The Goonies meets Raiders of the Lost Ark in the moderately entertaining movie adaptation of the hit Uncharted video game series. Of course, therein lies a tonal problem: the movie is never quite sure what tone it wants to strike. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg star in the Ruben Fleischer helmed high-flying action-adventure movie that hopes you haven’t played or know much about the video game. Fortunately for me, I wouldn’t even know the cover art of the game, let alone anything about it other than the title. And that is probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did–but that isn’t saying much. #FilmTwitter was up in arms about the boyish Holland playing the grizzled Nathan Drake when the casting was announced. And while I cannot comment on his particular interpretation of the main character from the video game, I can comment on an inability to buy him as the character, as written, for the movie. It’s indicative of the trend of endowing teens and young adult actors (and by extension, characters) with the same qualities and experiences that come with age and experience. I’ll give him this, he is a charismatic actor. The slapdash storytelling comes across as a movie that feels more like a curation of cut-scenes from a video game, a problem that plagues most video game movie adaptations.
Nathan Drake and his wisecracking partner Victor “Sully” Sullivan embark on a dangerous quest to find the greatest treasure never found while also tracking clues that may lead to Nate’s long-lost brother.
What ultimately keeps this movie afloat is the witty, quippy dialogue, completely devoid of any subtext, but will elicit periodic laughter throughout the movie. While I know next to nothing about the video game, I did learn from a fan of the video game that there is a major element from the game that is completely absent from the movie. I won’t mention what that is in order to avoid spoilers. Be sure to wait around for the mid and post credit scenes that setup a sequel. If you do plan to see it, you’ll definitely want to watch it in the biggest premium format in your area. Many of the scenes, especially in the third act, deliver immense size and scope that are best appreciated and experiences on the biggest screen possible.
While I am unsure of the plot of the video game, the movie sets up an emotionally-driven subplot of the Nathan’s search for his long-lost (or gone) brother. But, it never feels that is plays any significant role in the main action plot. In fact, you can remove the whole search for his brother and the movie plays out the same. This is a movie that could have been a nice hybrid between The Goonies and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it tries to be both of them instead of finding its own expression. Perhaps this is yet another example of how most video game adaptations simply don’t translate to the screen well, because the interactive element is missing.
At the end of the day, it’s a decent popcorn flick to experience in IMAX that is a perfectly fine way to pass the time on an afternoon.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Digital Citizenship at the University of Tampa. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter or email him at RLTerry1@gmail.com! If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.
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