Uncharted – The Thief’s Legacy Continues
We here at Player2 are a gaming publication, and so reviews of movies aren’t something we would normally do. Sometimes, however, exceptions enter the mix, and the recently released Uncharted fan film starring “Firefly” and “Castle” alum Nathan Fillion. Hollywood has had a torrid time over the years as they’ve attempted several times to translate numerous different acclaimed gaming IP to the silver screen – none have succeeded. Today, a fan adaptation of the esteemed PlayStation franchise Uncharted and despite launching on YouTube, it has now set a new standard for what gaming adaptations can and should be, one that the official Uncharted Sony Pictures film needs to take note of (should it ever eventuate).
The history of the official Uncharted film is a long and complicated one. First announced in 2009, the film has been in development hell ever since with multiple directors, and cast members attached to it. Throughout the entire saga however there remained one constant, an enormous swell of support for Nathan Fillion to be cast in the role of series protagonist, Nathan Drake. Thanks to Allan Ungar (Gridlocked) the dream has finally been realised, and the result is, to be frank, quite exceptional.
Clocking in at a little over 15 minutes, this Uncharted short film satiates the appetites of franchise fans, whilst also stands alone as a fantastic piece of film that all can appreciate, no matter their experience (or lack of experience) with the IP. For those with an intimate knowledge of Nate, Elena and Sully’s adventures there’s an obvious additional thrill, however, the events of this fan film succeed on more than just a love affair alone. The humour, witty quips and fast action are all not only present but translate seamlessly to the live-action format.
This is a small chapter in a much larger story, but any viewer can and will find themselves immediately hooked by the dynamic between Drake and anyone around them, whether they’re friend or foe, as action-packed chain of events and comic relief combine to form a compulsive concoction. Little is known about the motivations of any party within this story, but you’re immediately rooting for Drake (and I showed this to people unfamiliar with the franchise to confirm this), and riding every bump thanks to his larrikin persona and positive outlook on even the direst of circumstances.
References to the wider universe of the franchise are numerous, from mentions of the wider cast of characters (such as Chloe) and his previous adventures, and none of them feel forced, meanwhile a cheers echoed from my living room when in a shootout the camera swung around to give the viewer the over-the-shoulder shooting perspective that we’ve all become so accustomed to from Uncharted and others from the genre. We’ve seen a similar approach taken in 2005 film adaptation of the DOOM franchise, and whilst it was quite cool in that movie (perhaps it’s only highlight), a new level of immersion is reached in the case of Uncharted.
Almost more important than anything when recreating any other art form in a film is the casting, and in all but one case, this cast excels. Nathan Fillion was made to assume the role of Nathan Drake, Stephen Lang brings all the personality you’d expect to Victor “Goddamn” Sullivan, while the villains, Diego (Geno Segers) and El Tigre (Ernie Reyes Jr.) are suitably imposing and entertaining. The one blemish is with Micrea Monroe’s representation of Nate’s partner and co-conspirator Elena Fisher. As anyone who knows the Uncharted franchise is aware, Elena is a journalist who falls into the web of intrigue and mystery that envelopes Nate and co. but doesn’t have the harder edge that he and many others do. Unfortunately, the Elena presented in this fan film doesn’t possess the safe softer face or warm energy that we get from Elena in the games and were this film to be full length, it would be her soothing influence that would be required to mellow Nate and the viewer down after a particularly chaotic event. Monroe does an excellent job and sounds convincing in the role, but it does just seem that she was miscast in this case.
Outside of one minor hiccup, I don’t feel I’m being outlandish in declaring that Uncharted is, without doubt, the best video game adaptation that we’ve seen to date, and with the official film still surrounded in rumour and speculation, it leaves me wondering why Sony Pictures aren’t reaching out to director Allan Ungar and Nathan Fillion right this second, greasing palms and fleshing this thing out. So much love and thought have been poured into this adaptation, that I truly believe that with the necessary funding Uncharted has the potential to not only be a cinematic powerhouse in gaming but also to take cinema by storm. This though, as brilliant as it was, is just an appetiser, it’s time for the main course.