As far as video games ready for a feature film adaptation, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series seems to be at the top of the list. But the company’s creative director Neil Druckmann doesn’t want a direct adaptation of any one chapter of the franchise. Instead, Druckmann says he’s looking forward to the planned origin story of Nathan Drake, as will presumably be told by Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy and current MCU Spider-Man, Tom Holland.
Druckmann’s comments come as Hollywood is still searching for a true critical and financial hit to come from the world of video games. Past attempts have attracted some big names, like Michael Fassbender, Angelina Jolie, and Jake Gyllenhaal, but none have achieved the same level of success as, say, adaptations of comic books. That may be subject to change, with both Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider reboot and the Dwayne Johnson-led Rampage set to arrive in theaters this year. Given Johnson’s recent success with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the idea of him chasing down giant CGI beasts with the help of an overgrown gorilla buddy suggests it stands a chance of at least having a solid return at the box office. The potential for Tomb Raider’s success, however, comes with more of a question mark attached.
Should those movies fail to connect with critics and moviegoers, that might leave Levy’s Uncharted film as the industry’s next hope of breaking the dreaded video game curse — provided you think there even is such a thing. And while speaking with 10 Cloverfield Lane director, Dan Trachtenberg, at DICE Summit 2018, Druckmann believes the direction the film is headed is the right one. Druckmann said:
“The Uncharted movie, yeah, we’ve had some conversations with Shawn Levy. And he’s really passionate, gets it, and I think he understands where we’re at. We’ve kind of evolved our feelings towards these kind of adaptations over the years. We used to just be excited, ‘Oh, my god, movies are looking at us. There could be an Uncharted movie on the screen.’ And then as more time passes on, we’re not excited about a direct adaptation of the story we told, because we feel like we’ve already told that story very well, cinematically, so I don’t know what else you could bring to it. … [Shawn Levy] wanting to tell a different story than the main four adventures – with potentially a young Nathan Drake, that fills in the gaps – I think is a lot more interesting than trying to retell Uncharted 1, 2, 3, and 4.”
Druckmann makes a good point, as the Uncharted games weren’t praised simply for their graphics or action sequences; they often earned high marks for their storytelling. The level of writing craft on those games is part of why Nathan Drake seems like a natural fit for the big screen — because Naughty Dog has already delivered narratives that feel like they’re on par with a big summer blockbuster. And when Druckmann says, “We’ve already told that story very well” it’s difficult to argue against the point he’s making.
In addition, an Uncharted movie is already going to be facing a number of challenges, so asking that it also be a faithful retelling of a story that was already done about as well as it could be, and in a similar medium, is really stacking the deck against it. Skepticism for a young Nathan Drake film isn’t going to completely go away, but perhaps Druckmann’s points will be enough to change a few people’s minds.
Source: Neil Druckmann
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