Hollywood executives simply aren’t going to change. Expectations for films based on video games are always low, and movie studios use that to lure in just enough box office success to warrant another lackluster follow-up. That’s the case with Sony Pictures and the Uncharted movie. That may sound overly negative (and dramatic) but we’ll explain in short order throughout our Uncharted movie review.
Uncharted is a highly successful video game franchise. It has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and that’s not including the remastered release just a few weeks ago. Naughty Dog, the developer of the Uncharted series, is well-known for its ability to craft a riveting story. Amy Hennig is one of the primary architects of these stories, but did Sony even look in her general direction when crafting the latest version of the Uncharted movie? All signs point to no.
Instead of getting the person involved who handled much of the story elements in the games, Sony decided to reach out to two writers who scribed the lowest-grossing films in the Transformers and Men in Black franchises. You really do fail upwards in Hollywood.
All that doom and gloom aside, Uncharted is what you make of it. If you go into the film expecting anything close to Indiana Jones or National Treasure, you’ll be severely disappointed. However, the action in Uncharted isn’t bad, and while it lacks most of the fun antics from the game (and the Nathan Fillion fan-made film), or the deep and rewarding story, there’s enough here to make a halfway decent film.
Fans of the games should note that the story in Uncharted takes a few liberties with the source material. Nothing is too badly changed, but many of the changes seem more arbitrary than functional. How Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Nathan (Tom Holland) meet, some of the time Sam (Rudy Pankow) and Nathan spend together when they’re young, and things of that nature that really don’t need to be changed, and would show a lot of respect to fans of the games if they left it untouched.
The Uncharted movie takes place before the events of the first game. We see a small glimpse at Nathan Drake’s childhood before we’re thrust forward 15 years to Nathan and Sully’s first meeting. Chloe (Sophia Ali) is utilized well during the first half of the film, but she falls off almost completely toward the end. Try as they might, Wahlberg and Holland just don’t feel like Sully and Nate, and their on-screen chemistry is shaky at best.
It’s not that Uncharted is a bad film, because it’s not. The problem is that the game series is basically Indiana Jones, but the film doesn’t even get close to the fun and adventure of that franchise. It’s treading over ground that has been done much better by Indiana Jones, National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code, and a number of other films. If you remove the Uncharted name from the film, it becomes a generic adventure movie that’s easily forgotten as soon as you leave the theater.
Some fans will enjoy the handful of nods to the gaming series, and there are bound to be people who love this film. But if we got a film with the same caliber of writing and directing as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a lot more people would be able to enjoy it. Instead, the movie will make $70 million this weekend, making Sony think it did well enough to greenlight a sequel, and we’ll be stuck in the same sunken boat three years from now. Hopefully at some point mediocrity won’t be acceptable for video game films.
Synopsis: Street-smart Nathan Drake is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan, and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Stars: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle
Runtime: 1 Hour, 56 Minutes
Releases: February 18th, 2022 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.