26 January 2011

Uncharted Movie – Thick-Skulled Filmmakers - by Brandon Karratti

      Posted 01/24/11 12:42:00 pm  

Okay, so here’s a situation. You have a gaming franchise that has garnered extensive praise and an unsurprisingly large amount of money for its developers. With two excellent games in, and a highly-anticipated sequel on the way, this is what’s known in the entertainment industry as a “hot property.”

You’ve got action, story, suspense, romance, more action, betrayal, intrigue, a lot more action, shooting, jumping, running, explosions and a little more action thrown in for good measure. Mix that in with unforgettable characters, outstanding visuals and some of the greatest interactive settings that have been achieved in gaming, and it’s no wonder that so many people are paying attention to this game. I mean, making a movie based on it is almost a virtual certainty, isn’t it?

So with all this hype, you’re looking for a leading man. Hmm… Well, you need someone who’s got some star power, who can play the role convincingly, and who has some experience in a swashbuckling, action-filled Indiana Jones-esque world of intrigue, character, and character interaction. You’ve also got to get someone who is going to get people to fill the seats. You ask the fans, they give you a name. You ask that actor, he gives you an excited affirmative. And then…

…You cast someone who is the complete opposite.

Nathan Drake, the star of Uncharted, is a smiling, handsome, intelligent doofus who constantly finds himself in unbelievably dangerous and crazy situations, yet who is always ready with a little quip or joke to let you know that he’s not taking things too seriously, but can be counted on when the chips are down to do the right thing and to somehow come out on top while still having the last sarcastic word. Think Indiana Jones, or maybe John McClane. Think of Malcolm Reynolds – Captain of the Serenity.

The fans (me included) immediately had Nathan Fillion in mind for the role of Nathan Drake, an opinion that Fillion himself even encouraged, acknowledging that he was very eager for a chance at the part. As a game that sold over 1,000,000 copies in the first two weeks, you would think that fan-opinion would matter a little bit. Hmm… The people who are going to see this are very likely to be people who have played the game, and are interested in seeing it on the big screen. You would think that if a large majority of them agreed that Fillion would make a great Nathan Drake, the director David O. Russell would have at least given it some thought. Given Fillion a screen test. Something.

Instead, Russell decided that he’s going to change the storyline, and Mark Wahlberg is going to get the part. You know, the guy from such hit action classics as Invincible, The Departed, The Happening, or most recently, The Fighter. Without giving you my personal review of any of these films, I’ll tell you this – Mark Wahlberg usually plays the same role. He’s the straight-laced, even-humored fellow who has a hard time even offering a convincing smile. So with this kind of acting history, how does this role even match up at all?

It doesn’t. Not even a little bit.

I don’t claim to know everything, but I’ll tell you my opinion. Russell needed a 30-ish star who he can work with, with a recognizable name. And that’s as far as he’s thought through it. After I Heart Huckabees and the Fighter, he’s figured that Wahlberg can do the job. I don’t agree.

Basically, like so many video game franchises before it, Uncharted’s cinematic debut is destined to be mishandled, ill-understood, and ultimately discarded as an unfortunate cash in. And yet again, we gaming fans get to have our hopes dashed because of a filmmaker’s ignorance. But I guess until people start to see games as an actual storytelling tool instead of just as frivolous playthings, it’ll be difficult to expect anything more from “busy” directors than to simply skim over the game’s logline.

- K

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Ardney Carter
24 Jan 2011 at 3:32 pm PST

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