Director: Glen Milner
Starring: Hideo Kojima, George Miller, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, Mads Mikkelsen, Troy Baker, Norman Reedus, Léa Seydoux, Shinji Mikami and Shinya Tsukamoto
Country: USA, UK
Running Time: 60 min
Year: 2024

I remember the first time I played Hideo Kojima’s PS2 video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It was a couple of years after it was released and despite being far too young to play the game or understand what it was going for narratively, the game felt like a revelation to me, who had only previously played games that didn’t prioritise narratives and instead focused on fun gameplay. With MGS2, Kojima blended both worlds together to create what I’d consider to be my favourite video game of all time. 

To say that I’m a fan of Kojima’s work would be an understatement, as I’ve played and loved the majority of the video games that he’s directed over his 30+ year tenure as a video game auteur. So when I heard the announcement that a documentary about Hideo premiered at festivals last year and was getting a digital release this year, I was beyond excited. For all of the love that I have for him as an artist, I didn’t actually know a great deal about the man behind my favourite video games. Plus, it was a Disney+ exclusive, one of the few streaming services that we pay for in my household (my sister loves The Simpsons, what can I say?) So the week it premiered, I sat down and watched the full 55 minutes (more on that in a moment) and felt many emotions, but the main ones were confusion, confliction and disappointment. 

For those unfamiliar with the work of Kojima, I don’t know if I can say this is a good starting point or not because I went into it purely as a fan of the man’s work and I’ve got to say, it’s an absolutely bizarre documentary for fans, so I can’t imagine that newcomers would fare much better. 

Directed by Glen Milner, who’s previous work includes making-of documentaries for the Gareth Edwards films Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Creator, Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds is little more than a puff piece for the ‘genius’ of Kojima, containing an impressive array of interviews from notable celebrities and collaborators, while also offering an insight into the production of his controversial 2019 video game Death Stranding (a game which I loved but polarised audiences worldwide). While this sounds promising on paper, the talking head interviews from genuinely interesting figures like George Miller, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, Mads Mikkelsen, Troy Baker, Norman Reedus, Léa Seydoux, Shinji Mikami and Shinya Tsukamoto offer little more than said people stating that “he’s a genius, he’s so amazing” without any real substance to their comments. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Kojima is a living legend and absolutely adore the man’s incredible body of work, but I was hoping for more insight and less boot-licking. 

Kojima’s contributions to the documentary are disappointingly elusive too, with him briefly diving into his introduction to the world of video games and his early life, but as soon as things start to get interesting, we return to George Miller gushing about how awesome Kojima is. Bizarrely, the person who actually has the most to say about the medium of video games and experiencing Kojima’s work was Grimes, musician and former partner of Elon Musk. She dives into what made her connect with Kojima’s games and while she’s not saying anything revolutionary, it shocked me to hear somebody talking who actually seemed like they played the art form they were discussing. 

Let’s talk about that runtime now. 55 minutes (or 60, if you want to include the credits) barely gives the documentary breathing room to discuss the subject it’s claiming to be about, and while the behind-the-scenes footage of Kojima Productions working on Death Stranding was great to see, it feels like they take up maybe 15% of the actual runtime of the documentary. So when 15% is about the making of one game in a man’s career that spans 30+ years, around 65% of it is celebrities and collaborators praising the figure of the documentary and the other 20% is the figure briefly talking about what drove him to create video games without ever going in-depth in the ways you’d hope, what does that leave the viewers with? For me, it was confusion. I can’t tell you who this documentary is made for, because those who are die-hard fans of the man’s work won’t learn much from the documentary. Those who aren’t familiar with Kojima won’t learn about anything outside of the production of Death Stranding, a blip in the man’s huge career and the Metal Gear Solid franchise is barely mentioned whatsoever. 

Part of me wonders if this was the result of ego, or just a misunderstanding of what makes a good documentary compelling. There’s virtually nothing negative said towards Kojima in the documentary, other than the fact he overworks himself and he’s a perfectionist. At one point, he’s literally referred to as a messiah which literally made my jaw drop. It’s almost commendable how little this documentary cares about diving into the subject.

If you couldn’t tell, I wasn’t a fan of Connecting Worlds, despite some interesting BTS footage during the production of Death Stranding. Seeing Kojima direct Reedus, Seydoux and Mikkelsen is the reason to check this out, but it’s nothing that wouldn’t work as a 10-minute YouTube video where you cut out the rest of the (disappointingly poor) documentary. Fans won’t get much out of this, but neither will those curious about the legacy of a man deserving of a far greater documentary than this. 

Film:

Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

Where to watch Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds
Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds
Film
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Physical media collector with a questionable taste in film.

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