‘Shadow of the Colossus’ To Beat Massive Video Game Adaptation Stigma With Guillermo Del Toro Protege
Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft are no longer the only two contenders in the category of eminent video game movies that might not suck. A third possibility with some unbelievable muscle has just joined the fray. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Guillermo del Toro protege Andres Muschietti (Mama) has signed on to turn the Playstation 2 game Shadow of the Colossus into a jumbo tentpole for Sony, which includes him overseeing the script being written by Seth Lochhead.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it centers around Wander, an adventurer desperate to revive the body of a slain maiden, for some reason (the details are kept intentionally vague). To do so, he must horseback his way across a vast fantasy world, tracking a teeny glint of light reflected from his sword. When he arrives at wherever the light was pointing to, a Godzilla-sized kaiju conveniently unburies itself from the earth.
Bringing down the kaiju (or “Colossi,” as they’re called in the game) is the object of the game. You’re one guy with nothing but a horse, a sword and a bow, but the game repeatedly plops you in front of a monster whose toenails are the size of school buses and says, “Kill this, please.” Usually, that involves hanging on to patches of fur and using scales as stepping stones up its body, dodging the beast’s frequent attempts to pluck you off like an ant until you can bury your sword into an unprotected spot on its head.
Last year, the feature-length Mama, which del Toro had Muschietti adapt from his own short, was released to reasonable acclaim. Ever since, the young filmmaker has been passed around the studio system like a prison newbie. First, Universal threw him into Bird Box, then they abandoned that so he could direct their reboot of The Mummy. But Muschietti wanted a Mummy who was all grim and spooky and the studio wanted him to appeal to all ages, so the two mutually decided to see other people.
Sony suffered a similar fallback with Colossus, initially signing Josh Trank to take on the video game pic. Unfortunately, his schedule is so overrun with superheroes and Jedi knights that they’ve now moved on to Muschietti.
Mama proved Muschietti has visual panache and the ability to craft an ethereal yet still freaky monster. This will serve him well with Colossus. But his screenplay for that movie, with its many gaps in logic and coherence, offers less promise. Luckily, Sony also swapped out screenwriters when they picked him for the project. Originally, Justin Marks was writing the pic, but Muschietti’s arrival brought in Lochhead instead. Marks’s claim to screenwriting fame is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Lee. Lochhead’s is Joe Wright’s Hanna. No offense to Marks, but that’s definitely an upgrade.
It’s an upgrade Colossus needs, as this is one of the few big-budget games in existence to play with the medium in an intelligent way. The game sets you on an intentionally bare-bones “kill the monster, save the princess story,” then patiently hints to you that maybe stabbing these mythical beasts in the brain isn’t really the “good guy” way of doing things. But it’s a game, and the only way you can continue is to kill, kill, kill. It’s a clever conflict of interest.
In a perfect world, Muschietti and Lochhead deliver us a Pacific Rim that trades a modern setting for a fantasy one and Guillermo del Toro’s action figure fetish for quiet kaiju thoughtfulness. Are we in that perfect world, or are we in one of its parallel universes where Shadow of the Colossus is just another video game movie suckfest? We’ll find out soon enough.
Related Topics: Guillermo del Toro