In a month’s time, the much-awaited Uncharted movie arrives in theatres, bringing to life another game adaptation. Any time a video game movie is in the works, fans and critics are now skeptical about the final product. They have similar reservations about Tom Holland’s portrayal of Nathan Drake and whether the upcoming film will be able to do justice to the extremely popular Uncharted game franchise.
Multiple trailers, official stills and an exclusive scene from the Uncharted film have been released, pitting Holland’s Drake and Mark Wahlberg’s Victor Sullivan against various enemies. All the footage has received mixed reactions from fans, with many not seemingly pleased with the casting. Despite that, the popularity of the Uncharted games and its rather large fan following gives the upcoming film a good shot at breaking the video game movie curse.
There have been some very disappointing game adaptations in the past, leaving fans wondering why the production studios even attempted to make a live-action version of certain games. But, despite being inadequate adaptations of the games, many films end up earning a lot of money at the box office, which encourages more adaptations to be imagined.
For a lot of the adaptations, the team involved could possibly not have been passionate about the games themselves, and instead focused on the popularity surrounding them. The aim was to create an adaption for the sake of earning a spot on the box office, not for the purpose of creating a live-action project that stayed true to the content of the original game. For this reason, many of the game adaptations are lacking in terms of plot and details.
The issue that many of the game adaptations face is that of a lack of originality. When adapting a game for film or a television series, the writers have a chance to take the plot from the original games and add their own take to enhance the storyline. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to mold the story, the game adaptations often turn into a bland narrative that is either no way close to the original plot or a condensed version of the story that entirely misses the point.
Another issue arises when game adaptations try to replicate certain scenes from the games. The animation in the games makes it easy to create a variety of stunts, which may not necessarily be possible to recreate in the live-action version. Despite the advanced technology and CGI, there are still certain limitations when it comes to creating a live-action project, as compared to an animation, which results in subpar scene replication that leaves fans feeling underwhelmed.
A fundamental difference between the games and adaptations is the medium. It is important to keep in mind that games are a more active form of entertainment, with the players entirely involved in the decision-making process. Whether it is Uncharted, The Last of Us, or God of War, players have certain tasks that need to be completed in order to complete missions. Granted there is a script involved, gamers get to choose the pace at which the story is revealed, and sometimes their actions even change the plot, with multiple endings being programmed into a game.
Many of the role-playing games are created in a linear format, which includes the Uncharted franchise. Players have to solve puzzles and get through obstacles to progress in the game and get to the big reveal at the end. The process of trying and failing at multiple missions is what makes the whole process fun and the ending worth it. However, considering the games follow a certain set of rules, they won’t necessarily make for a good adaptation. Watching a character jump through hoops and find a hidden treasure will not be as satisfying an experience as playing through it.
Many of the adaptations that have been created so far have been of extremely popular game franchises, including Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, and Tomb Raider, among others. When producing a live-action version of any of these games, the production studios are already aware of their popularity and rely on fans of the games to watch the films, hence playing on the nostalgia factor. It’s practically free marketing for them because fans of the game will talk about the upcoming project in social gatherings or online, and any publicity is good publicity.
This factor would obviously work in the case of Uncharted as well, as the game franchise has been one of the most popular ones on the PlayStation. The series has sold over 41 million copies since Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was released for the PS3 in 2007. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End alone has sold over 15 million copies, and was the highest-rated game in the year 2016. The franchise has a solid fanbase, and even though Naughty Dog has distanced itself from the franchise, marking the end of Nathan Drake’s journey with Uncharted 4, fans are hopeful that more Uncharted games will be created in the future.
Considering the popularity of the franchise, it is already expected that a large number of people will be watching the Uncharted movie for the love of the games. But, bringing audiences to the theatres isn’t enough for a film’s success. Based on the trailer of the film, it seems like the movie will not be sticking to just one of the games, but will be largely based on the franchise and paving its own path. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the key to success is how much of the games can be adapted into the live-action version.
Recently, Sony Pictures revealed an exclusive scene from the Uncharted movie, which is almost an exact replica of the epic plane scene from Uncharted 3. Drake is seen fighting a bunch of goons on a cargo plane, and is suddenly hanging on a crate in mid-air. The two-minute scene looks absolutely fantastic and is potentially one of the highlights of the movie. To replicate a scene as difficult as that one so closely is quite promising for the film and would definitely give hope to fans of the games.
The footage so far has also managed to capture the dark tones from the games, its fast-paced action, and even Sully’s iconic mustache, something fans complained about when the first trailer and images were released. While many fans have been unhappy about Holland’s casting as Drake, after seeing him swing into action in Spider-Man: No Way Home, they are ready to give him another chance at being the action hero that Uncharted needs. It would be a difficult feat for Uncharted to break the game adaptation curse, but it seems like it has a fighting chance to do so.
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Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are interesting choices for taking on the iconic roles of Nathan Drake and Sully in the Uncharted movie adaptation.
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