Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts thinks his upcoming adaptation of Metal Gear Solid may be the first great video game movie for one simple reason: He understands the game’s language.
During an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit to promote Kong: Skull Island, Vogt-Roberts was asked by a fan how he was planning to handle the Metal Gear Solid film, which was first announced in 2014. As seen with Warcraft, Need for Speed, Angry Birds and other recent films, video games have been hard to translate to the big-screen. A part of that, Vogt-Roberts wrote, is because directors don’t know how to translate an interactive experience into a passive one.
“The first great video game movie needs to reconcile the fact that each game has its own language that elicits specific emotions from a player while investing an audience in a compelling cinematic narrative rooted in character,” Vogt-Roberts said. “Though many people are skeptical this can be done, the first great video game movie will silence naysayers in the same way The Lord of the Rings films completely redefined fantasy and reminded people that in film nothing stays ‘unadaptable’ for long.”
Vogt-Roberts pointed to Metal Gear Solid and its original designer, Hideo Kojima, as specific examples of what people want to see out of video game adaptations. The Metal Gear Solid games have often been referred to as interactive movies because of their long cut scenes and deep storytelling. Unfortunately, Vogt-Roberts said, people think they can just adapt a game like Metal Gear Solid directly to the screen because of that reason, but that’s not how movies work.
“What does Metal Gear make you feel?” Vogt-Roberts wrote. “What is the quiet tension of sneaking around? What is the dread you feel as you're going further and further from safety? What is the panic you feel when the alarm goes off? Those are just basic elements of the MGS formula but finding a way to recreate those feelings on screen is crucial.”
Sony first announced it was moving ahead with an adaptation of Metal Gear Solid in 2014. It’s been relatively quiet since then, but following the critical success of Kong: Skull Island, Vogt-Roberts seems ready to talk about it. He recently told Collider:
Metal Gear Solid is probably the most important franchise to me on the planet. It is such a genius, idiosyncratic work and being able to spend time with [Hideo] Kojima recently has been like a dream. He’s the best and his whole team is the best. We are working on the script. That is a property that I will fight tooth and nail to make sure is done properly because it’s so easy to screw it up and so easy for a studio to try and make it into G.I. Joe or try and make it into Mission: Impossible or try and make it into something that it’s not. Metal Gear Solid needs to be exactly what it needs to be, which is Metal Gear Solid.
There is currently no release window for the Metal Gear Solid film, but Kong: Skull Island is playing worldwide.