Film Review- Exploring Charted Ground with “Uncharted”

Film Review- Exploring Charted Ground with “Uncharted”
Tom Holland stars as Nathan Drake in the big screen adaptation of the Playstation exclusive video game.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; video games will be the next source to overtake the comic book blockbuster film slate. Adapting video games to the big screen has had its problems. But with the recent positive reception to the Sonic the Hedgehog film and the brilliant final product of Werewolves Within, there finally seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel of bad video game adaptations. While the Uncharted series of video games are highly praised in responses from critics and players, will it translate to success on screen?

Raised in a fairly orthodox orphanage with his brother Sam, Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) has dreamt only of traveling the world on hair raising adventures with his brother. When events lead to Sam having to run away, Nathan is left to figure out things on his own. Years later, Nate finds himself getting by as a bartender in NYC. He supplements his income with some light pick pocket work while on the job. He hears from his brother every once in awhile in the form of simple postcards, but he hasn’t seen him since Sam went on the run. One night, when approached by a man named Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), Nathan is offered a chance to not only go on the adventure of a life time–but also the chance to reconnect with Sam.

Let’s just get right to it…putting aside any gripes aside that fans may have that Nathan Fillion or Nolan North (who voices Nathan Drake in the games) wasn’t cast for the lead role. Forgetting that people really wanted an older Sully and Nathan on the back burner. Uncharted isn’t a train wreck of a movie. Is it groundbreaking? No. Is it a work of art? No. Do a lot of plot holes exist? Yes. Do a lot of details make no sense? Yes. But, were we really expecting a jaw dropping picture?

Uncharted can feel fun at times, and nauseating at others. A lot of the action feels like a blur and could have been better presented. The big set pieces feel more like Fast and Furious ideas that were left on the writers room floor and recycled for Indian Jones. Yet, as many people would expect Uncharted to be an Indian Jones type adventure, it plays more like National Treasure Teen Championship Edition. All of these factors tend to leave the bigger aspects of the game on the back burner though.

From cameos to blink and you’ll miss ’em Naughty Dog stickers, there are plenty of hidden little treats for the game fans. But the need to make the film a 1:1 clone of the game would have been a mistake. If director Ruben Fleischer wanted to be blunt and to the point, this film would have been two hours of people hiding behind crates shooting at each other. And yes, there are scenes of people hiding behind crates and shooting at each other. Though, in needing to make Uncharted more cinematic, it had to take the road so many other movies have taken before.

Performance wise, Uncharted delivered what you expect– wise cracking individuals who you can trust one second and stab in the back, the next. There is some early quipping from Tom Holland that feels a lot more like he is back in Spider-Man form than another character, but that dissipates quickly. I’ve seen Holland come off more mature when he was even younger than when you first saw him as Spider-Man, and his turn as Nathan Drake doesn’t find a solid foothold between young rapscallion and grizzled tough guy. I will say though that this turn for Antonio Banderas as a big bad guy works a lot better than his role in The Hitman’s Cousin’s Dream Wife’s Barber.

At the end of the day, Uncharted never once thrilled me. There were no “oooohs” or “ahhhs” to be had, but it is a serviceable as a competent enough action film to keep your mind off the troubles of the real work for a couple of hours. So, sit back, relax, and just chill out.

Final Grade: C

Here’s the trailer of the film.

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