‘Uncharted’ Review: As Good As One Video Game Adaptation Allows It To Be
If you’re a fan of PlayStation’s exclusive games, then you must’ve heard of Uncharted. The owners of Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5 now as well) have been enjoying the adventures with the famous adventurer Nathan Drake since 2007, when the original game was released by Naughty Dog (you know, that game developer that also created Crash Bandicoot and The Last of Us). Since then, four main entries of the franchise have been released, and the fifth game (which was released as a standalone expansion of the fourth installment) was released in 2017. It’s not known if the video game franchise will make a return with a new installment (we hope so), but at least now we have a movie adaptation that might’ve just started a new potential movie franchise for Sony.
We live in a time when there are more video game adaptations than ever, so Uncharted seems like it’s just the next one in line, but due to the huge popularity of the games, Sony is certainly hoping to achieve better success than Warner Bros. Pictures‘ Tomb Raider movie reboot, which was released in 2018, starring Alicia Vikander. Still, considering that Tomb Raider’s sequel is also in development, and considering the setup of this first movie, Sony is definitely hoping to build a whole new movie franchise based on Uncharted.
So, after seeing the first movie, can we say that Uncharted has the chance to build a successful franchise on the big screen the same way it did on PlayStation consoles? Well, theoretically, we could. Considering that video game adaptations usually turn out underwhelming compared to games, (and make no mistake, Uncharted is no exception), this movie still manages to be as good as one video game adaptation can be.
Of course, it depends how you watch this movie, as an Uncharted veteran, or as someone who never heard of the games (although we bet that that percentage of the movie’s audience will be extremely low). Personally, we played all five games again in a preparation for the movie experience, and now we wonder if we made a movie a favor by doing that, because we almost immediately recognized what the movie tried to achieve, or we just made our experience worse because the games have maybe set our hopes for the movie too high? Turns out it was the former because the main idea of the movie is to appeal to everything we loved in the games and just transfer it to the big screen in its own way.
Spider-Man star Tom Holland is starring as Nathan Drake, and this casting was something a lot of fans talked about prior to the release of the movie. We know Nathan Drake, we know Tom Holland, but Tom Holland as Nathan Drake, even we need to admit we felt a bit of skepticism. And the same thing can be said for Mark Wahlberg as Sully. Great actor, great character, but when you put the actor and the character together, what do you get? Well, now we can answer that question. One thing that’s for sure is that both Holland and Wahlberg did all they can do, but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to live up to the names of Nathan and Sully.
In other words, Holland played Nathan Drake, but that’s just it, he played him, but he didn’t fully embrace the character of Drake. When you watch this type of movie, of course, you want to see the character and praise the actor by saying ”wow, he really is Nathan Drake”, but that cannot be said for Holland in this case. Did Holland give his best, he did, and we love him for that, but did he manage to convince us he really is Nathan Drake? He didn’t. And the same thing can be said for Wahlberg’s Sully.
If we would put this movie in the timeline of the games, it would be before set long before the events of the first game. The movie presented us with Nathan Drake who still wasn’t a veteran adventurer like he was in the games, and the film also weighted on building trust between the main characters. That actually opens up a way for further development in the potential sequels, and it’s also giving another chance for Holland to fully embrace his incarnation of Nathan Drake in the future.
Two other actors we need to mention are Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer and, of course, Antonio Banderas as the movie’s villain Santiago Moncada. We have to admit that Ali’s performance was actually quite good, or as good as it can be, given the circumstances. Unfortunately, Banderas’ talent was utterly wasted, which isn’t even his fault as much as the script’s. Although, on the other hand, we know that Uncharted villains are always one-timers, and they’re always destined to fail no matter what, the script itself made Moncada a really easy pay-check for Banderas, and not in a good way. The script mostly followed the formula, and the plot twist was pretty anticlimactic. Although the plot twist tried to present itself like something unexpected, the movie will just quickly move on.
One great thing about this movie is that it managed to visually adapt the spirit of Uncharted, at least on its surface. The locations are visually top-notch, and the atmosphere is as Uncharted as it gets. The fans of the games will be gladly reminded of some of the games’ most memorable scenes. Also, kudos to the costume designers, they really did a great job, especially with Drake’s most recognizable outfit from the games.
But the problem is — that that’s it. The movie showed us some great and very recognizable scenes from the games, but it seemed like the movie was trying to follow the formula and play it safe, which is something that isn’t really new for video game adaptations. Is this movie worth seeing? Well, if you’re an Uncharted fan, yes, there’s nothing you can lose by giving it a shot, but if you have never heard of Uncharted, there probably isn’t much in this movie you’ll appreciate here, because this movie is counting on hardcore fans to recognize all the pros, and hopes that that would be enough to hide all the cons. In the end, we can say that Uncharted is just decent. Good enough so that we can’t call it a disappointment, but also not good enough to call it thrilling. In other words, it’s a video game adaptation.
Sony is hoping to start a new movie franchise with this, and with the good box-office result, the sequel will almost definitely happen. This is also a chance to tell you that two scenes at the end are definitely setting the potential sequel up. While we wait for the box office numbers to arrive, we are hoping that the potential sequel will be better, because if the Uncharted movie franchise will follow that ”the first is always the best” cliche, we do not think there’s much to hope for.