Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts - currently working on a film adaptation of the video game Metal Gear Solid - has an idea for a movie based on the classic Metroid series. Unfortunately, Vogt-Roberts fears that the core idea of the movie is so crazy that no film studio would ever let him make the movie the way he'd want to do it.
Adapting popular video games into movies has always yielded mixed results for Hollywood. Even the best video game movies have usually been competently made action films based in the universe of the game world, with little of the complexity of the plot of the original games. The worst video game movies have included some of the biggest bombs in cinematic history, such as the live-action Super Mario Brothers movie and many of the films of Uwe Boll.
Vogt-Roberts spoke about the difficulties of adapting video games into movies during a video interview with IGN. Toward the end of the interview, Vogt-Roberts spoke about his love of the classic game Super Metroid and how he would go about bringing it to the silver screen. Vogt-Roberts envisions an action movie with only one character (bounty hunter Samus Aran) and almost no dialogue. Vogt-Roberts explained:
"It legitimately would be [Samus] alone. It would be a little bit of her talking to herself, but like, as soon as they introduce other talking characters in those games, to me, it loses everything. You put her alone, and it's like - it's almost got a little bit more to do with the silence of the movie, like Drive? Like the quietness. And having it be a really intense mood piece, but mixed with silence."
Vogt-Roberts' belief is that the chief pitfall previous filmmakers have fallen into in adapting video games has been a failure to grasp the key differences between passive and active art forms. Part of what makes the video game experience so special to the players is the emotional response that key moments of the story provoke. It is Vogt-Roberts' contention that many filmmakers focused too heavily on the visuals and stories of the movie and trying to emulate the games' appearance or plot without thinking of the emotional core behind the games.
In the case of Metroid, Vogt-Roberts pointed to the reoccurring theme of isolation. The earliest games in the series saw Samus as one lone warrior on a hostile planet, with no one to talk to and no one to help her fight a galactic level threat to civilization as she knew it. The thrill of the game was based around that sensation and the paranoia inspired by the knowledge that anything might jump out at you with hostile intent at any moment. The same themes were explored in the classic movie Aliens, which blended elements of horror and science-fiction to tremendous effect in the same way that Vogt-Roberts suggests for a Metroid movie.
While a jump-scare style horror movie set in space would be true to the spirit of Metroid, it is unlikely that Nintendo would sell off the film rights to so valuable a property for anything less than a guaranteed blockbuster, with a huge cast of big-name actors. Then again, with A Quiet Place having proven a surprise hit earlier this year, the idea of an artsy, largely silent horror movie in space might not be quite so crazy as Vogt-Roberts believes. Certainly the idea of Aliens blended with Drive is unique and suggests that the upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie will be one to watch, if only to see what Vogt-Roberts does with the concept.