Josh Trank Talks ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ Movie

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 9th, 2014 at 8:07 am,

shadow of the colossus Josh Trank Talks Shadow of the Colossus Movie

Director Josh Trank’s impressive debut feature Chronicle was a surprise hit, grossing over $126 million worldwide on a budget of less than $15 million. It launched the careers of Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and Max Landis’ screenplay delivered a unique spin on both the found-footage and superhero genres.

Hollywood snapped him up, and in short order Trank was attached to Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, Sony’s Venom spinoff, and video game adaptation Shadow of the ColossusThat is definitely a full dance-card, and while Fantastic Four will finalize its cast before this spring, Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek Into Darkness) has since taken over directing duties on Venom. As for Colossus - news on that project seemed to go quiet about a year ago, just after Hanna screenwriter Seth Lochhead signed on.

Now, Trank has opened up (a little) about Shadow of the Colossus, which evidently remains alive. In an interview with Edge-Online, which mainly focused on his views on the current state of video games, Trank offered some insight into his passion for the game and its world.

josh trank directing Josh Trank Talks Shadow of the Colossus Movie

When asked about the state of the project, Trank replied:

“I can’t talk about it, but I’ll say just one thing: I got ‘Ico’ as soon as it came out, and I just loved that game so much. I knew immediately when I read that [Team Ico was] making a new one that I wanted to go out and get it as soon as it came out, too, and it just blew me the f**k away. A couple of years later, I remember seeing in Variety that it had been optioned. I must have been 22 or something, and I just knew, ‘Oh my God, if somebody’s doing that, I have to somehow get in there and make sure it’s done the right way.’ It was one of the first calls I made after ‘Chronicle’ came out – when I realized I could make calls about things. I was like, ‘Hey, what’s going on with that?’ We’re working on it.”

And that’s basically all we’re getting on Shadow of the Colossus. Trank did say some interesting things about the influence video game narratives are having on Hollywood. When asked if movies are being directly affected, Trank said:

“No, I don’t think so. I think that games are doing their own thing. I don’t think it’s a question of better, because it’s just a different experience. A lot of big sci-fi movies – and I won’t say any particular movies – are made with an awareness of the popularity of video games, and therefore borrow so [many] of the design and visual ideas from those games. I’m like, ‘Man, that looks like “Mass Effect.” Those look like “Mass Effect” suits.’ And that is not at all original or different.

“I also feel there’s a creative drought in Hollywood right now, because most of the young guys who would come in and be the next young, big directors are all in the video game industry. I think if the game industry had been what it is now in the ’80s, a lot of those great Amblin [Entertainment] directors and people from that era would have been in games, too.

Shadow of the Colossus Scriptwriter Josh Trank Talks Shadow of the Colossus Movie

And Trank has a point.  He’s also worried about the next generation of game consoles and the changes we’ll see in their wake – and as Trank touches on, many of them will be unforeseen:

“Yeah, I’m curious. There’s this interesting implication of what kids are going to be able to do when they’re my age. Hopefully, it won’t be a dystopian sci-fi scenario. Unfortunately, I feel like it’s going to become one. When I saw this one demo for Xbox One, there was one thing that frightened me big time: these two top developers were talking about ‘Forza 5,’ and how the game is going to learn you and your driving style, and it’s going to be driving and competing for you against other people when you’re not there. That scares the s**t out of me!”

It’s been clear for at least a decade that cinematic storytelling has been taking more and more visual cues from video game spectacle. Movies based on many of the more sophisticated and critical-acclaimed games from the past half-decade have been in development for years now - Assassin’s CreedBioShock (now canceled), Uncharted (stalled for a minute, but back in business), Shadow of the Colossus.

Each game has a different visual style and method of gameplay, but when it comes to their film adaptations, the same question applies to each of them: How will their narratives work in a movie?

Shadow of the Colossus Trank Lochhead Josh Trank Talks Shadow of the Colossus Movie

We’ve already explored how thin the narrative of Shadow of the Colossus is – a young boy named Wander hunts 16 massive Colossi with trusty horse Agro in order to save his love interest, a young girl named Mono. The game contains impressive visuals, captivating landscapes, and hardly any dialogue. A feature film adaptation will require a significant expansion of what story there is, and that carries the risk of alienating fans of the game.

Trank has exactly one movie under his belt, but he really made the most of what resources he had with Chronicle, and thus the expectations are high for Fantastic Four. Can he pull it off with the scale of Shadow of the Colossus, or will the visual spectacle mask the lack of any real narrative drive?

We’re sure to find out more on the development of this as more details surface.


Fantastic Four is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on June 19th, 2015. Shadow of the Colossus is currently in development.

Source: Edge-Online

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  1. Not sure what he’s talking about with the Mass Effect body armor, but I definitely saw a resemblance between the Citadel and Elysium.

    • …just realized what he was talking about with the suits…RoboCop

      • He might have been talking about Pacific Rim? The human suits looked pretty Mass Effect-y to me.

        • Even Prometheus had some similarities, though I don’t consider that a ripoff film.

    • The similarity between Citadel and Elysium may not be because one copied the other.

      I had a Star Wars themed, non-fiction, book from the late 70′s early 80′s that talked about future of human space exploration and it illustrated the same same design for how we would be living in space.

      They suggested we would be living in such environments by the 1990′s :D And that we would soon be inhabiting Titan… which is what was suggested in Oblivion.

      • Good point. In fact, the wheel and barrel shaped biospheres have been a part of Scifi and speculative future science for a lot longer than that. Of course they usually relate to the idea of creating artificial gravity, but our own astronauts are experimenting with spinning beds in lieu of massive space station solutions to minimize bone density loss.

      • Elysium borrowed more from the directors time working on The defunct Halo movie. From Elysium itself to the spaceship/aircraft/shuttle which looked like a slightly modified Halo Pelican shuttle.

        To which no doubt Halo was inspired by previous art etc. like you guys are saying, sci-fi does tend to “recycle” ideas but unlike other genres at least (all especially for near future stuff) there is a certain logic to it as it based on predicting where our tech will be in 20,50,100 years from now.

      • It’s all based on a painting a futurist named Rick Guidice did of a space station back in the 70s.

        Elysium and Mass Effect both basically copied his material 1 for 1. Out of love, of course. The reference was lost on most of those who saw it naturally.

    • Maybe Star Trek?

    • And maybe Prometheus?

  2. Allow me to elaborate and specify on Shadow of C, having played it very recently. While the synopsis above is decent, it is both overly detailed and missing something. (Not to be rude though; I was glad to read it!)

    Character names are not tossed around much, and so it would be truer to simply say that you play as a boy who seeks to revive the corpse of a girl by entering a forbidden realm and seeking Devine assistance. For most of the game, the only spoken word is the name of the horse, which is actually “Agro”. I won’t spoil the spectacular end, but most of the dialogue occurs there in captioned foreign tongues. The soundtrack is as minimal as the land is sparse, and much as the PS2 origins show even in the HD reissue, it is hard to imagine that such a vast landscape and spectrum of colossi were possible when the game came out.

    Despite the spartan presentation, barely existent dialogue, and largely lifeless landscapes, I would argue that there is plenty of story to work with. While one strength of the game is the slow settling in of themes and moods and questions, these elements do exist very strongly, even if they do not congeal until the end. The nature of the land and colossi, the weight and consequence of your actions, the events that preceded and follow the thin narrative: all are addressed or implied. The feeling given to the player is that you have a small window into a much larger story, and even when that window gets much more involved it is clear that you are not privy to many finer points. A minimalist film of haunting beauty is begging to be made.

    Finally, I want to encourage everyone who hasn’t played the game to get the PS3 HD rerelease. It’s a tremendous landmark in gaming, and a moving piece of entertainment that is worth every effort to immerse yourself in.

    • Well spoken! I’m a huge fan of the game (the HD remaster is amazing!) and look forward to seeing how a film adaptation will turn out.

      • Thanks Jack. I’m still refighting colossi so I can eventually get the grip I need to climb the central tower. I hear the fruit is poison…

    • Do you know if it will also be available to download as a digital game for PS4?

      I ask because I had a PS2 but barely had any games for it that I liked and so didn’t hear about this game until a few years ago and now, it’s a waste of time and money buying a PS3 with the new console out and me switching my second console from an Xbox product to a Playstation one. Especially since I no longer have a PS2 to buy an old copy online.

      • I have been reading on Gamerant about Sony streaming PS3 games, but how comprehensive a list they will make available I have no idea. Being a remake may make it less of a priority, but I would think that by streaming instead of creating new, individual translation data (like the 360′s sparse “backward comparability”) the catalogue could theoretically be fairly complete. Being a Sony exclusive as well as tied to a film will hopefully make it an obvious game to make available, regardless of other issues. I hope so, because more people should get a shot at SotC.

  3. ten bucks says he casts Michael B. Jordan.

    • Hey there, big spender.

  4. I like this guy, seems aware and passionate.

  5. Does not sound that good to me, personally.

  6. I can see a Shadow Of The Colossus movie being similar to Monsters, a slow-burning, emotional film that some will claim to be boring because it doesn’t seem to move much in terms of pace but has a higher quality and – more importantly – a love of the material by those making it than most Hollywood blockbusters.

  7. I bet Trank will cast Michael B. Jordan as Wander. He seems to have a hard on for him

    • He’s needed two slightly cocky yet popular and extroverted characters in two of the movies he’s known for so far (Chronicle and FF) and Jordan has been that guy because he can pull it off with ease, much like directors looking for serious, middle aged character actors go for Christian Bale, quirky roles go to Johnny Depp.

      I don’t think he “has a hard on” for anyone, he just picks people he’s worked with before that fit the part he’s looking to fill, as any director would.

      Maybe your comment says a lot more about you than it does about Trank’s directorial abilities?

    • Towards the end of the article; “Trank has exactly one movie under his belt…”

      Yeah, real possible to have a “hard-on” for someone you only did one movie with.

      • It was supposed to be construed as sarcasm. I guess I should’ve known it wouldn’t convey very well in text. I know he’s only directed one movie so far, with one on the way, but Jordan is in both. And one he shouldn’t be

    • Yeah, he’s joining the ranks of Director/Actor super teams:
      Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter :: Tim Burton
      Michael Caine :: Christopher Nolan (And then everyone in Inception got a part in the Dark Knight Rises except for the Indian guy… cuz Nolan’s a racist… jk, Leo didn’t a part either)(also Nolan did that magic movie where Batman and Wolverine were rival magicians and then Batman banged Black Widow but Alfred never got the chance to say “roobies da size ov tan-ja-reens”)
      Leo Dicaprio :: Martin Scorcese
      And now… introducing the dynamic duo of Michael B. Jordan and Josh Trank

  8. I hope weta does the cgi work for the film, I really loved Smaug’s design.

    • +1000

      weta doing the effects for a SOTC movie?? that would be PERFECT!!!

  9. With the success of ‘All is Lost’, I really can’t see why the minimal narrative and dialogue automatically has to be expanded. One thing is for sure, is that the Colossi would have to be somewhat fewer in number, but with the right acting and directing, I really feel it could be truly gripping and explore the dilemma the protagonist is in.

    • As much as I would like to see all of them, lowering the number of colossi would make the film easier to develop. But they have to include the fun colossi from the game, like the giant bird, the flying serpent, the knight, the sea serpent… just the ones that would be eye candy to film and work with.

  10. The final Collosi in the game is like a demonic statue of liberty and very hard to beat. Falling from the head was enough to make you want to bite your controller in frustration.

    But what an awesome game! A good film? I really hope so.

    • Never had that problem, I spent a good number of hours hunting lizards and eating fruit.

  11. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week……

  12. This may very well be my favorite videogame of all time. The visuals were hauntingly beautiful, and Agro is the best/most realistic horse I’ve ever seen in a videogame.

    Also, the colossi were all amazing. If they could be brought to the big screen faithfully I would prbly die.

  13. I could see this looking really awesome (something like what the Godzilla teaser showed) or being super campy/crappy. I think the lack of detailed characters and plot from the game can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand you don’t have to stick strictly to a specific story so no one could say its not a faithful adaptation, but on the other hand you have to create personalities and back stories that’s original but still makes sense with the world created in the game. Guess its too early to speculate though…

  14. Wow… if shadow of colossus will be done i hope that all of the colossus will be shown… but i think it’ll be very difficult to form the storyline of this game.

  15. A SOTC movie will never be made. It’s one of those games that works perfectly for the video game model. If they do adapt it will probably have a severely reduced count of colossi and lose its ambience, minimalist plots. ICO seems like it’d work a lot better on a film like Pans Labyrinth meets Legend

    • I thought the same thing; Ico would work better as a film. At least you’d have two characters who could have a conversation.

  16. I really hope this movie gets made. And I hope it stays faithful to the game visual-wise. Awesome game.

  17. Am I the only one who is still devastated over the fact that the Bioschock movie has been canceled?
    *siiigh* Maybe in the far distant future.

  18. Shadow of the Colossus can be adapted to a movie with any need of more dialogs than already are in the videogame.

    There are many movies with very little dialogue and yet some of them are masterpieces.

    Videogame movie adaptations are very bad, not only because they are pretty different mediums, but mainly because directors, producers, companies, actors, et cetera, don’t know the source material enough, they don’t understand it.

    The only good adaptation is Silent Hill, and yet almost all the good from the videogame (one of the best ever) was removed or changed, like the mythology, which was replaced by witchcraft…

    Anyway, they just need to translate the videogame to a movie, not change it. It’s just like taking the playability and leaving everything else. Period.