screen. Even if Kojima chose to go back to the beginning, I can’t imagine a guy like him – someone who loves to shake things up – would keep everything we know about the series intact. There would be at least one major revelation, no question. And if the story did extend beyond the video-game’s timeline, you can be certain that more characters would perish – perhaps even Solid Snake himself.

 
Star Wars: Clone Wars has nothing on these guys.

Trailer Fun for Everyone

One of the cool things about Metal Gear Solid is that, in addition to offering dozens of scenarios that could support the big-budget action-packed trailers that every film studio demands, the series is unique enough – and has a large enough fan base – to support a side campaign made specifically for the fans. In other words, all the inside jokes and crazy antics that Kojima is known for including in his game trailers could have been used to promote the film.

An Ending with a Twist

However the Metal Gear Solid film would have ended, you can bet it would have included some kind of twist, if only in the form of a voice-over that immediately followed the credits. Just think of all the subtle plot twists and/or sequel hints that could have been thrown into the last little bits of dialogue. It would have been amazing.

Given how much Kojima loves to shift things around (making us believe one thing before revealing the truth), I hope that if the film reports aren’t exaggerated that they can at least be overturned. There would be many challenges for any studio willing to take on this project. I could only predict the nightmare that the director – even if it was Kojima himself – would go through, trying hard to balance the game world with the non-interactive restrictions of cinema. Even an experienced director like Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Memento) would have his hands full.

 

But if filmmakers would dig a little deeper, they’d see that Metal Gear Solid isn’t merely a video game – it isn’t just another cash cow. The story may be a tad convoluted (if not incomprehensible) at times, but the characters are excellent and the villains are top-notch. At a time when every comic book is getting turned into a movie, it’d be a real shame for Metal Gear Solid to get lost in the shuffle.

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