Yesterday, Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts gave us an extensive movie update. Today, I want to share another part of that conversation: I asked Jordan why most video game movies suck. It’s a question that this video game fanatic and film director has thought long and hard about, and he has some thoughts on the matter.
Metal Gear Solid is one of the most promising big franchise video game properties yet to be adapted into a live-action film. Our own Ethan Anderton even listed Metal Gear Solid as one of seven video games that could end the video game movie adaptation curse. Of course, Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft were also on that list, and those didn’t end up breaking the curse.
So that brings us to the question: Why do most video game movies suck? Vogt-Roberts was quick to provide his personal opinion.
First off, he says that the problem might be related to the filmmakers who have been involved thus far.
I think that most filmmakers who have tried to adapt them…you know, much like there was not a good comic book movie for a long time. And then it took directors who had grown up with comic book influences like Sam Raimi [who] legitimately loved Spider-Man. Right? So it took guys who grew up with comic book influences and were good filmmakers to tackle that. I think that like you’ve got guys like [Dan] Trachtenberg and a handful of people like me now who are growing up having our brains rewired by Zelda and Metroid, ’cause there’s a logic to videogames. Right? There’s a language to them. And I don’t think that there’s been a wave of directors who have come up who are filmmakers who were rewired like that.
Of course, there have been some filmmakers who are notable video gamers who were not able to defeat the video game movie curse. Being someone who grew up playing and loving video games doesn’t mean you’ll make a good video game movie, just like someone who grew up watching and loving great movies might not make a great film director…but it helps.
Vogt-Roberts also says that it’s just very hard to adapt the interactive experience into a passive experience:
I think that they fundamentally don’t understand the difference between an active experience and a passive experience and how you translate a active experience into a compelling, passive experience. Because there are things that you can get away with in an active experience in a video game that would not fly in a movie in terms of storytelling, in terms of a lot of different things, in terms of characters. In terms of set pieces. There are things that, when you take [it] out the active experience, suddenly it’s not compelling anymore. Suddenly it doesn’t do anything. And so I think like that core conceit of understanding the difference between an active and a passive experience is one of the core things that people haven’t quite unlocked yet. And, you know, I think that we’re getting close, you know, we’re getting to the point where I think that there’s going to be a great one soon. And to me Metal Gear Solid is not just a great video game. Like I said I think it’s a great story. I think it’s a great story and a work of art. And a great like singular voice on this planet in terms of media. So my goal right now is to sort of work and make sure that we’re having the best version of that. So that fans and everyone can sort of experience the brilliance of [Metal Gear creator Hideo] Kojima’s work.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ new movie Kong: Skull Island hits theaters on March 10th 2017.
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