How Metroid Could Be the Most Costly Yet Rewarding Experimental Film Ever

BY LON STRICKLAND

There remains an opportunity to evolve the video game/film hybrid when leveraging gamers as a target audience that has yet to be explored.

Considered more of a cult favorite when compared to the popularity of Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, Metroid still commands an inspired and loyal fan base. With talk of the new Super Mario Bros. film adaptation, speculation on more potential feature films based on Nintendo’s stable of titles are being discussed by fans and studio executives alike. In the wake of Sonic The Hedgehog’s successful venture into feature films, Nintendo surely wants a piece of the action, but there are few adaptations of video games that have worked well and a ton that haven’t. There may remain an opportunity to evolve the video game/film hybrid when leveraging gamers as a target audience that has yet to be explored.

Considered more of a cult favorite when compared to the popularity of Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, Metroid still commands an inspired and loyal fan base. With talk of the new Super Mario Bros. film adaptation, speculation on more potential feature films based on Nintendo’s stable of titles are being discussed by fans and studio executives alike. In the wake of Sonic The Hedgehog’s successful venture into feature films, Nintendo surely wants a piece of the action, but there are few adaptations of video games that have worked well and a ton that haven’t. There may remain an opportunity to evolve the video game/film hybrid when leveraging gamers as a target audience that has yet to be explored.

Harness the Atmospheric Power
In 1987, Metroid hit the shelves in America and came highly rated as a blend of sci-fi action with puzzle-solving mechanics that took gamers on a seemingly endless journey into an underground alien world. The game was a complex labyrinth that packed more atmosphere and bewilderment than you could have ever dreamed possible on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Within the confines of an 8-bit engine, the game was able to transport you into a truly strange world of alien architecture and creatures that seemed to exist in a dimension all to itself.

Those who stuck with the journey were rewarded by unveiling a narrative you never truly understand but, nevertheless, feel the impact of solely based on the set pieces and creative decision-making that was happening by the game designers. For all these reasons, some of the earliest discussions about Metroid’s adaptation into a feature film called Ridley Scott to the table. Whether Scott was ever actually developing a Metroid film or not is unclear. Still, it’s obvious when watching movies like Alien and Legend to assume he is a natural fit for the material, though some may argue the lowest hanging fruit.

Ditch the Hollywood Story
The imaginative set pieces of the original Alien feel like spiritual cousins to many of Metroid’s designs and may very well have influenced the look of the game. It may be the instincts of a studio and screenwriter to figure out a way to adapt Metroid into a tried and true Hollywood formula involving a fetching lead actress up against all odds, a riveting supporting cast of characters, and, at its heart, “it’s really love story,” or some other story mold we’ve seen countless times before.

But imagine for a moment if we reversed the approach and more or less adapted a movie into a game and back into a movie again. It’s never been done before, but perhaps Metroid is an opportunity for a feature film to be a dialogue-free rabbit hole into a mysterious alien world filled with bizarre creatures and game-inspired set pieces.

Weird Movies Can Work
A handful of films come to mind that tried something wildly different and came out on top or at least did eventually. George Lucas’s dystopian film THX 1138 from 1971 may very well have been the project that gave a major studio enough confidence to allow him to attempt his silly little Star Wars idea. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) took the world by storm for its sheer rejection of the traditional narrative, using expertly shot footage of activity all over the planet to weave a commentary on humanity’s imbalanced relationship with technology and nature. With the help of Philip Glass’s remarkable score, the film is a highly rewatchable masterpiece. The Bear from 1988 follows the trials and tribulations of an animal in nature. The movie proves studios can make millions of dollars without any humans or dialogue.

Whether mass audiences would get behind a Metroid film with no dialogue, driven entirely by bizarre set-pieces is a risky proposition. However, the brand recognition with over thirty years of nostalgia and countless sequels may be enough for a major studio to take the risk. When thinking about the original game conceived by director Satoru Okada and producer Gunpei Yokoi, it is fair to say their ambitious concept pushed the boundaries of the Nintendo Entertainment System into an alien realm of deep contemplation. Perhaps a movie version should do the same and push the medium of cinema into a true video game/movie hybrid that we have never experienced before.

SOURCE: https://movieweb.com/metroid-could-be-the-most-costly-experimental-film-ever/

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