I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with movies over the last few years. I grew up loving movies, before some of the realities of the world set in for me and I was too young to recognize unbearable dreck when I saw it. As I got older, it became easier to recognize when a movie was bad, and there have always been bad movies. I never considered making a bad movie a crime, however, literally or figuratively. Sometimes our ideas seem good on paper, but by the time it’s all done they just don’t seem to have the same appeal that they had in our heads, right? Over the last several years, though, Hollywood’s imagination has descended to an all time low, and this is what has me fuming. A story is a story, whether by book, film, play, oration, or any other way one can think to tell it. Movies used to tell good stories with far more frequency than they do now. These days, it seems like everything is a remake, or a reboot, or the seventeenth sequel to some horrifically childish collection of action scenes with no brain, a thin plot, and actors with little to no formal training and an entirely too visible social life. All this takes away from the integrity of the story they’re trying to tell, and in today’s impatient, scatter brained, give-it-all-to-me-right-now society, no one seems to mind much.
It breaks my heart to say that I believe much of the blame for this falls on comic books, indirectly. I’ve always thought that comics are a largely misunderstood medium, vilified by throngs of people who never took the time to realize that while yes, they are violent, and yes, there are instances in which the objectification of women is a reality, they remain, nevertheless, one of the best things a kid can read, in my opinion. Perhaps I’ll discuss why exactly that is some other day, but for now my point is that our collective fascination with the wrong parts of those stories is playing a hand in neutering good story telling in movies. You don’t need a huge budget to make a good movie any more than you need a huge budget to write a good book. But, as with anything else, once a certain amount of money gets involved, there are expectations and input from about a thousand different places, sometimes none of which care one iota about the actual story they’ve invested in. The villain in this saga is no one person in particular; instead, it’s the overhanging culture of profiteering and business-before-art that is to blame for this, I think. Most of the world’s biggest problems have no one person, no arch-criminal to find and gun down in order to be rid of them, and this one is no different.
It is for this reason that I dread the (apparently) inevitable release of the upcoming film version of Metal Gear Solid. Hollywood’s inability to treat anything with any kind of respect is almost guaranteed to ruin what I believe to be the single greatest story ever told. Okay, let’s get this out of the way now…yes, I know what I’m saying. Yes, I know it sounds blasphemous. But those of you out there who know me know how serious I am. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, all I can say to you is don’t knock it until you’ve experienced it for yourself. For me, it’s an unforgettable epic about personal accountability, free will, loyalty, and finding compassion in the most unlikely places–not to mention the brilliant (yes, brilliant) conspiracy story overtop of all that other great stuff, and it’s infused with a conscience like you wouldn’t believe. A great story, as I have always maintained, is made so by its villains, and nowhere are the villains greater than in Metal Gear. From the top on down, their motivations are complicated, their convictions are real, and even the ones who aren’t major figures in the story have beautifully written entrances–and exits–that are worthy of Shakespearean comparisons, in some cases. It features the single strongest female character I’ve ever been exposed to, one that isn’t even aware of the pervading comic book/video game culture that supposedly dictates how women are supposed to look, act, or be capable of, a true fictional rarity. I still remember where I was the day that I experienced the critical turning point in her story arc, and by extension, the most critical point in the overall story arc as well, and it was almost 10 years ago. It has many major themes, one of the best of which is its knack for condemning the follies of war while simultaneously respecting those who fight in them. It is beautiful, it is heartbreaking, it is epic, it is intelligent, and if it absolutely must be rehashed in another medium, it deserves a measure of respect as-of-yet unseen in the movie business. Of course, Hollywood is oblivious to all this, and only sees the fact that the Metal Gear franchise has made a ton of money and can easily be turned into a movie franchise, rife with sequels. Movie executives are bound to turn out a brainless action movie containing nothing more than a cheap suggestion of morality as fan service between all the ninjas and bullets flying, and that, for me, would be an almost unbearable tragedy.
Hollywood will kill The Boss in all the wrong ways, and it won’t even remember where it was when it happened.