A video game adaptation that largely stays on course
Video game adaptations have generally had a bad rap over the years although there have been a few that have broken the mold. The Assassins Creed movie wasn’t bad and 2018’s Tomb Raider was okay, as, unlike others of their kind, there was some attempt to be respectful to the source material.
When it comes to bad videogame movies, the problem often lies with studios that are more interested in making money than pleasing videogame fans and cinemagoers. There seems to be the assumption that a movie based on a game will sell purely because of the IP. Sadly, this is often the case, as studios do make a lot of money from those of us who spend our hard-earned cash on cinema tickets in the vain hope that our favourite video games will be successfully brought to life on screen.
The Resident Evil movies did very well, for example, despite being awful and barely resembling the games they were based on. And Angelina Jolie’s lacklustre Lara Croft movies made a fair amount of money at the box office too.
So, what of Uncharted? This is another movie that is based on a popular videogame franchise and despite the rocky road to the screen, there has been a lot of anticipation from those who are fans of Naughty Dog’s Playstation games. Well, I am happy to say that it isn’t bad.
Uncharted plays out as a prequel to the games but it does include moments that will be familiar to anybody who has sat down with a joypad to control these characters directly. The opening cargo plane sequence, for example, is heavily inspired by a similar scene from the Uncharted 3 video game and there are enough Easter Eggs to please fans of any of the franchise titles.
Of course, if you have never played the games, it might be that you need a little backstory. Thankfully, the movie does a pretty good job of this itself as it explains the origins of the friendship between the two main characters Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). In the games, both characters explore the world in search of adventure and lost treasures and the same applies here, although their relationship is a little fractious in the movie as they are still trying to get to know one other.
When the movie was announced, there were some complaints about Holland and Wahlberg being in it, as they are a lot younger than their video game counterparts. However, their age doesn’t really matter as the movie is a prequel so there is time for them to age and grow into the roles should the movie have any sequels. And to be honest, both actors play their parts believably so game fans have little need to worry.
Still, you don’t need to have played the games to enjoy the movie. It’s a globe-trotting adventure in the vein of National Treasure and the Indiana Jones movies and there are enough action sequences, puzzle moments, and hidden mysteries for those who are fans of the genre.
As Drake, Holland is actually perfect casting as he has the acrobatic talents to pull off the parkour moves that make up some of the movie’s chase scenes. Whether he’s vaulting over walls or scrambling over crates hundreds of feet in the air, he once again proves why he was also the ideal choice to play that other action hero, Spider-Man! There is enough chemistry between him and Wahlberg to make us believe in their initially untrusting relationship and the back and forth of their banter is genuinely quite amusing.
In terms of plot, the movie details their search to find the lost gold of Magellan, a treasure trove that is rumoured to be hidden among the ancient ships of an historic expedition. It’s a quest that takes them from the catacombs of Berlin to the rooftops of Barcelona, with enough time to swing off chandeliers and hang off planes in between. Along the way, they meet up with another treasure hunter, Chloe Sullivan (Sophia Ali), who will also be recognisable to game fans. Then there’s Antonio Banderas and Tati Gabrielle who play the villains of the movie although, as their motives are thinly drawn, they never really make much of an impact.
Venom director Rubin Fleischer handles the action sequences well, especially the final sequence wherein Drake and Sully fight their enemy during an airborne pirate ship chase. He manages to keep the tone fun and light, even when the story threatens to overcomplicate itself with double-crosses and plot contrivances. To his credit, he has made a movie that will please both fans of the game and those unfamiliar with the franchise, even if it never scales the heights of the classics of the genre, such as Romancing the Stone and Raiders Of the Lost Ark.
The movie isn’t perfect but it is entertaining. And considering the fact that it’s been in development hell for years (an Uncharted movie was originally announced in 2008), it is a lot better than it could have been. It’s certainly more successful than a lot of other video game movies, largely because the director is respectful of the original source material. For this reason, Uncharted can be recommended, as for once, it’s not game over for a video game adaptation.
Verdict - 7/10