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Defending Shadow of the Colossus


The ladies know I’m down with dat poon. I don’t normally do none of this blogging junk because I’m so busy rollin’ in the sweet stench of lady bits that I can’t be bothered with makin’ word jazz or thought symphonies. But a recent occurrence has lulled me out of my dungeon of sweaty booty love and that occurrence is the announcement that a Shadow of the Colossus movie is trying to happen. Naturally the first reaction would be “Oh lawdy lawdy! How dare they soil the good name of artzy gaimez oh lawdy!” That reaction of course is stupid.

Why? Because a Colossus movie sounds awe-simmy-sonny-some! I get the feeling what you picture as a Colossus movie and what I picture as a Colossus movie are two different things. You, being a cynical jerk, probably immediately get pictures in your head of films like Wrath of the Titans or junk like that. Those “Watch me yell and kill big things!” movies. And honesty, you’re not all that insane for having those thoughts! Really, you’re not! Because that might be what happens. But there’s a reason not to cry foul, there’s a way this could work, and I’m going to document it for the sight ingestion of your looking organs.

Retain the visual style

Step one first and foremost is to retain the visual style. The visual style is one of the most important things about Colossus. You and I will argue all day over whether Colossus is “art” or not but it cannot be argued that a large part of why people feel the need to call Colossus art is it’s visuals. The drab colors, exaggerated silhouettes, the muddy earthy textures of the environment, the designs of the monsters and the way when you look for miles it’s almost like staring into some kind of a bleak Edward Hopper painting. That visual artistry is crucial to a Colossus film because it’s crucial to the identity of the game. Without it you’ve already failed.

And what’s kind of cool is that that is probably the easiest thing we’ll discuss here to replicate and it is arguably the most important. Everything else in here stems from my vision of a successful adaptation of Colossus but I’m certain it’s universally agreed maintaining the visual style is key. And it can be done with a few choice practical design decisions like wardrobe and set design along with how Trank (the director) chooses to shoot the film. Or it can be done digitally with a plethora of effects. The visuals (much to the fortune of the creative teams making and implementing the decisions) can be done subtly or exaggeratedly. Really they just need to be accounted for and then well produced.

Focus on ONE Colossi

In the original PS2 game Shadow of the Colossus you are tasked with taking down 16 colossi. If in the film Shadow of the Colossus our protagonist, in the mere 1 ½ hours to 2 hours the audience will allow him, slays 16 colossi the film has failed. The number of colossi in Colossus is not what’s important. What’s important is the scale, the size and all the moments leading up to that final battle. If the protagonist slays 16 colossi in 2 hours that not only diminishes the scope of the colossi but it makes our protagonist seem far too powerful (a subject we’ll touch on in a bit). The smartest thing that Trank and Sony can do is ensure that there is only one colossus.

This isn’t just a beneficial suggestion, it’s almost necessary. What we the audience need to see is we need to see all the moments leading up to the final battle. We need to see the protagonist training, his reflective thoughts as he’s trying to revive his lover Mono, we need to understand that it is just as much about the journey into the battles as it is about the battle itself. And we need that final confrontation to be THE confrontation. One of the problems that so many films have these days is that the big confrontation is EVERY confrontation (#1 public enemy of this crime is Transformers 3).

When every confrontation is the big confrontation you lose the audience. The thrill of risk, the idea of suspense and that at this moment everything that has happened can be undone, that feeling is lost. It tires the audience and frankly it’s boring. When the protagonist goes to fight a colossus it needs to be the colossus.

Perhaps we can come in in the story after the 15th colossi is killed and we can watch a struggling protagonist try to rebuild his strength and his tact to take down this final monster. Watching him recover can communicate to the audience that the colossi are no joke and that this guy has been at it most likely for years. Maybe at this point he’s having trouble clinging onto what he was fighting for. I don’t know, I’m pitching my own movie now but you get my drift. There can only be one.

The protagonist needs to be weak and it’d be nice if he was near silent

To my knowledge (thought granted it’s been a while) the protagonist, Wander, never speaks in Shadow of the Colossus. If somehow Sony could be convinced to make this whole movie last an hour and it completely lack dialogue that would be fantastic but it’s never going to happen. So what is needed to make this film work is the next best thing: A weak protagonist. In Shadow of the Colossus it is literally you against a mountain. You’re weak as can be. You have your horse, a bow and arrow and a dagger. And you’re about to fight a friggin’ mountain. That’s kind of a big deal. The protagonist in the Colossus movie needs to reflect that. No magic spells or years of training that can make him and the colossus equals in the arena. No, there needs to be physical weakness or you’ve totally broken the narrative. That feeling the player gets in the game of beating impossible odds is missed.

And he needs to speak as little as possible. I think to some this sounds a little nitpicky but hear me out: The lack of talking is what adds to the atmosphere of desolation in Colossus. A lack of speech does more than just create a silent protagonist, it adds to the character. Because it’s not as if he can’t speak, people do speak in the video game version of Colossus. It’s that he chooses to remain silent. If he wanted to stand on the steps overlooking his lover and give a fantastical Shakespearean speech, exuding drama and passion he could. If he wanted to climb the colossus and give out a big “F--- YOU!” he totally could. He chooses not to, it isn’t in him.

At the end of the day I always saw the protagonist as being physically weak (especially compared to the colossi) and of great mental fortitude. He’s a man on a mission and he doesn’t let the mental fatigue of fighting 16 colossi get to him. He doesn’t look back, he heads into battle ready not to overpower his opponents but to outthink them. To expose their weaknesses and to tactfully use the weapons at his disposal wisely rather than with sheer force. He’s quiet and humble but not to be messed with or challenged. That’s the protagonist I think Trank needs to deliver. And finally…

A nerd is making it so maybe we’ll be fine

I don’t know about you guys but knowing Josh Trank is directing it makes me feel much better about the project. Now granted, he’s only really got Chronicle under his belt but that says so much. For one, Chronicle is very desolate and drab. In a different context sure but I think Trank gets it and he’ll do fine. Chronicle is also a story of (I’m so sorry for this) epic proportions. Here’s a big larger than life thing (superpowers) how are these chumps gonna deal with it? Flakey example? Perhaps but I’m hoping you get my point. Chronicle is also a very human story and I would hope that that means Trank won’t turn this into the aforementioned Wrath of the Titans rip-off I think so many fear this could be. And Trank is a nerd. I know it, you know it, all of Hollywood knows it. That’s why they want him to handle their nerd stuff. And while it could still bomb in spite of that there’s a glimmer of hope that Trank “gets it”. I think he might and I’m not willing to write him off just yet.

So there you have it boys and girls. That’s the byproduct of my thought juices on the Shadow of the Colossus movie. I hope I’ve turned some of you naysayers at the very least into neutral skeptics. You’ll say “Why is this a thing?” and you’ll scream “Why Hollywood, why!?” but at the end of the day the results could actually work. I’m taking the wait and see approach and I hope you will too. It’s a bit of a shocker but a Shadow of the Colossus movie actually probably has the most film potential of the video game adaptation attempts that have been tossed around as of late. It could be a thing of beauty or it could be utter crap but take off your cynical nerd hats with me for a moment and bask in the idea of a world where a Shadow of the Colossus movie is actually awesome. It’s not impossible.
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About Xzyliacone of us since 12:00 AM on 00.00.0000

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Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what I'm doin' here. There's a crapload of movies I ain't never seen but eff it 'cause I like watchin' movies and stuff. I went through a super big movie phase and I've taken 3 film analysis classes so I guess that counts for somethin'.

I'm willing to watch pretty much anything unless Ryan Reynolds is in it or at the end two women overcome differences and sing a musical number together. Traditionally movies I like are indie flicks, sci-fi, dry comedies or action movies. I really like films with a sort of natural feeling stylization to them like the old exploitation flicks or Pixar films. Movies where the style seems to be a natural byproduct of the vision for the film and where the film itself still stands on it's own two feet if you take that style away. Guys and gals whom I admire because of this are Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Miranda July (shut up), Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Christopher Nolan although there's more whose names I can't remember right now.

My other interest are the usual nerd fare. Music, video games, comics and fetishism (that's usual nerd fare, right?). Music was my first love and still very near and dear to me. Dtoiders might remember I headed up a music review blog before life clenched me in it's sexy jaws and demanded my life blood. Video games and comics are what have really influenced me a lot. The games I like pretty much reflect the films I like. Stylized and full of heart but with gameplay that, once stripped of that style, stand on it's own two feet. I'm also a big DC fanboy though I'm certainly not anti-Marvel.

My personal self isn't terribly interesting. Just a thing with dreads and an aspiring gender issues major who likes to talk shit about alternative sexualities in the context of pretty much any cultural and sociological perspective. I'm a pretty stern feminist and you might even see me go on rants on occasion but I promise I'm approachable and lighthearted on the matter.

Also, whips.

Movies I'd make love to
-Pulp Fiction
-Me and You and Everyone We Know
-The Dark Knight
-Office Space
-The Breakfast Club
-Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
-Rear Window
-The Birds
-All of the Grindhouse movies
-Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
-Black Snake Moan
-All Star Trek ever
-X-Men: First Class

Movies I'd gag
-The Matrix trilogy
-Transformers: Dark of the Moon
-Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
-All the X-Men movies but First Class
-Batman (1989)

Video games I'd pleasure
-The Mass Effect trilogy
-Bullet Witch
-Heavenly Sword
-Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3
-Super Mario World
-Half-Life 2
-SSX 3
-Halo 3: ODST
-Mortal Kombat (2011)
-Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
-Jet Grind Radio/Jet Set Radio Future
-Every Tony Hawk game not involving a stupid peripheral
-All the Rock Bands and Guitar Heros except Guitar Hero: Van Halen
-Batman: Arkham Asylum

Video games I'd punish
-The Uncharted series
-The Pokemon series
-Guitar Hero: Van Halen
-Gears of War
-Dragon Age: Origins
-Grand Theft Auto 1 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
-Red Dead Redemption

Musical artists I'd poke
-Le Tigre
-Julie Ruin
-Bikini Kill
-Cansei de ser Sexy
-Danger Doom
-The Black Keys
-De La Soul
-Wu-Tang Clan
-Led Zeppelin
-Lady GaGa
-The Cranberries
-Dolores O'Riordan
-The Dead Weather
-Laura Marling
-Minor Threat
-Dead Kennedys
-The Long Blondes
-Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
-The Runaways

Musical artists I'd prod
-Kanye West
-Avril Lavigne
-Maroon 5
-Dave Matthews Band
-Sex Pistols