Two Uncharted Virgins Go See What All The Fuss Is About

My partner, Hoot, and I have an amazing group of friends who we met through our mutual love of Nolan North. For us two Xbox and PC geeks, that love came from Nolan's performances in Assassin's Creed, Destiny, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Con Man. But for most of our other friends, that love first came from Uncharted. 

When all your friends assume that Uncharted is something everyone "just knows," there's a twinge of that old childhood feeling of being an outcast. So, three years ago, I got a PlayStation 4 Pro and grabbed the Nathan Drake Collection to see what all the fuss is about. I got about two thirds into the first game (Drake's Fortune)… and then stopped. I felt like I was just playing my beloved Assassin's Creed, but with a different premise, a different controller, and a less compelling backstory. I just wasn't feeling all the hype that my friends felt. I'd rather be organizing my sock drawer than making the 30th attempt to drive that fucking Jet Ski through a firing range on Easy mode! So I took a break from it and went back to games I was enjoying more.

I apparently wasn't alone in my frustrations. I found this screenshot in an article about bad levels in gaming history.

Not long after that, the Uncharted movie was announced with Mark Wahlberg, who I have adored for years, and Tom Holland, who turns everything into gold these days. I knew I was going to watch this movie because they were in it. But I also knew my opinions of the film would probably be very different from our Uncharted nerd friends.

Hoot and I saw the movie late on opening weekend knowing or remembering very little about the characters and their game stories. Unlike the game, I got through all of it and loved it! It's a lot of fun! It had a good pace, fun dialog, good chemistry between the protagonists (Nate and Sully), and action sequences that hit all the right notes. Plus, after seeing Pilou Asbæk playing another baddie in the post-credit scene, I was on-board for another chapter! 

That said, Hoot and I talked a lot about the film's obvious head-scratchers when it comes to basic physics. That backpack full of gold, even if it was a small 10-liter pack, would weigh around 425 pounds! (Damn, Sully must be ripped!) And whose hair looks that good two minutes after you've been drowning? (Chloe clearly has magic hair.) But when we let go of those little reality breaks, it's an enjoyable ride start to finish!

Nolan North and Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted

Favorite moment? Nolan's cameo, of course! Perfection! I think some folks next to us in the theater recognized him, too.

Nate and Sully were the only characters I remembered from the short time playing that first game, plus Elena who wasn't in this film. I loved seeing this story of how Nate and Sully came to know each other and work together. I bought every second of their story and really enjoyed their dialog. Knowing their backstory now honestly makes me want to go back and at least finish the stories in the games (or just find all the cutscenes on YouTube).

So yeah, Uncharted is a fun film that's on par with classic adventures from my childhood like the first three Indiana Jones films and The Goonies. And if you didn't get the obvious tributes to those films, you were probably too busy looking for all the game references, instead. 

For perspectives from some long-time Uncharted fans, check out what Lily K and Maria Kinnun said about the film.

Any fellow Uncharted game virgins or near-virgins out there? What did YOU think of the Uncharted movie?

Uncharted Deserves A Better Movie And So Do We

Now that the dust has settled from Nathan Drake destroying ancient discoveries around the world in the latest Uncharted movie, I have some thoughts and opinions on this newest entry into the franchise. 

Now I am a BIG fan of the games. When I heard this movie was in development, well, I…rolled my eyes. Video game movies are notorious for being mediocre cash grabs at established franchises. They often end up taking a big name and compressing them in bite-sized, easy-to-digest, forgettable popcorn movies. With a game as narratively epic as Uncharted, the standard was high. As I think more about this, there was already an amazing story in place with deep characters established. All you needed was the right casting and real love for the franchise to bring all that to our screens. A short fan-made Uncharted movie starring Nathan Fillion managed to capture the feel of the games in 15 minutes and sent the fanbase wanting THAT movie. And why? Because it felt like Uncharted. For me, this movie did not. 

Without the branding, the Uncharted movie could have been The Mummy Begins Again or Indiana Jones: The Baby Faced years. I read advice to not compare the movie to the games. To take a step back from the games and go into this movie with no expectations. I tried that, but it didn’t feel right. This is the franchise I love, and I wanted to be invested in every detail. I tried to not compare the movie to the games, but it felt impossible. It’s a movie made from the game, just like the Harry Potter movies were made from novels. I wanted to see this movie because it was Uncharted. Because it was an extension of the franchise I love. 

I don’t feel like it's fair for the fans to have to forget the games to enjoy a movie made from those games. Without the fans' making these games a HUGE global success, these games wouldn’t be considered for movies. Honestly, if too much fan knowledge will ruin a movie, then the movie doesn’t have the fans’ best interests at heart. 

Is that Sully and Nate on an adventure?

The Uncharted movie added enough references taken directly from the games to remind us that this was Uncharted but left out or changed enough to make it a different thing under the same name. Character origins and how they met were altered as well as the timeline for some of the events. Some of Nate’s backstory was changed as well as the story of how Sully and Nate came to be. Sully’s partnership with Nate felt more like a buddy cop movie than the iconic father and son dynamic. I understand their relationship has room to develop in possible sequels. Still, I honestly feel the road with these two will stay the same with constant back and forth banter to keep the comedy going. I felt Chloe was downgraded from her savvy, independent, and hardheaded demeanor to more of an opportunistic sidekick. Nate was okay, although I felt he kinda became Tom Holland. This isn’t terrible as Tom Holland is a very likable character. But I still wasn’t entirely convinced that he was Nathan Drake. 

The movie lacked depth. Characters never really delved into their new backstories. There were no extended treks to get to places detached from civilization. You know, to places that are Uncharted. There was no real deep dive into history, with Nate adorably geeking over a discovery or the feeling that the treasure was hidden anywhere but an easily reachable location. 

Overall, the actors gave energetic performances but they never really evolved to embody the characters. Instead, I felt the characters were adapted too much to suit the actors, and we lost a lot of the character’s identities in the process. 

Uncharted felt more like a kids' family movie with balls to the wall action and minimal violence and risk. It was wholely focused on fun, fun, fun! With a lot of over-the-top, crazy action that was very Uncharted! I felt the movie relied too much on the jokes that kept the movie light but removed the sense that the team was ever in any real danger. Uncharted (the game) has its naturally funny moments with snarkiness to keep the mood upbeat. Still, Uncharted is a grown-up story about the characters and their conflicts between finding fortune and what it risks. 

Perhaps some of the characteristics of Uncharted were lost because they chose to take the direction of a younger Nate learning the ropes. I’m okay with this angle, but I fear Nate will always be portrayed as the bumbling youngster in this movie series. While this is cute and endearing, that is not the character Nate is. Nate is smart, cunning, streetwise, and full of snark. I know movie Nate has room to grow in sequels into this tougher version, but I feel the movies will just maintain the way in over his head direction for the entertainment value. I also fear that we aren’t going to see that beautiful grown-up relationship between Nate and Elena that was the cornerstone of the franchise. If we do, it's going to be cute young love full of jokes and one-liners. Not the badass, straight-talking Elena telling Nate to get his shit together.

Maybe Uncharted is just one of those games that is just too big for a 2-hour film. I definitely don’t want a one-on-one recreation of the game but a movie that felt more faithful to the franchise. A movie a little more grown-up and slowed-down like an Indiana Jones or Goonies focusing more on the characters and adventure instead of fast-paced action! I understand the movie was a new take on the story and a step to bring Uncharted to a new audience, but if you remove the things that gave the franchise its character, you are removing its heart and leaving it empty.

Maybe video game to TV show adaptation is the way to go now with fewer restrictions on time so the story can be fleshed out and told to the depth it needs to be. The new Halo and the HBO The Last of Us are certainly looking more promising. Maybe Uncharted might be better as a TV series? 

Going to places Uncharted

As far as video game adaptations go, Uncharted was one of the better ones I have seen. I don’t in any way feel like the movie shouldn’t have been made. It is an entertaining, action packed, fun to watch movie that may shed light on the franchise and bring new fans to the games. I appreciated the nods to the games and the little Easter Eggs but unfortunately, I don’t feel like the movie did the games series justice. Like many other video game adaptations movies, I felt the Uncharted movie adapted too much to accommodate a newer audience but failed to capture the heart of the franchise that the fans of the games love. Maybe sequels will show me otherwise.

Yes, I am biased. My refusal to separate the games from the movie was probably my downfall. But my conflict is just a testament to how much I love this series and how much love and respect I have for the amazing cast and crew behind the games. I feel Uncharted deserved better. That being said, the movie is good. Go see it and have fun! The games, on the other hand, are legendary and are still number one in my heart.

What did you think of the Uncharted movie? An epic addition or misadventure? Let us know down below.

Well, Well, Well, The Uncharted Movie Has Arrived and It's… Alright?

As a massive Uncharted fan, the day they announced the movie, I immediately went into panic mode. Why? Well, let’s be honest here. There aren’t many actually GOOD video game movies out there.  So the fact that the people behind this film wanted to turn these already incredibly cinematic games into movies that were basically very long films by themselves—it definitely scared me. How will they translate more than 20 hours long game runs? Who will they cast? Which game will they adapt? I mean, there are 4 main Uncharted games about Nathan Drake out there.

Now that we have all the answers to all these questions, it's time to review the final result that seems to be dividing critics and fans as the movie has a 39% Rotten Tomatoes score from the critics but a high 90% from the fans. Who’s right? Warning, this is going to be a treasure trove of SPOILERS! 

I have to go all the way back to the marketing campaign. It was brilliant, and it definitely helped me adjust my expectations. The behind-the-scenes look with Neil Druckmann and Tom Holland talking about the movie’s take on the game was key. They assured us that this is their own spin on the story of the games, and we won’t be getting a word-for-word adaptation. That helped me keep an open mind about the film. Adding to that was Nolan North’s honest support from the beginning: if Nathan Drake himself says it’s gonna be good, you should listen to the man. 

And here’s the thing… It is a really fun ride from beginning to end.

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake

It was a great choice not to adapt one specific story from the games but, instead, put together their own origin story for Holland’s Drake. I'm also a hardcore fan of seeing familiar things referenced in new stories, like the orphanage from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End along with Sam and Nate’s beginnings. Even though I originally hated that Mark Wahlberg’s Sully didn’t have a mustache, the feeling disappeared pretty quickly, seeing the chemistry between him and Tom Holland is one of the bright spots of the film.

Hold up! Before I get too deep into the good stuff, let me do a run-through of things that weren’t great at all. And I will start with the one that bothers me immensely. 

Here's what I didn't like in the movie. 

Chloe Frazer. It wasn’t her. Simple as that. No hate towards the actress at all (Sophia Ali) who tried her best, but this role definitely wasn’t for her. What annoyed me the most is that they downgraded Chloe’s character (and Sully’s for that matter) in order to make Nate appear smarter. In the game franchise, Chloe is just as knowledgeable as Nate. In this film, though, she barely adds anything to the actual treasure hunt. She feels like a tag along character, it’s always Nate who figures things out, there’s only one or two instances where she adds anything to solve the puzzle and it’s the tiniest bit. She was there, sure. She did things, yes.

But it was nowhere near to the badass, smart, witty, great con artist she is in the games. I missed her remarks towards Nate. She radiated confidence in the games, but here I didn’t feel any of that. Most importantly she didn’t have any chemistry at all with Nate or Sully. As much as you could feel it between Wahlberg and Holland it was basically non-existent between her and the others. The only thing that really felt like the Chloe we have come to love from the games is her ability to play both sides of the conflict for her personal gain. She's a chaotic neutral character so it's great to see that come to life in the film as well. 

Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer

Chloe is one of my all-time favorite video game characters, and I’ve found my way into cosplaying through that character. Therefore not really seeing the tiniest bit of resemblance (even in the clothes or hair like they did with Nate) was very disappointing. Moving forward, the writers need to really flesh her out more when it comes to her in possible future films for me to be able to say ‘Yes, this is it.’ But, to be fully honest, based on this movie I also don’t think that Sophia Ali can bring the whole energy and aura that Chloe has.

The "enemies" of the story, Antonio Banderas’ Santiago Moncada and Tati Gabrielle’s Braddock, were both incredibly underdeveloped, probably because of the small amount of time they had to fit them in. This is another disadvantage that watching a movie has compared to playing a game. All the villainous characters from the games were memorable, but not just because they were formidable (Braddock in the movie), but also because we had the time to get to know their motives and them a lot better. The backstory to the Moncada family could be fully left out in this film and it wouldn’t affect anything in the story. In fact, his whole character could be scrapped out entirely streamlining the runtime and giving the more interesting villain more screen time. Speaking of, the character Braddock is giving off some serious Nadine Ross vibes (a mercenary in Uncharted 4). Her introduction in the film has similarities to Nadine’s story arc in the fourth game and even her position as a mercenary leader. But we barely got to know her at all. Although they hinted at her connection to Sully multiple times it was never entirely clear what happened between them.

Now back to the good things. 

First up: Nathan Drake. I can say with a big smile on my face that Tom Holland was an excellent choice. It is so obvious throughout the entire movie that he loves playing Nate, and that warmed my heart. During the fight scenes or when they are on the actual treasure hunt itself, you could just feel it on his every move and the way his face lit up. I loved how they built him up from a petty thief to the treasure hunter who we all love so much. Smart-mouth all around, a bit clumsy sometimes—it was his first time running after treasure after all. He really did a kickass job with the character. Although they changed Nate’s origin story (he didn’t escape from the orphanage with Sam, his whole introduction to Sully is different) but I can see his Nathan Drake turn into Nolan North’s (Uncharted game series) wise cracking older Drake in future installments. 

Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Nate (Tom Holland) on a 16th century ship.
Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Nate (Tom Holland) work together to protect the treasure.

Next, Sully got “upgraded.” He is more involved in the action, but of course that’s because he is much younger in the film vs the games where he is quite a bit older. I thought that Wahlberg was pretty fun in the role and really made a great team with Tom Holland. The creators were onto something when they paired them up. In the games, Sully’s character wasn’t as knowledgeable as Nate, Chloe, or Sam, but he definitely knew his way around and picked up on things really quickly. Even though Sully in the movie started out a bit cold-hearted and selfish, the writers slowly built him up to be the character we all love. He begins to care about Nate and even a cat that becomes a recurring joke throughout the film.Through this, I was once again reminded that this is an origin story for both us game fans and for those who knew nothing about the games beforehand.

I also absolutely adored that they choose to open the movie in a similar manner to the second and the fourth game where we get a glimpse into the trouble that our hero gets into later on in the story. It all starts with the scene we already saw in the trailers, the whole falling out of the plane with the crates bit, timeline-wise it happens closer to the climax. That’s exactly how they opened Uncharted 2 where Nate wakes up in a train that’s hanging down from the edge of the cliff. Uncharted 4 opens with Nate and Sam on the sea trying to get away from the mercenaries chasing them. Such a good callback. There were a lot of callbacks like that along the way. Some made me smile, others made me straight-up giggle. There was even one where I literally gasped and laughed at the same time. Lagasped? I don’t know, but I do know that my loud reaction came as a surprise to all the fellow people in the cinema. 

Nolan North talking to Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted.
Nolan North talking to Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted.

And, of course, Nolan's cameo in the movie is no longer a secret. I don’t even know if it was secret to begin with: I think we all expected it since cameos in movies from the original actors are pretty common (Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser in Starsky and Hutch etc.), and Tom Holland obviously “spoiled” it during his Jacksepticeye video appearance. If there were other people in the cinema with me who played the games, they either didn’t recognize Nolan or were very quiet about it. What it confirmed for me is how many people watch these movies without knowing anything about the games. 

The action throughout the movie was spectacular, and it was very clear that they put all they had into those sequences. It didn’t just come out as fun but also extremely exciting. A big highlight was the part where Nathan and Sully fight together in the end, it was the peak of their chemistry, and it made the movie even more enjoyable.I loved how it was the first time they fought side to side and they were able to help each other, the whole choreography of the scene added so much to it.  

The treasure hunting parts themselves were also well done, even if the puzzles got solved a bit too quickly to my liking and didn’t really come close to what we experience in the games. What I mean here is the secret entrances to tombs or hidden temples that no one has ever been in, but our main characters run through them like it’s nothing, figuring stuff out almost without a problem. Sure, this is the result of the time limit they have when it comes to movies. I also think that it is a common problem when it comes to movies like this. 

Sully and Nate walk through an old church following the next clue in their treasure hunt. Nate shines a flashlight on the wall.
The treasure hunt begins.

All together, what we got is a very fun movie that pulls away enough from the game to be different but definitely keeps important details enough to feel familiar to the fans. It was a welcome surprise how much I actually liked it, and it is easily among the better game adaptations I’ve seen so far. Then again, given the part about movies that were based on games, this wasn't a hard trophy to earn. There’s an after-credits scene where the filmmakers open the door for even more live-action adventures for Nate and Sully. The movie already made $44,155,000 on opening weekend in the US so we can most likely expect news of a second movie, which I honestly wouldn’t mind at all. 

And don't forget: Sic Parvis Magna - Great things from small beginnings. Alright, my fellow Uncharted game fans, have you seen the Uncharted movie yet? What were your impressions? Let's get out those good and bad reactions in the comments!