Metal Gear Solid Movie: Can It Break The Duff Video Game Adaptation Streak?

With a Metal Gear Solid film being leaked/announced last year and a possible green light on a 2013 production, here are my recommendations to help it become the faithful adaptation gamers have been waiting for...
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With a Metal Gear Solid film being leaked/announced last year and a possible green light on a 2013 production, here are my recommendations to help it become the faithful adaptation gamers have been waiting for...

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A film adaptation of the seminal Metal Gear videogame series was announced at Konami’s Metal Gear 25th Anniversary event last year. While no director and cast has been named yet, Konami has announced that the film will be made in association with Columbia Pictures and will have X-Men, Iron Man and Amazing Spider-Man producer Avi Arad at the helm. There are even whispers that production will start this year.

As a massive gamer and Metal Gear Solid fan when I heard about the announcement I performed what is known as the “George Lucas response”, where a nerd scrunches his face up after hearing news that in theory should be cause for celebration, but so easily could end in disaster.

The Metal Gear series is perhaps one of the most beloved franchises in videogame history. began in 1987 with the release of Metal Gear, later followed by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake in 1990, both for the MSX2. But the iteration that first got worldwide gamer attention was the classic Metal Gear Solid for the original Playstation that got released 1998. Often regarded as the best game to ever be released on the Playstation, Metal Gear Solid would then go on to receive 3 further sequels, finishing the story with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots for the Playstation 3. Long story short, the Metal Gear Solid games are a big deal. Ron Burgundy big deal. And it means a lot to many a gamer. So I for one am terrified that it might follow in the footsteps of other videogame adaptations such as Resident Evil and Doom and completely spunk all the potential in the intellectual property up the wall.

However, ever the helpful young man that I am, here are my tips to make a Metal Gear film adaptation buck the trend of terrible videogame adaptations.

Get the casting right

Who to play seminal character Solid Snake? The main character from the Metal Gear Solid games, the legendary soldier Solid Snake is based on Kurt Russell’s character Snake Plissken from the John Carpenter classic Escape From New York. Hideo Kojima has referred to the movie frequently as an influence on his work, and in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Snake actually uses the alias "Pliskin" to hide his real identity during the game.

If Kurt Russell was younger, he’d have been a perfect Solid Snake. An early fan image knocking around had Hugh Jackman as Solid Snake and Clint Eastwood playing Old Snake. I tasked my graphic designer friend Tom Sydenham to come up with a movie poster for his dream Metal Gear Poster. He's aiming high. Hollywood should take suit.  Cast your characters well Ari, or expect internet fan rage at the first step of making this film. So help me god if Keanu Reeves so much as gets a tea making credit on this....

Metal Gear Solid Move Poster Tom Sydenham

Get a good action director.

Or put succinctly, keep Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson the hell away from this.

For years now German director Uwe Boll has been gobbling up videogame titles and creating some of the worst films of all time with them. Postal is abhorrent,  Alone in the Dark has Tara Reid cast as a archaeologist and museum curator and Bloodrayne sullied my memory of Sir Ben Kingsley, may god have mercy on his soul. (I know he’s not dead, but once you’ve seen the man who played Ghandi do THIS, it’s just easier to imagine something went horribly wrong.)

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Paul W.S Anderson is the man behind cult classic Event Horizon, but he’s also behind the two Mortal Kombat films, (the second one, Mortal Kombat Annihilation is GODAWFUL) as well as the by- the-numbers, “Hey everyone, look how hot my wife Milla Jovovich looks in SLOOOOOW MOOOOTION” Resident Evil films. (That reminds me, Len Wiseman does the same thing with Kate Beckinsale. Keep him away from this too.)

Get in someone who can shoot a good action scene. I actually think someone like Zak Synder could be perfect for a MGS film. While Sucker Punch is terrible, the man does know how to shoot a good setpiece and Watchmen was a faithful adaptation of the seminal graphic novel, translating it from page to screen admirably. Lock him in a room and tell him to play the games and he’ll give you the action you need.

For the plot, use Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The Metal Gear Solid series greatest strength and most obvious weakness is its plot.  Weighty and mature, it deals with issues such as fate, legacy, nuclear disarmament, private military companies and the effects of warfare on the solider. By way of 10ft nuclear tanks shaped like dinosaurs, clones and snipers who can photosynthesis. The plot of MGS is bonkers. And goes on. And on. When the original Metal Gear Solid was praised for being one of the first action games to make you feel like you were playing a film, by the time Metal Gear Solid 2  it became densest game plots ever with faked deaths and double crosses, virtual reality segments and switcheroos. By MGS 4 it felt like the series wanted to be a film anyway and you were just a hindrance to its 5 hours worth of cutscenes. While gamers sort of accepted this, trying to adapt over 20 hours of cutscenes could make a MGS film adaptation nigh incomprehensible to your average movie goer.

My suggestion would be to adapt the 3rd Metal Gear Solid game: Snake Eater. A prequel to the series, Snake Eater is set during the Cold War and focuses on Solid Snake’s “dad”, Naked Snake aka Big Boss (to Solid Snake is a clone using Big Boss’ genetic material). Snake Eater has perhaps the most straight forward of the MGS plots as well as a jungle setting which could give the film a Rambo meets James Bond by Escape from New York feel. In short, FREAKING AWESOME.

Easter Eggs: We want our cardboard box.

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The Metal Gear Solid games are in part so beloved by gamers because they are rammed with easter eggs and 4th wall breaking moments. A boss fight with telepath Psycho Mantis in the first game is legendary. Mantis claims to be able to read your mind and proves this by reading your memory card and checking your game progress. He’s able to predict your every move until you discover you have to use the player 2 controller port to defeat him. Players can have Solid Snake hide in a cardboard box to avoid detection by enemies.  Simple nods and winks to the series past like that and the game’s famous soundtrack will go a long way in securing the films place as a fan favourite.

Take the franchise as a high end superhero adaptation.

Simply put, the majority of videogame adaptations so far have been low budget affairs with the majority being direct to DVD abominations. Too often those behind adaptations seek to make a quick buck and ride on the name attached to the film rather than treating  fans with the respect they deserve. Not this time. If they mess up Metal Gear Solid, I’ll... well I don’t know the end to that sentence but you know what I mean. Thanks to the upward trend in quality from comic book adaptations, Hollywood now knows there’s serious money to be made from a proper adaptation of a hallowed property.  Avi Arad speaking on the MGS announced said “For many years I have fought to bring comics to theatres and videogames are the comics of today. We will take our time and tell the story with all the nuances, ideology and cautionary tales needed.” Promising statement, but I’ll wait for some official images to be released before I lower my George Lucas response.