By Sarah Sinovich
The new Tom Holland movie Uncharted came out ten days ago on Feb. 18 and it was quite the cookie-cutter treasure hunt movie. This movie was based on the PlayStation video game Uncharted, so it already had a cult-following and historic storytelling records in the gaming community. The Uncharted movie has brought in big bank to the domestic box office and nears $150 million at the international box office. The big question as a consumer is whether it is worth the watch.
I think this movie is worth taking a trip out to experience in the theaters.
The movie stars Tom Holland and Mark Wallberg and is based on the popular adventure video game Uncharted that started up around 2010. This movie acts as a “prequel” for the infamous video game character Nathan “Nate” Drake and his story before where the actual games took place age-wise. In the movie version, we see a much younger version of Nate and his backstory compared to the more savage and violent version of Nate in the game. The game and movie both follow the classic treasure hunt plotline. While the game reels you in with seemingly more violent adventure, the movie reels you in with the inspirational intent to re-create the best chapters of the game. With a live-action and a lighter version of the “dangerous and criminal” action sequences, it hits the mark. The game became so popular from the famous “chapters” like Stowaway, A Rock And A Hard Place, Desperate Times, Locomotion, and Hidden In Plain Sight. These popular chapters were groundbreaking for good storytelling in PlayStation history and they put Nate in very interesting and menacing situations, which eventually led it to its film adaptation.
The movie follows a young Nate Drake (Tom Holland), Victor Sullivan (Mark Wallburg), Chloe Frazer (Sophia Taylor Ali), and briefly Sam Drake (Rudy Pankow). The first shot opens up the aesthetics of the film with Tom Holland hanging from a cargo package like in the Stowaway chapter in the third Uncharted game. We are introduced and learn in the first ten minutes that Nate’s older brother Samuel “Sam” Drake has an interest in this old historic map protected by a glass casing in a museum. This legendary map serves a bigger purpose, and Nate’s character finishes what his older brother started by using this map’s legend to find some fabled treasure.
I believe it was integral for the film to have this classic and adventurous Uncharted feel, and the movie does a good job of sticking to the original aesthetic of visuals and action from the game, especially all the hanging from ships and cargo, similar to the famous Stowaway chapter from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The movie feels respectfully similar in comparison to the game. In a side-by-side to the game, the movie has greatly executed the visual details with their creative inspiration. I found lots of objective similarities, and I enjoyed that we saw a new side of Nate Drake’s journey before he became the savage killer we know in the games.
Evidently, Uncharted also does a good job of being different. It’s really interesting to see a modern video game grow from the gaming graphics screen to the live-action big screen. I think that the prequel aspect really enhances the entertainment experience. Although people who know the game have an understanding of the characters, plot, etc. the audience is brought something completely new to the Uncharted world. I believe this is a testament and homage to how original and innovative the game was. The inspiration from the games’ quality storytelling truly translates while watching the live-action film.
One of my criticisms of the Uncharted film is that it’s undoubtedly fast-paced from a filmmaker’s objective values ie. how the film travels from shot to shot and if the dialogue matches the tone set for the film. Also, from an outsider’s perspective who did not play the game, the characters to me felt a bit underdeveloped and the relationship between Tom and Mark’s characters felt too easy from the get-go. I get that this movie at its roots is for the original fans and gamers, but from the point of view of someone who never really got to know the savage character, it’s a bit weird to follow and connect with. As a media consumer, an audience typically wants character development. While this film is more about the journey of the adventure drama, it will take you from event to event or country to country and that is what moves this film along.
Taking everything into account, it’s an entertaining film that keeps you engaged and having fun. While it feels like it might be missing a true connection, the real point of the film is its action, comedy, and adventure. It is a genre-driven film. It kept the originality of the game’s “core” close at hand and used it for further storytelling. The experience watching in the theaters was absolutely fun and worth the ticket.