Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds Is Visually Beautiful But Lacks in Parts [Tribeca Review]

Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds movie still of Hideo Kojima.

Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds premiered at Tribeca Festival. The documentary celebrates what many consider the first auteur video game creator to exist as he opens his own independent studio. Hideo Kojima made plenty of games over the years, the most notable being the Metal Gear Solid series. While engaging in moments with Glen Milner’s artistic direction and various artists—from directors to singers—Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds is beautiful, but there’s little revealed about Hideo aside from anecdotes from childhood.

Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds Is Visually Arresting Thanks to Direction

One moment the documentary appears standard in crisp focus. The next, it looks blurred with soft light, like a snapshot out of focus. The artistic direction fits the descriptions of Hideo Kojima. His desire to push his storytelling artistry through games speaks through the lens. It like a fresh new journey. One that complements Kojima’s embarking on new horizons with Kojima Productions and their game Death Stranding, released in 2019. It’s easy to get lost in the visuals of Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds.

As Kojima talks about his childhood as a latchkey kid, the story turns to animation. This is a medium that encompasses childhood wonder and imagination. Kojima’s vision, focus, and hope to create all his ideas made me think of Hagumi from the Honey and Clover anime. She envisions a landscape filled with boxes as she decides who to be with. The boxes represent her unrealized art, and she knows that given people’s finite existence, she cannot create all of them. That’s often a fear for any artist, and Hideo Kojima is a brilliant artist.

A Collection of People Praising Hideo

Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds movie still of Hideo Kojima.
Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds movie still. Tribeca Festival

Various interviews are an array of creators in different mediums. Here’s where, though fascinating in parts, Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds drags. With occasional gems, like Guillermo del Toro drawing parallels to Kojima’s job and a conductor guiding the musicians, there are also a lot of parts that feel repetitious in their praise. Rather than a documentary about Hideo Kojima, the film feels more like a promotional video for Kojima, his studio, and the game. Admittedly, it did make me curious to play Death Stranding.

Understandably, Kojima’s name has weight. I did laugh when Norman Reedus, who is in the game, relayed Guillermo del Toro’s call to him, adamantly telling him that when Kojima calls, say yes. It speaks to the game creator’s and Guillermo del Toro’s talent because someone tells me to say yes no matter what, and I’ll have a question or two. There is also a focus on the challenges of creating a game with such a grand vision. So despite some moments, there still is a distance from knowing Kojima as a person, not just an auteur.

Worth Watching for Fans of Kojima’s Games

There’s enough that I enjoyed, but that’s also because I’m a fan of games. For those who are not, this documentary will not inspire them to play. Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds at Tribeca Festival dazzles with direction in a fitting arthouse style and music that makes you think about Tron, so despite dull moments, it left me appreciating how much goes into creating such a vast world. Though the references to Kojima as “prophetic” because of Death Stranding’s themes of isolation right before COVID occurs made me sigh, I agree that games can connect and reach people from different backgrounds. Kojima’s games achieve that.

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