When Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton were given the high task of revising the script for the God of War adaptation it appeared as if the project, which has been gestating for the better part of three years now, was finally gaining some traction. Working off a David Self-penned script, the Piranha 3DD duo was brought in to breathe a little more life into the popular video game’s big screen adaptation.
While we have nothing to announce as far as a new director or cast is concerned, Dunstan and Melton have provided quite a substantial update regarding how they are approaching the script. Fans of the Sony-published video game might scoff at the idea of the writers behind films like Saw IV and The Collector handling such a precious property, but the two’s take appears to be rather unique.
In its video game form, God of War follows the tale of Kratos, a Grecian warrior who turns to the god of war Ares for assistance. A byproduct of that allegiance is the destruction of Kratos’ hometown and family, which sets him on a revenge quest to kill the god. If this sounds like Clash of the Titans, that’s because in many respects the Sam Worthington-starring films borrow heavily from the game series.
Dunstan and Melton are well aware of this, citing that when original writer David Self turned in a script it was well before films like 300, Immortals, and the two Titans movies were released. Each of those films, while still borrowing from their own source material, feature similar visuals and plot points to the God of War video game. The film’s new writers were going to need to find ways to make those action scenes, which depict epic battles between Kratos and god-like figures, feel original again.
One of the key ways the writers plan to make the project stand out is with their development of the character of Kratos. In the game he’s seen as a blunt instrument, hell-bent on revenge without any concern for self-preservation. In the film, however, Dunstan and Melton wanted to ground the character; give him some back-story before setting him out on this quest.
“In the same way that Batman was grounded with Christopher Nolan’s rendition, we were attempting to do that with Kratos so that when we meet him — like they’re doing in this newest game, which is sort of a prequel to the original — we’re seeing him before he became the Ghost of Sparta, when he was just a Spartan warrior and he had family and kids.”
They plan to use (at most) the film’s first 30 minutes to establish Kratos’ family life and his humanity, before stripping all of that away. This should help audiences unfamiliar with the game series better connect with the character, and root for his success.
As well as giving Kratos an extra level of depth, the writers plan to provide the film’s key antagonist Ares (also known as the “God of War”) a more expanded role. In the game he’s only featured in a few minor cutscenes before serving as the final boss – but in a film that cannot work.
“In the game, you know, he’s immortal, and he doesn’t really do much besides raid Athens. So we’re trying to build him up a bit more, too, so that he can become a true villain.”
Die-hard fans may cry foul of the decision to alter the God of War base story, but if it helps make for a more compelling film we’re all for it. The decision to establish Kratos as a human before making him simply a big white ball of revenge could prove successful if the right context is provided, and giving his villain more screen time should help establish the stakes.
Dunstan and Melton’s enthusiasm for the project, as well, is hard to overlook. Leaving their genre of choice might give audiences pause about their suitability, but if there’s one thing they are sure to get right it’s the overly violent action.
There are still obviously more pieces that need to come together before the project can truly get off the ground — including pinning down a director — but for now we’re intrigued by where the film adaptation is headed.