Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Street-smart Nathan Drake is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada.
Review: I know I’m a bit late to the game with this one, but I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch this in cinemas. You see I’m a huge fan of the Uncharted video games. How big a fan you ask? (I’m pretending you asked, play along). Well I bought my PlayStation 3 just because I wanted to play Drake’s Fortune (Uncharted Part 1) and I’ve completed all four games and loved each and every one them. Long story short I saw the trailer and like most other Uncharted fans, I balked at the idea of Tom Holland (aka Spider-Man) and Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Happening) in the lead roles of Nate and Sully respectively. Still, curiosity and a free ticket (my brother paid) got the better of me and I decided to give it as unbiased a look as I could.
I came out of it asking myself two questions: is this just a fun popcorn flick and is this a good adaptation of Uncharted? The answers for me was as simple as Yes and Meh.
So I’m going to do my best to put aside my background with the games and just focus on Uncharted the Movie for a minute. As an adventure action movie it has its moments, with large action set pieces and a nice collection of varying locations that made it all feel expansive. Tom Holland is a solid choice as a younger version of Nathan Drake (and ONLY the younger version. I’m going to circle back to this so stick with me) as he brings his likeability and easy going charisma to the character. It’s also believable he’s capable of the more physically demanding aspects of the role considering his experience as our current friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler. Antonio Banderas as ruthless treasure hunter Santiago Moncada was also a welcome choice and to be fair Tati Gabrielle (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as Jo Braddock and Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy) as Chloe Frazer also deliver in their roles, even though they aren’t as well fleshed out as they could’ve been.
The movie borrows heavily from Uncharted Part 4: A Thief’s End because that’s where Naughty Dog (the creators of the Uncharted series) explored Nathan and his brother Sam’s childhood. Going so much younger with the character meant this was the storyline that worked best and for fans of the games there are a ton of Easter eggs to find and visual homages that are bound to bring a smile to your face.
Now all that glitters isn’t gold as they say, and while it’s easy to dismiss the flaws of this movie by saying “well, it IS based off a video game” that wouldn’t just be disrespectful to a game series that has won a ton of awards (not just for the gameplay but for the immersive and dynamic storytelling) but to adventure movies as a whole. The dialogue for instance is cringe in a lot of places with moments that were meant to be humorous falling flat. I honestly thought I could hear crickets between the awkward pauses that littered some of these scenes.
Then there are the characters. How does a game manage to be more lifelike than a live action movie? Well I’m blaming both the directing and the screenplay on this one. A glaring example of this for me was with the characters of Victor “Sully” Sullivan and Chloe Frazer. Mark Wahlberg isn’t a great actor at the best of times. In my opinion he’s one of those performers that needs a lot of direction to give a memorable performance. Since that’s lacking here, his version of Sully has the personality of a tomato. He’s also too young and too fit to be complaining about having to run or move something heavy. If you’re going to make Sully younger then you can’t make him talk like an old man, it’s as simple as that.
Poor Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer (introduced in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) gets the opportunity to play what amounts to a female version of Drake but with a moral compass that doesn’t always point north. A character people enjoyed so much in the game, they kept bringing her back in future adventures and she even had her own spinoff of sorts. Here she’s nothing more than a side character with a bit more dialogue than most and she even disappears for the finale because I don’t think they knew what else to do with her!
Then of course we have poor Tom Holland as our main hero. Nathan Drake is a smooth-talking, quick thinking thief/treasure hunter with a heart of gold. He’s a man with years of experience under his belt from being raised in an orphanage and living by his wits on the streets until one day he was lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) in meeting the similarly charismatic and a bit smarmy, Sully. The skill set he has isn’t something you luck into or can be taught in school. Nope, it takes years and YEARS to get that good. So you tell me how exactly does a 20-something year old learn how to shoot guns, sword fight, drive boats, memorise treasure maps and historical information all while tending bar for a living?! Yeah, I don’t know about you but I’m not buying into this, I don’t care how cute Holland is, he does not work as Nathan Drake!
As video game adaptations goes it isn’t a horrible one, not even close really. And for those who have never played the games I can totally see them genuinely enjoying this movie. But for those of us who have been along on the adventures of Nate and Sully in those video games, those of us who know how richly detailed, immersive and emotionally fulfilling the Uncharted world can be, this movie will feel like nothing more than a soulless imitation.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
So have you seen Uncharted? How would you rate it? And you can check out more great film reviews below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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