Screenshot of Tom Holland in Uncharted
Image via Google Images

‘Uncharted’ Isn’t a Faithful Film Adaptation, but It Succeeds Nonetheless

The movie doesn’t follow the plot of any one game in the series, but fans are still thrilled.

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Screenshot of Tom Holland in Uncharted
Image via Google Images

The movie doesn’t follow the plot of any one game in the series, but fans are still thrilled.

With an opening weekend of $51 million, “Uncharted” shocks fans and critics alike with its action, adventure and comedic timing.

As far as video game protagonists go, Nathan “Nate” Drake may be one of the most well-known in the 21st century. Drake spearheads all four games in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise, where players see and play as Nate in different periods of his life. He continuously chases after lost treasure, despite the dangers the treasures bring.

The film, starring “Spider-Man: No Way Home” leading man Tom Holland, follows Nate (Tom Holland) as he helps career treasure-hunters Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) and Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) to locate and claim the lost fortune of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. As all avid action-adventure fans know, treasure-hunting is no easy task, and this journey is no exception. The three are confronted with many obstacles, from boobytraps to rival treasure hunters.

Before the film’s release, which has been in the works since 2008, fans were intrigued to see which game(s) the film would cover. The answer? Well, it’s complicated. The film doesn’t follow the plots from any of the four games in their entirety, which has pros and cons. Because many people regard Uncharted as one of the best storytelling video games to date, it surprised some fans to learn that the film would deviate from storylines they were already familiar with. In fact, the stories within the PlayStation-exclusive franchise were so popular that some gamers purchased new systems specifically to play the Uncharted games.

The new film, directed by Ruben Fleischer, is less of a direct adaptation of one of the game plots and, instead, is more of an homage to the series. However, as observant fans will notice, the film only seems to draw inspiration from the franchise’s fourth and final game, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, released in 2016.

Reviews coming out after the film’s President’s Day weekend release are mixed. The film’s IMDb user score sits at a 6.7 out of 10 but remains one of the most popular films on the website. However, the film’s Rotten Tomatoes rating has a different opinion. Critic reviews sit at a dismal 40%, while fan reviews rate it highly at 90%. The biggest difference? Critics found the film too reminiscent of its action-adventure predecessors, while fans found it exciting, interesting and funny, regardless of its likeness to older films.

Overall, the film proved to be a box office hit, making an impressive profit that grows each day. While there is no confirmation of more “Uncharted” movies, it is certainly a possibility that Fleischer has prepared for.

Uncharted is not the first video game to be adapted into a major motion picture, and it certainly will not be the last. Over the past 15 years, the film industry has produced many video game-inspired films such as “Monster Hunter” or “Silent Hill.” Though some are more successful than others, there is an even number of adaptations spread across the genres. However, in a world of entertainment after the excellence of “Indiana Jones,” perhaps action-adventure game adaptations are the way to go.

More Adaptations

Fantasy: The Witcher (2019-)

Netflix’s fantasy series has been nothing but successful since its release in 2019. The television series starring Henry Cavill takes its story from the 2007 role-playing game of the same name. The highly revered series, which currently consists of three games, gains most of its popularity from the third and most recent addition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, released in 2015. The show, unlike the new “Uncharted” film, follows the game’s storyline more closely, with Cavill himself stating that he “spent lockdown playing The Witcher games on [the] hardest difficulty setting.

Action: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat has been known for its gratuitous violence since its original release in 1992. Developed by the now-defunct publisher Midway, the game came out as a direct response to Capcom’s extremely popular game Street Fighter. These two paved the way for similar competitive fighting games, but Mortal Kombat, now on its 11th game, has since made its way to the big screen again and again. The 2021 adaptation, titled “Mortal Kombat” and directed by Simon McQuoid, follows the journey of MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) as he becomes the Earth’s greatest champion. Although the film is far from a direct adaptation in terms of storyline, the film incorporates as many fun aspects of the games as possible. The film, which only made $23 million on its opening weekend, sits with a similar IMDb user score as “Uncharted,” with a 6.1 out of 10. Why, then, is there such a stark difference in the two film’s profits? Mainly because “Uncharted” can chalk up a lot of its audience interest to stars like Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas.

Adventure: Tomb Raider (2018)

While “Uncharted” may have unique moments for an adventure film, Nathan Drake is hardly the first video game adventurer portrayed in theaters. Female protagonist and total badass Lara Croft appeared in theaters multiple times, most recently in Roar Uthaug’s 2018 film “Tomb Raider.” The film follows Lara (Alicia Vikander) on her journey to find answers regarding her father’s (Dominic West) disappearance. The film follows the same trend as “Mortal Kombat” and “Uncharted,” with an IMDb user rating of 6.3 out of 10. Unlike “Uncharted,” the film directly follows the plot of the 2013 game of the same name. It is the 14th game in the franchise, published by many developers. Despite fan reception, the film also saw only $23 million its opening weekend, making it a box office flop.

As with all television, film and video game trends, there are both successes and failures. Not every video game needs an adaptation, especially when it is already praised for its cinema-like storytelling. But regardless of critic or fan reviews, numbers don’t lie, and this President’s Day weekend box office was topped by none other than “Uncharted,” making it Tom Holland’s second blockbuster hit of 2022.

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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