Despite having advanced CGI technology and talented directors at the helm, films based on videogames have yet to succeed. Although the genre has improved since the days of Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat, there still hasn’t been a film that has gained universal praise from both critics and fans alike. However, having just seen Kubo and the Two Strings, I think there’s potential for a film based on The Legend of Zelda that can succeed on every level.
Whether or not you’re for a film based on The Legend of Zelda, this film is inevitable. In an era of reboots, franchises and cinematic universes, it has become a common maxim that “nothing is sacred.” The Lego Movie proved that even a film based on toy bricks can be great, and as such, a trilogy based on Tetris is already in the works. Nintendo is going to be testing the waters with a live-action film based on Detective Pikachu and if it’s done correctly, The Legend of Zelda film will be next on the chopping block.
Structurally, the film will follow in the footsteps of Kubo and the Two Strings which chronicles Kubo’s search for three pieces of armor. The film succinctly introduces the main character and his motives before proceeding to the tell the hero’s journey. Upon discovering each piece of armor, Kubo encounters a foe with a unique challenge that he must overcome in order to win. After acquiring the armor, the final act has Kubo return to protect his village from the main villain of the story.
Following suit, The Legend of Zelda film will have Link search for the three shattered pieces of the Triforce of Courage in order to defeat Ganondorf who has overtaken Hyrule using the Triforce of Power. The pieces will have been hidden by the king in the Forest Temple, Fire Temple and Water Temple with each featuring its own unique boss. After acquiring the three pieces, Link will be able to pick up the Master Sword and battle Ganondorf to take back Hyrule.
First and foremost, it is important to note that the film will not be as in depth as the videogame in terms of missions, puzzles and side quests. This film will have to be very streamlined in order to have a contained story and adequate runtime. That being said, the scale of the setting should be as expansive and epic as the worlds presented in the series.
Counteracting the grandiose scale, the plot of the film should be tight and personal. My major criticism with Kubo and the Two Strings is that it tried too hard to teach a moral through metaphors without ever establishing clear and convincing relationships between the characters. The moral of The Legend of Zelda film should not be constantly referred to in the characters’ dialogue, but rather expressed in the actions of the protagonist.
I propose that the film have a “Little Engine That Could” story. The protagonist will be a Young Link that is the shortest of the forest children. His height makes riding horses and wielding heavy weapons nearly impossible. As such, he is refused training to become a Hylian warrior. However, the princess, who has the Triforce of Wisdom, perceives Link’s potential and entrusts him to save Hyrule. Link finds the Triforce of Courage and the courage within himself to pick up the Master Sword, which can only be wielded by the greatest warrior in Hyrule.
Visually, the film should remain animated. Despite the breakthroughs in CGI, it has yet to reach a point where the artificiality is not apparent. While I would love for the film to have Laika’s stunning stop-motion animation, the visuals featured in current major console installments should suffice. I personally prefer the darker palette featured in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but the brighter, more colorful visuals of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would better fit the film’s probable lighter tone.
Most importantly, Link should remain silent. It is one of the character’s defining characteristics and therefore should not be infringed merely for the sake of convenience. Link will be similar to Max from Mad Max: Fury Road, using grunts and head shaking to communicate to other characters. Besides, Navi’s loquaciousness will more than compensate for Link’s silence.
While no film can ever replace the experience of playing a videogame, a film can tell the story of a videogame in a fresh, new manner that is both independent and true to the source material. And while the success of any film can never be guaranteed, the potential for The Legend of Zelda film is as great as the character I have envisioned for the film, and if anyone has the courage to make this film, success can be found.