It’s probably fair to say that the history of movies based on video games has its ups and downs. “Street Fighter” was rated as one of the worst films ever made when it was released during the 1990s, although it’s become something of a cult classic in the years that have passed. Several of the “Resident Evil” films are actually pretty good. The most recent “Tomb Raider” film was also good, but the “Super Mario Bros” film was awful. Just because something works as a video game does not necessarily mean that it will work as a film, no matter how popular that video game franchise might be. That’s why we’re always a little nervous when people decide to commission films based on the games we’ve loved playing – but we think there might be reason for optimism about the forthcoming “Uncharted” movie.
As games become more like films in terms of their production quality, we can probably expect to see more of them reaching the big screen. We’ve heard talk of both a “Grand Theft Auto” movie and a “Call of Duty” movie, and so perhaps we can start thinking about films almost as tie-in products for the games, just as action figures and online slots often are. Numerous classic titles from the history of video gaming have been re-imagined as games at Money Reels (with the official “Street Fighter” online slots game proving to be far more popular than the movie ever was), so films are just another extension of a game’s brand. There isn’t – as of yet – an online slots game based on “Uncharted,” but are Columbia Pictures taking a gamble on investing big money on a feature film based on the intellectual property? Let’s check out available information and see if we can draw any conclusions.
The first thing a movie based on a video game needs if it’s to have any chance of success whatsoever is a strong actor in the lead role. This movie won’t have any problems in respect of that. “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland has been cast as Nathan Drake and recently posted a picture to his social media profiles allowing us to get our first look at him in character. He’s dyed his hair to suit the role, and he certainly looks the part in terms of his costuming. Holland is one of the most respected and highly-rated young actors in Hollywood, and it’s unlikely that he would have accepted this part if he didn’t feel the script was strong enough to merit it. The presence of Holland is helpful in terms of the film’s box office appeal, but it’s also a vote of confidence in the quality of the finished product.
The casting of Holland also offers us a clue as to what kind of path the producers appear to have taken with the story. Holland is noticeably younger than the character of Nathan Drake as he appears in any of the video games in the series to date. That’s led to speculation that this might serve as a prequel or origin story for the character, portraying events that occurred before the release of the first game. If that’s true, it will give the producers the ability to create a tale that isn’t bound by existing continuity – although it would have to take careful steps to avoid contradictions with any of the continuity established by the games. This might come as a disappointment to some fans of the “Uncharted” series. The narratives of almost all of the games lend themselves very well to film, with “Uncharted 4” in particular being hailed in some quarters as the best story ever told by any video game in history. That’s high praise indeed, but it appears likely that we won’t get to see the story re-told on the big screen.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy for the film project. The idea of a film about the “Uncharted” story was first discussed – and then subsequently approved – several years ago, with the first mention coming as far back as 2015. Since then, several names have been attached to the project, with a series of directors allegedly agreeing to helm the movie and then stepping away for various reasons. Ruben Fleischer eventually agreed to sit in the director’s chair and will almost certainly remain there now that the cameras have started rolling. After several delays, the projected release date of the movie is now July 2021, although that could be subject to further holdups or postponements depending on how much progress is made and what global movie theater conditions are like closer to the time.
Although we haven’t seen any pictures of him in costume yet, we know what Mark Wahlberg has also landed a big apart in the movie. He’ll be playing Victor Sullivan – a name known to fans as Nathan Drake’s mentor and fellow adventurer. Wahlberg, like Holland, is younger than the character he’s portraying appears to be in the game – a fact that lends further support to the ‘origin story’ theory. With two big-name actors attached to the film, it stands every chance of filling a void that’s about to be left in the movie world by the end of the “Indiana Jones” series. Although a fifth “Indiana Jones” movie is already in production with an expected release date of 2022, both director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford have confirmed it will be the much-loved character’s final outing. Ford will be eighty years old by the time of the movie’s release and can’t portray the character as the same ‘action hero’ type he was in his youth. Nathan Drake might not be exactly like Indiana Jones, but he’s a close enough fit for fans of the genre.
So, we know that this film has two big stars in it, a very capable director, and the potential to spawn a whole new movie franchise. Will that be enough to make it a success? It’s too early to say right now, but we’ll know by the middle of next year if all goes well. As and when we have any more exciting news to report about the “Uncharted” movie, we’ll make sure that you’re the first to know.