The Uncharted movie adaptation has had its fair share of controversy among gamers. Writer/director David O. Russell seems to be crafting a movie with little to no resemblance to the widely adored videogame series, despite sharing the name, brand, and main protagonist – to be played by Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter).
Do you remember the incredible emphasis Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves placed on family dynamic? Crime? New York gangsters? No? Well, that’s because none of those things were in the games, but they will be in the movie.
Recently, Russell talked to Slash Film about the less than happy fan reaction to his interpretation of Sony’s beloved franchise.
With regard to the question of his knowledge of the games, Russell said:
“My son plays most of the games in our house, and I will play them with him but I’m not hardcore. I’m not going to present myself as hardcore. But I played the game a bunch of times and I also read as much as I could about the game and I met the game’s creator, Amy Hennig, who’s really cool. I started to brew together what I thought could be a really cool idea that I’d never seen in a film before. Really intense action and really intense family dynamics on a global stage. To grow a game into a movie is an interesting proposition because a game is a very different experience than a movie. You guys are playing the game, and it’s about playing the game. It’s not about a narrative embracing you emotionally. You know what I’m saying? So, I want to create a world that is worthy of a really great film that people want to watch and rewatch, so that’s what I’m working on right now.”
First of all, I take issue with the idea that videogame narratives aren’t about embracing the player emotionally. Sure, most games aren’t. Hell, most movies aren’t. But the very best games, in my opinion, are absolutely about narrative embracing a player emotionally. The best games – Half-Life 2, Mass Effect, Beyond Good and Evil, Grim Fandango, et cetera – immerse the player into a fully-developed world with fully-developed characters and a fully-developed story. They make you want to laugh, cry, scream, and high-five whomever’s nearest. But again, that’s just my opinion.
Referring to the video of the Uncharted fan who approached him and personally suggested Nathan Fillion portray Nathan Drake, Russell said:
“Well, I’ve had people come up to me after screenings and pitch people they think should play the roles and I think we’ve seen that before with movies like Interview with the Vampire where there was a lot of fans of Anne Rice’s book and there were a lot of strong opinions about how to make it.”
Oh yes, we all recall the great Interview with the Vampire fan-casting debacle of ’94. Like it was yesterday! Russell went on to describe the balance between filmmaking and fan-service:
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m very respectful as far as the core content and spirit of the game, but beyond that it’s my job as a filmmaker to make what I think is going to be an amazing movie. People have to trust that and let that go, I think. There’s not a bunch of movies you can point to that are made from games that are amazing movies, that stand up to time as a franchise or as [individual films]. I personally think it’s really cool when you see that someone like Darren Aronofsky is going to make an X-Men movie or to get someone such as myself to make this picture. You can be guaranteed that it’s going to be real, it’s going to be raw, it’s going to be intense, it’s going to be original, and it’s going to be propulsive. And those are all the things that I want when I go to watch a movie like that.”
Jokes aside, Russell does have a lot of valid points. First of all, according to the Rotten Tomatoes scale, there has never been a single “fresh” cinematic adaptation of a videogame – a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly. Secondly, as much as I love the Uncharted games, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the content of their stories (mostly because I’ve seen all of the Indiana Jones movies, thank you very much). Thirdly, there have been a number of excellent film adaptations that are vastly unlike their source material: The Wizard of Oz, The Shining, From Beyond, Psycho II, Total Recall, Batman Returns, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Starship Troopers – and the list goes on. The quality of a film rarely has anything to do with how accurately it adapted the original work.
That said, I understand the fan frustration. Why adapt something like Uncharted if you don’t care one iota about the original story? Why take the job to write and direct a movie based on a game if you’re going to write and direct a movie that is barely anything like it? It comes off as A) disrespectful toward the fans and B) a desire to exploit the brand of the games – and nothing else.
Frankly, I’m of the opinion that David O. Russell’s talent speaks for itself, especially after the Oscar-nominated The Fighter. If it were down to me, I’d say let him make whatever the movie he wants, in whatever way he wants to make it. His idea for the film – Mark Wahlberg playing an art thief in a crime family made up of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci – sounds pretty interesting, especially if it displays Russell’s trademark sense of humor. I would merely suggest that he change the name of the film to (oh, I don’t know) “Crime Family” or some such thing – if for no other reason that to avoid fan backlash
What do you think about the Uncharted adaptation? Are you willing to give a film that is completely different from the source material a chance – or, in your opinion, should it be a faithful adaptation or bust? Drop us a line in the comments.
Source: Slash Film