Movie or game? Uncharted is a Tom in Nate’s clothes

Although they may seem self-satisfying, in some industries rewards can be extremely informative. Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant was awarded the elusive three Michelin stars in 2001…McDonald’s was not. Not all cheeseburgers are created equal, while a quarter pound Mcdonald’s with cheese can be beef, cheese and topper on a bun, this burger is not the same as one that can be purchased at a restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Despite using the same ingredients as the games, the Unexplored The film proves that the quality of those ingredients and the love and care put into preparing the meal can be the difference between a fine dining restaurant and a drive-thru.

To be extremely clear, Unexplored wasn’t a bad movie and sometimes it was even a good movie. Just because McDonald’s is made from lesser quality ingredients doesn’t mean I can enjoy this overly salty, cheap, crappy burger. The first three Uncharted games were directed by Amy Hennig and she undeniably left a unique impression on the series. The first three games felt much lighter than The end of a thief Where Legacy lost. By not dramatizing the relationships between the characters and instead leaning into the fantastical with the supernatural elements, Hennig’s games were able to fully realize the action-adventure tone she intended. After Hennig left Naughty Dog and Neil Druckmann took over the management of The end of a thiefthe series took on a much more serious tone.

The film clearly drew inspiration from the Neill Druckmann era of the Uncharted games, but seems to have forgotten the best elements of either era of the games. Obviously, being an action movie and a new franchise for movie audiences, director Ruben Fleischer overlooked both the supernatural fun of the Hennig era and the serious character work of the Druckmann era. These omissions make it an admittedly usable but thoroughly unremarkable action-adventure game. Similar to how the shift to a dramatic, character-driven story sucked much of the fun out of what was meant to be a fun first franchise, had the movie embraced that drama, it would have worked to the film’s detriment. Ultimately, not embracing the Hennig era of Unexplored hurt subsequent games and has now also hurt the movie.

Image: Sony

Without a shadow of a doubt, the element of the film that most closely resembles its video game counterpart is the story. An Uncharted story consists of a few key ingredients: a lost treasure involving a famous historical explorer, a wealthy villain trying to reach that treasure, an evil henchman who poses the main physical threat in the story keeping their betrayal options open, Nate and Sully with their crew of regulars, big action sets, a globe-trotting journey through exotic locations full of ancient puzzles and, depending on who’s directing, a supernatural element. Throw all those ingredients into an AI generator and it’ll probably be able to generate a decent Uncharted story and that’s exactly what the writers of the movie did.

But the film deviated from the games in several ways. While in the games Nate met Sully when he was 14 in Colombia, the film sees the two meet in New York when Nate is already an adult. The creative freedom to make an adaptation is necessary and this change both hurt and helped the film. By not reuniting Nate and Sully until Nate is already an adult, the film creates drama in a pre-existing relationship between Sully and Sam that helped further the emotional arc between Sully and Nate. On the other hand, this delayed meeting between the two main characters will always change the relationship between the two in the movies, as Sully won’t be able to be a surrogate father figure for Nate. Some of the changes made by the filmmakers have made for some interesting changes to the story, but given the critical reception so far, purists might be disappointed.

Adapting a character from one medium to another is almost always a monumental task. If a character can’t be interpreted nearly perfectly, the best option is to break away from the source material and reinterpret the character in a meaningful enough way that both feel distinct and appropriate for their medium. Landing in between feels like a poor imitation of the original character and unfortunately this is where almost every character in the Unexplored film lands. Nate looks like Tom Holland in Nathan Drake cosplay and acts like Peter Parker. Sophia Ali’s Chloe feels like the filmmakers were trying to reinvent a well-known character but failed to characterize her in any meaningful way, so my only knowledge of her personality and motivations comes from the games. The only character who manages to step out of the shadow of his virtual counterpart is Mark Wahlberg’s Sully. Wahlberg’s background as an actor allowed him to reinvent his character while preserving the essence of what makes Sully unique. In an incredible twist of events, Wahlberg’s Sully is just as much fun as the video game Sully, who is sadly the only character in the movie to talk about.

Image: Sony

One of the most obvious challenges of two-way adaptation is presented by the fact that due to their interactive nature, games have a lot more action than movies. The challenge that films face when adapted from games is the expectation of viewing the game experience on screen. While Unexplored clearly attempting to recreate the feeling of playing the games, it failed to do so consistently. The only time the film remotely captured the feeling of playing the game was during the scene in which Nate was dragged out of the cargo plane. The problem with this scene is that, much like the characters, it’s just a lesser imitation of something that’s already been done better in the game. When the movie is brave enough to step out of the comfort zone and create something again, this is when on-screen adventure is at its best. While the action pieces all felt forced and less than, the puzzles and actual treasure hunt felt like they could have been pulled straight from an Uncharted game that doesn’t exist.

In a giant shock to no one, the Unexplored a movie stuck in development hell for over a decade is no good. In fact, it’s a little shocking that the movie is at all cohesive and not a total train wreck. In a very strange way, the Unexplored The movie’s utter mediocrity in the face of a certain fate could shape the future of video game movie adaptations. After considering the challenges the production faced, the movie doesn’t even have the right to be as mediocre as it is, and that’s likely due to the cinematic quality of the game. ‘adaptation, Unexplored has all the necessary ingredients to succeed. But the end product being so bland proves that the art is more than the sum of all its parts in the same way that Gordon Ramsay’s burger is better than the one you can order from the drive-thru.

About Oscar L. Smith

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