David O. Russell Responds to ‘Uncharted’ Movie Fan Reactions

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 4th, 2014 at 9:56 pm,

Uncharted Movie Nathan Fillion David O. Russell Responds to Uncharted Movie Fan Reactions

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.

David O Russell leaves Uncharted Movie David O. Russell Responds to Uncharted Movie Fan Reactions

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 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 than 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

TAGS: Uncharted
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  1. “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?”

    I think this comment in particular is very unfair to the Uncharted games, and games in general. He acts as though a game cannot consist of an emotionally involving narrative, which I strongly disagree with.

    I really don’t understand how one could so blatantly miss an element of the games that’s so integral, it’s in the title: Uncharted. The Uncharted games are about adventuring into the unknown, into lost lands. How is the title even going to make sense for the movie version when it has nothing to do with the subject matter?

    • Well, simply put, he is a dumbass(sorry Vic LOL I couldn’t help it)

      • Haha, yeah, there is that possibility.

  2. It’s clear this guy couldn’t care less about us fans of the game! He is not even paying attention to the source material! If he would only take a closer look at the original story he’d know that it’s easily translated into cinema!!!

    I wonder how the “meeting” with Amy Hennig went, if there ever was one! He must have ignored her completely! She is a big promoter of Uncharted’s story and character dynamic, come on Russell it’s not that hard to lisssteeeen!!!!

    As for the change of title, I think we’ll be OK in Mexico, they always choose awful translations for movie titles 😀 So people will never know from the trailers that the movie is about Uncharted 😛

  3. Okay guys, so let’s forget about the “video game” aspect of Uncharted. Just overall, what is the franchise about?

    It’s based around Drake, a treasure finder who works with sully but is usually alone in his adventures. It’s also about Drake going into unknown/unexplored locations, looking for treasure, fighting bad guys and saving the girl. That’s what Uncharted is at the root of it.

    These are also all the things that Russell has gotten WRONG and he hasn’t even begun making the movie.

    Utter, complete, fail.

  4. NOWHERE Has Russel said he is just keeping Nathan Drake.
    Thats just how his comment are being interpreted .
    And several people here have suggested he hasent played the game .
    He says he has , but he very honestly says he is not a hardcore fan.
    I respect his honesty.
    We wont know what elements he has retained until we see the film.
    I am more then willing to give him a chance.

    • He is keeping Drake and putting him into a different context than that of the source material. So we have an actor with questionable qualities for the role in a story that has very little to do with what Uncharted is all about. That’s the element ppl are worrying about.

      And I’m sorry but I do not buy what he said about playing Uncharted several times. Complete BS. You can tell by his tone and reading between the lines that he DOES NOT play video games (but his kids do! Whoop-ti-do)

  5. He said he wasnt a hardcore Fan I took that to mean Not a hardcore of games in general .
    He has probably played the game with his son.
    the bottom line is the fans here are not hearing what they want from him so its very easy to call him a liar but that doesnt make it true.

    • Gary,

      I’m all for giving him a chance, and I was excited when he took the job. Then I heard him talk about what he’s doing with the story and the casting and it just doesn’t make sense (it makes sense financially, etc.) He’s selling out the Uncharted name in favor of profit and popularity.

      Also, your whole “liar” thing goes both ways. You don’t think he’s covering his ass and trying to please the fans by saying he actually played the game? I really don’t think he both games from beginning to finish.

  6. Ogb,
    If he was trying to decieive the fans ,
    Why doesnt he just say he LOVES the game and plays it all the time?
    He didnt say that.
    He basically said that he has played the game with his son but he is not a hardcore fan.
    What is WRONG with that?
    And I dont think he mentioned his son as a selling point,
    I think that he is saying he was introduced to the game through his son.
    If he is doing all of this for popularity I would say that it didnt work very well.
    As for profit,
    Nothing wrong with that ,its the nature of the film business.
    I think he is trying to create the strongest story possible and assemble the best cast that he can .
    Time will tell if he succeeds.
    I think that is refreshing to see a director emphasize story and casting in regards to a video game adaptation as opposed to emphasizing stunts and special effects .

    • Sorry Gary but I just don’t share your optimism and trust for Russell simply because he screwed up so much already on Uncharted. You’re right, we will wait and see how it turns out but I can’t support a movie where the director pretty much ignores and insults the fans of the source material.

  7. Ogb,Fair enough.
    And as for me ,
    I am not going to judge a work in progress before it is completed.

    • Gary, I’m usually the same way about movies (see before I speak) but Russell really struck a nerve here. Just my opinion…

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with the guys who wrote this article about what they are saying about changing the name. O Russell should write his script but two things must happen. A) Change the name of the film and B) Change the names of the characters. I would watch the film. BUT, I won’t watch it if it’s called Uncharted. Why buy the rights to something if you are not going to use anything but its names? It feels as if they just want to try and cash in on the brand, something that I think is not going to happen. Just look at the fan reaction. And, in the end, fans are a very, very large part of the people that would have seen the movie. O Russell has just ensured, over the course of talks about this film, that NOT ONE SINGLE Uncharted fan is going to see this film. My advice? Give the Uncharted rights to someone who cares abut the game and let O Russell, Wahlberg and whoever is making this film go off and do their own movie. What they want to do has nothing to do with Uncharted anyway, so why ruin the rights for someone who actually cares?

  9. I agree with the name change. I like wahlberg as an actor andthe movies he has done, but Nathan needs to be someone witty, comedic, and lovable. IMO Nathan Fillion is the best man for the job. If Russel wants to make this a god movie, he should listen to the fans and follow the game.