Josh Trank has just been hired to direct the upcoming film adaptation of Fumito Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus. Trank’s made his directorial debut earlier this year with Chronicle, a brooding look at what would happen if a group of alienated teenagers actually got super powers. Hint: they didn’t try to save the world. Before that, Trank worked on the well-regarded The Kill Point series for SpikeTV about a group of Iraq war veterans who work together on a bank robbery in Pittsburgh.
The news comes after a wave of troubled attempts to adapt beloved games into movies, including Neill Blomkamp’s aborted Halo movie, a BioShock adaptation that’s lost two directors in the last two years, and Uncharted, which had a tumultuous romance with David O. Russell before going into a total retooling with Neil Burger.
It’s hard to imagine how a Shadow of Colossus movie would work, especially given the repetitive essence of the game. There’s not a great track record of older media forms translating newer ones in ways that don’t come across as cheap and exploitive (e.g. theatrical adaptations of movies, or movies based on television series). Part of the beauty of Colossus was its meandering pace where players could ruminate at length while following the sword beam of light to the next boss fight. Movies work best when they have provide the opposite effect, provoking players with a long string of dramatic actions that engender sympathy, dislike, or moral scandal.
Maybe Trank will figure it out. If he fails, he can at least take comfort in knowing he wasn’t the first.