A few days ago, I wrote a piece regarding the announcement of the completion of the upcoming Uncharted Movie. You can find it here.
As I wrote that piece and did additional research into games turned into movies in recent years, I found that I have a strong opinion about it. As a gamer and a huge fan of Naughty Dog, I came to ask myself ‘Do we really need an Uncharted movie?’
Then the bigger question: Do we even need VIDEO GAME movies at all? Let’s go back in time here.
Remember when Square Enix (formally known as Squaresoft at the time) released Final Fantasy Spirits Within (2001)? It got 6.4/10 on IMDB, 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 49% on Metacritic. This movie came out at a time when computer animation was being used more commonly for feature length films. Hardcore fans disliked this movie for a number of reasons, but mainly because it didn’t pay homage enough to the original series. There were no chocobos or familiar Final Fantasy lore, the characters didn’t have enough depth to them, and ALIENS? Then Square turned it around in 2006 with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which actually did better than Spirits Within because c’mon, who doesn’t want to see Cloud and Sephiroth reunite in battle in graphics that are actually GOOD!?
Putting that aside, video game movies are touchy subjects with fans as they are a total let down most of the time. The reason? Because fans spend hours, days, even months playing as characters, getting to know them, and the world they live in. We invest a part of ourselves into the story and gameplay mechanics. Games create experiences we can have with our friends that no movie can replicate because of interaction component is not there.
For production studios, the bar is set unrealistically high as they must make crucial decisions when formulating the script and plot of the story to cater to fans wants and needs. It’s like taking something that’s about 80 hours long and shrinking it down into 2.5 hour movie, or even a trilogy. Video game movies do one of two things: expand on the story with irrelevant or new characters, or create a spin off or sequel to the original literature. Another common theme is a studio may choose to animate the whole movie or do live action. By animating it to comparable or better graphics than the original game, it is considered playing it safe. Live action is a whole can of worms in itself. Touching upon the original, playable characters can even ruin a movie if not casted well.
Now back to the Uncharted Movie:
Originally, the story of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, written by Amy Hennig, was intended to follow an Indiana Jones style adventure starring a quirky, smart ass, good looking dude who likes treasure and climbing things. The way it was written was to purposely give it a Hollywood action/adventure vibe while accompanying Nate as he navigates through a jungle in South America. In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, it becomes an exhilarating experience for the player as they escape a sinking ship, going right into the desert only to fight a guy while falling out of a burning plane. These two scenes are still praised to this day by fans for also having some of the best set piece in gaming history. When Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End came out and having Druckmann take the reins on the project, the experience felt exactly like playing a movie. Tugging at the heartstrings of fans as ‘the last adventure’ and upping the graphics even more with Unreal Engine 4, the experience couldn’t have been better. The performances by gaming legends Nolan North and Troy Baker were so spot on, even their facial expressions were believable.
Most believe Nolan North is the only actor who could play Nathan Drake due to the fact that the character is based on his physical likeness (plus North practically gave birth to Drake’s character through his performance). To find someone to fill those shoes is quite difficult. With actors like Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper being considered, the expectation is that an A-List actor will be playing the role. As for Elena, Emily Rose already LOOKS like her, yet is much older than when she did Drake’s Fortune and can probably play a solid Elena in a movie adaptation of Drake’s Deception or A Thief’s End. Besides that, casting and production is just about to start, so we will all have to see.
Hopefully this movie is ‘beast’ as Joe Carnahan describes it to be.
What do you think? Do we need an Uncharted movie or were the games enough for you?
Leave a comment below.