JUST SAY NO to the Shadow of the Colossus movie.
Being a huge video game and movie fan, the truth of video game film adaptation’s long history of failures is in no way lost on me. Most suck and that’s just how it is. Take Christopher Gans’ terribly misguided Silent Hill for example. The film had good intentions but its execution fell completely flat (in this case I place blame upon Roger Avary’s horrendous script). Some adaptations end up being fun diversions, like the not horrible but totally forgettable Hitman and Tomb Raider films. They’re not awful but they are also certainly not good either. Shadow of the Colossus is my favorite game of all time. There’s simply no contest in my mind. The story, the music, the subtlety, the characters, everything about the game resonated with me and completely engrossed me as not just a gamer but as a human being.
The game, while not a huge hit, found moderate success due to word of mouth and now, almost 7 years after its October 17, 2005 release date, the movie adaptation is officially on track. Signed on to direct the film is Chronicle director Josh Trank and producer Kevin Misher whose previous credits include The Rundown, Mirror Mirror and The Scorpion King. Despite this news however, this is not the first talk of a Shadow of the Colossus film. In 2009, Sony announced the adaptation with Misher producing, game creator Fumito Ueda consulting and the script being written by Street Fight: Legend of Chun-Li scribe Justin Marks. However with the new announcement of Trank being signed on to direct it has been stated there is no screenwriter or script yet so Marks is apparently out of the project (thank the stars).
So, being the die-hard, devout, borderline obsessed fan of this game that I am…how do I feel about a movie version?
That’s how I feel.
Here’s my list of reasons why Trank has Chronicle, his one film under his belt. I like Chronicle, it was okay. The story was fantastic despite the awful use of found footage perspective but Trank still showed the ability to tell a compelling story. This is a plus for sure but Trank didn’t impress me with his directing style. According to some news stories, Trank has also stated he is a big fan of the game and didn’t just get offered this job, but he actually went out after it because he wants to do it that badly. This could be a plus but I distinctly remember Christopher Gans saying he was a huge Silent Hill fan and he sought that project out too. That worked out so well. One more issue about Trank that concerns me is he is currently working on the Venom and Fantastic Four reboots. With those two huge money making projects also on his plate, how could he possibly give Shadow the time and dedication it deserves?
Also concerning me is that Sony is having to interview screenwriters. How many of these writers actually played the game? Understand its intricacies? Or how many simply need this job, read the synopsis of the game and said “good enough” and then created a pitch based on that? If Trank is as big a fan as he says he is, I’m sure he’ll have creative say-so but again I go back to Christopher Gans and the Silent Hill film. Gans was the director, supposedly a big fan, yet he still let Roger Avary’s atrocious script desecrate the screen and legacy of Silent Hill.
Shadow of the Colossus, at the end of the day, is a tragedy. It’s not “feel good” in any way shape or form. A hero’s love dies and to resurrect her he must, in essence, destroy himself to bring her back. Each Collosi he kills isn’t a monster; they’re living creatures with emotions, feelings and in a way look tragic. The game has an air of “destiny” to it. It is the main character’s destiny to be in this land and it is these Colossi’s fate to perish by his hand. How can Hollywood, who sees dollar signs more than art’s importance, truly capture this feeling? Shadow lives by the fact it’s almost a silent game with little dialogue, 4 characters total and music only used sparingly. Otherwise the land is bleak, burned, lonely and desolate. It is devoid of hope and happiness. Wander, the main character, did not come to this land for a happy ending. He came to this land for his fate, for his reckoning. Will Hollywood truly grasp this? Will they truly capture this heart and put it on the screen? Or will they fill it with exposition, extra characters and more action just so the audience isn’t bored?
Shadow of the Colossus is art. It is the centerpiece of the “games as art” debate. How could Hollywood truly respect this and pay it the due it deserves?
Just please Hollywood…leave the Colossi be. They haven’t done anything to you.