Grab your treasure map, 3.5 readers. It’s time to chart a course to…mediocrity.
BQB here with a review of the treasure hunting tour de force (farce?) that is Uncharted.
Movies based on video games are often hit or miss and frankly, more miss than hit. I can’t really recall a game based movie that was a hit. A better movie historian than I might know of one and I feel like there must have been one but ultimately, what works as a collection of cut scenes between parts of a game where players make stuff blow up rarely translates to the big screen.
This is ironic as most gamers, myself included, have always agreed that Uncharted is one of the most cinematic films ever made. For the uninitiated, the games follow snarky treasure hunter Nathan Drake, a descendant of famed explorer and Queen Elizabeth love interest Sir Francis Drake. With the help of surly old pilot Sully, he travels the world in search of history’s greatest piles of long lost loot, often getting shot at by villains who want it more than he does. As a gamer, you get to shoot back, jump across ravines and hope you don’t fall in, climb up wreckage before it falls off a cliff and so on.
Sadly, the film version loses a lot in translation. Mark Wahlberg’s Sully isn’t grumpy or surly but is greedy, a scumbag who cares about gold more than people. He has a heart in there somewhere but whether he will let his lust for wealth get the better of him is his challenge. Villain Antonio Banderas…sigh…all I can say is he is getting up there in years, but I suppose it happens to the best of us. He is an average villain as villains go.
There’s a hot babe who likes to stab people and another hot babe who joins Sully and Nate. I can’t remember their names. I don’t think they added much to the movie other than they were hot and the one stabby hot one stabbed people in creative ways.
Tom Holland is given a chance to shine outside of his best known Spiderman role. I think the question we viewers had was can he play someone other than Spidey. Turns out he can. You’re able to view him as someone other than Peter Parker though in the games, Drake’s character was more of a handsome ne’er-do-well while Holland still has that aw shucks nerd appeal though he tries to lose it here.
While it is a fun romp, it doesn’t quite live up to the games. Though it comes out big time, and I mean big time at the end, much of the film is devoid of stuff you’d want to see in a treasure hunting movie, like wandering through jungles and tombs and catacombs and so on. I’ll give the film credit and admit the end is a visually stunning thrill ride but the ride toward it is a bit of a snoozer.
Holland does great but I think was ultimately miscast in the role, as was Wahlberg. Again, if you’ve never played the games, imagine a young, full of himself Robert Downey Jr. being flown around the world by an angry wiseacre grandpa. It was a buddy duo that worked in the game but doesn’t work in a movie where both characters want to be the cool leading man guy.
Also, the film kind of just glosses over Drake being an ancestor of Sir Francis Drake. I don’t think they ever even explain who Sir Francis was, and the modern day Drake’s ancestry was a fun part of the games. Weird how every Batman movie needs to devote at least a half hour or more to the Waynes’ untimely demise outside a movie theater but no one thought to add a five minute scene about how the main character is a distant descendant of a world famous explorer.
STATUS: It’s ok. A bit of a bummer because if there was ever a game begging to be turned into a movie, it was Uncharted. I’ll admit that making a treasure hunter movie in today’s modern times is a hill so steep one wonders if climbing it is worth the effort. Today’s modern audiences are more aware than ever that treasure hunters are basically just thieves who travel the world stealing another culture’s precious wealth and relics and all those booby traps the hunters have to dodge are just the ancient equivalent of an alarm system. Don’t you lock your doors and turn on your alarm to protect your stuff? Well, ancient people did that too. (By the way the film also distinctly lacks any good booby trap scenes, a must have in a treasure hunter movie.)
Is it shelf-worthy? Barely. It could have been better. It looks like sequels are planned. Though I like Tom Holland, I think the movie rests heavily on Holland’s fame and charm and if Hollywood had put some thought into it, they could have made some great flicks here. Then again, maybe not. After all, no one roots for a treasure hunter anymore. Why do you think Hollywood hasn’t put out any recent Indy reboots when they’ve rebooted everything else?