Well, Well, Well, The Uncharted Movie Has Arrived and It’s… Alright?

by: 
hello world!
| February 22, 2022

As a massive Uncharted fan, the day they announced the movie, I immediately went into panic mode. Why? Well, let’s be honest here. There aren’t many actually GOOD video game movies out there.  So the fact that the people behind this film wanted to turn these already incredibly cinematic games into movies that were basically very long films by themselves—it definitely scared me. How will they translate more than 20 hours long game runs? Who will they cast? Which game will they adapt? I mean, there are 4 main Uncharted games about Nathan Drake out there.

Now that we have all the answers to all these questions, it’s time to review the final result that seems to be dividing critics and fans as the movie has a 39% Rotten Tomatoes score from the critics but a high 90% from the fans. Who’s right? Warning, this is going to be a treasure trove of SPOILERS! 

I have to go all the way back to the marketing campaign. It was brilliant, and it definitely helped me adjust my expectations. The behind-the-scenes look with Neil Druckmann and Tom Holland talking about the movie’s take on the game was key. They assured us that this is their own spin on the story of the games, and we won’t be getting a word-for-word adaptation. That helped me keep an open mind about the film. Adding to that was Nolan North’s honest support from the beginning: if Nathan Drake himself says it’s gonna be good, you should listen to the man. 

And here’s the thing… It is a really fun ride from beginning to end.

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake

It was a great choice not to adapt one specific story from the games but, instead, put together their own origin story for Holland’s Drake. I’m also a hardcore fan of seeing familiar things referenced in new stories, like the orphanage from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End along with Sam and Nate’s beginnings. Even though I originally hated that Mark Wahlberg’s Sully didn’t have a mustache, the feeling disappeared pretty quickly, seeing the chemistry between him and Tom Holland is one of the bright spots of the film.

Hold up! Before I get too deep into the good stuff, let me do a run-through of things that weren’t great at all. And I will start with the one that bothers me immensely. 

Here’s what I didn’t like in the movie. 

Chloe Frazer. It wasn’t her. Simple as that. No hate towards the actress at all (Sophia Ali) who tried her best, but this role definitely wasn’t for her. What annoyed me the most is that they downgraded Chloe’s character (and Sully’s for that matter) in order to make Nate appear smarter. In the game franchise, Chloe is just as knowledgeable as Nate. In this film, though, she barely adds anything to the actual treasure hunt. She feels like a tag along character, it’s always Nate who figures things out, there’s only one or two instances where she adds anything to solve the puzzle and it’s the tiniest bit. She was there, sure. She did things, yes.

But it was nowhere near to the badass, smart, witty, great con artist she is in the games. I missed her remarks towards Nate. She radiated confidence in the games, but here I didn’t feel any of that. Most importantly she didn’t have any chemistry at all with Nate or Sully. As much as you could feel it between Wahlberg and Holland it was basically non-existent between her and the others. The only thing that really felt like the Chloe we have come to love from the games is her ability to play both sides of the conflict for her personal gain. She’s a chaotic neutral character so it’s great to see that come to life in the film as well. 

Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer

Chloe is one of my all-time favorite video game characters, and I’ve found my way into cosplaying through that character. Therefore not really seeing the tiniest bit of resemblance (even in the clothes or hair like they did with Nate) was very disappointing. Moving forward, the writers need to really flesh her out more when it comes to her in possible future films for me to be able to say ‘Yes, this is it.’ But, to be fully honest, based on this movie I also don’t think that Sophia Ali can bring the whole energy and aura that Chloe has.

The “enemies” of the story, Antonio Banderas’ Santiago Moncada and Tati Gabrielle’s Braddock, were both incredibly underdeveloped, probably because of the small amount of time they had to fit them in. This is another disadvantage that watching a movie has compared to playing a game. All the villainous characters from the games were memorable, but not just because they were formidable (Braddock in the movie), but also because we had the time to get to know their motives and them a lot better. The backstory to the Moncada family could be fully left out in this film and it wouldn’t affect anything in the story. In fact, his whole character could be scrapped out entirely streamlining the runtime and giving the more interesting villain more screen time. Speaking of, the character Braddock is giving off some serious Nadine Ross vibes (a mercenary in Uncharted 4). Her introduction in the film has similarities to Nadine’s story arc in the fourth game and even her position as a mercenary leader. But we barely got to know her at all. Although they hinted at her connection to Sully multiple times it was never entirely clear what happened between them.

Now back to the good things. 

First up: Nathan Drake. I can say with a big smile on my face that Tom Holland was an excellent choice. It is so obvious throughout the entire movie that he loves playing Nate, and that warmed my heart. During the fight scenes or when they are on the actual treasure hunt itself, you could just feel it on his every move and the way his face lit up. I loved how they built him up from a petty thief to the treasure hunter who we all love so much. Smart-mouth all around, a bit clumsy sometimes—it was his first time running after treasure after all. He really did a kickass job with the character. Although they changed Nate’s origin story (he didn’t escape from the orphanage with Sam, his whole introduction to Sully is different) but I can see his Nathan Drake turn into Nolan North’s (Uncharted game series) wise cracking older Drake in future installments. 

Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Nate (Tom Holland) on a 16th century ship.
Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Nate (Tom Holland) work together to protect the treasure.

Next, Sully got “upgraded.” He is more involved in the action, but of course that’s because he is much younger in the film vs the games where he is quite a bit older. I thought that Wahlberg was pretty fun in the role and really made a great team with Tom Holland. The creators were onto something when they paired them up. In the games, Sully’s character wasn’t as knowledgeable as Nate, Chloe, or Sam, but he definitely knew his way around and picked up on things really quickly. Even though Sully in the movie started out a bit cold-hearted and selfish, the writers slowly built him up to be the character we all love. He begins to care about Nate and even a cat that becomes a recurring joke throughout the film.Through this, I was once again reminded that this is an origin story for both us game fans and for those who knew nothing about the games beforehand.

I also absolutely adored that they choose to open the movie in a similar manner to the second and the fourth game where we get a glimpse into the trouble that our hero gets into later on in the story. It all starts with the scene we already saw in the trailers, the whole falling out of the plane with the crates bit, timeline-wise it happens closer to the climax. That’s exactly how they opened Uncharted 2 where Nate wakes up in a train that’s hanging down from the edge of the cliff. Uncharted 4 opens with Nate and Sam on the sea trying to get away from the mercenaries chasing them. Such a good callback. There were a lot of callbacks like that along the way. Some made me smile, others made me straight-up giggle. There was even one where I literally gasped and laughed at the same time. Lagasped? I don’t know, but I do know that my loud reaction came as a surprise to all the fellow people in the cinema. 

Nolan North talking to Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted.
Nolan North talking to Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted.

And, of course, Nolan’s cameo in the movie is no longer a secret. I don’t even know if it was secret to begin with: I think we all expected it since cameos in movies from the original actors are pretty common (Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser in Starsky and Hutch etc.), and Tom Holland obviously “spoiled” it during his Jacksepticeye video appearance. If there were other people in the cinema with me who played the games, they either didn’t recognize Nolan or were very quiet about it. What it confirmed for me is how many people watch these movies without knowing anything about the games. 

The action throughout the movie was spectacular, and it was very clear that they put all they had into those sequences. It didn’t just come out as fun but also extremely exciting. A big highlight was the part where Nathan and Sully fight together in the end, it was the peak of their chemistry, and it made the movie even more enjoyable.I loved how it was the first time they fought side to side and they were able to help each other, the whole choreography of the scene added so much to it.  

The treasure hunting parts themselves were also well done, even if the puzzles got solved a bit too quickly to my liking and didn’t really come close to what we experience in the games. What I mean here is the secret entrances to tombs or hidden temples that no one has ever been in, but our main characters run through them like it’s nothing, figuring stuff out almost without a problem. Sure, this is the result of the time limit they have when it comes to movies. I also think that it is a common problem when it comes to movies like this. 

Sully and Nate walk through an old church following the next clue in their treasure hunt. Nate shines a flashlight on the wall.
The treasure hunt begins.

All together, what we got is a very fun movie that pulls away enough from the game to be different but definitely keeps important details enough to feel familiar to the fans. It was a welcome surprise how much I actually liked it, and it is easily among the better game adaptations I’ve seen so far. Then again, given the part about movies that were based on games, this wasn’t a hard trophy to earn. There’s an after-credits scene where the filmmakers open the door for even more live-action adventures for Nate and Sully. The movie already made $44,155,000 on opening weekend in the US so we can most likely expect news of a second movie, which I honestly wouldn’t mind at all. 

And don’t forget: Sic Parvis Magna – Great things from small beginnings. Alright, my fellow Uncharted game fans, have you seen the Uncharted movie yet? What were your impressions? Let’s get out those good and bad reactions in the comments!

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5 comments on “Well, Well, Well, The Uncharted Movie Has Arrived and It’s… Alright?”

  1. I saw it Monday and thought it was a hoot. There were things I didn’t like, things I loved. But as a skeptic of the idea of an Uncharted film up to about 5 or 6 months ago, it won me over. I completely didn’t mind the alternate version of how Nate, Sully, and Chloe all came to work together; how Nate got the SPM ring; I didn’t mind that this first movie was sort of a greatest hits of set pieces from multiple games. It was just good fun, and I giggled a lot.

    Did Not Like:
    – If I hear the phrase “my brother, Sam” spoken out loud ever again, I will do a murder. Every. Single. Time. All three words. My brother, Sam. F**k Sam, I hope he dies of prison herpes off-camera between movies.

    – You get a doublecross! And you get a doublecross! And you get a double…..enough already.

    – The primary reason for sending Chloe off on a wild goose chase appears to have been to get the actress in a bikini top.

    – No Elena??? Like, at all? I thought it was going to be a secret reveal, but I guess joke’s on me.

    – Thought it was weird seeing Nate reduced to petty street thief. We’d seen his pick pocketing skills before, but it was as a means to an end. Not to hock fancy bracelets for spending money. I’m sure the character has done that often enough in the context of the games, but seeing it depicted was kind of a downer for me. (As the scene first started I thought maybe Trust Fund Lady was going to end up being Elena, but alas……)

    – A cat? Really? A cat.

    Liked Just Fine, Thankyouverymuch:
    – Pretty much all the rest of it.

    – I enjoyed the aerial ship battle more than I probably should’ve.

    – I spied with my little eye maybe half a dozen Easter eggs, but I’m sure there are more. Would like to hear thoughts on these; there’s one in particular near the end (the pre-credit prison scene) that’s a strong ‘maybe???’ from me, so I’m curious if anyone else saw it.

    – Just how great was it hearing that theme music in the theater???? Come on!

    – First line of dialog: “Oh, crap!” Win.

    – The scenes in Barcelona take place mostly in the only part of the city I have any measure of familiarity with, so that was fun. (We have a picture of La Sagrada Familia in our living room that was taken from the same spot in the park across the street where father and son Moncada have a heart-to-heart; I’ll be available for autographs after the show.)

    1. I think that since we are seeing a movie version take of how it all started basically Nate’s whole thief backstory isn’t that bad at all. I very much enjoyed how they did the whole bar scene with the girl.
      Yes, A cat, and I love that cat 😀
      I think Elena not being in it makes sense. I didn’t expect her to show up at all. And there’s the question of who will they cast?

  2. The movie felt like it was going “ok, here’s all the references we’re willing to make from the games. Now they’re all out of the way. Ok, now we’re gonna do our own thing.” And I’m not mad about that approach to be honest. Most of the gripes I had were with the characters.

    Chloe I think was the most mishandled of them all. She didn’t have the cheeky personality of the game version and came off a little too antagonistic for my taste. I would love to see her massively developed in the upcoming films.

    Nate was very well done, but I wish he had been MUCH more than a petty thief. Part of his whole character in the games is that he literally CAN’T be a “normal” person and goes on these wild hunts on his own. But at least Tom is talented enough to bring him to life in a way I believe him in THIS iteration of the character.

    Sully was a little… off. I love this character, but he didn’t really feel like the Sully I know, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I just wanted him to be a little more… I don’t know how to say it other than “Sully-ish”. Like I can’t see this version of him bringing a hooker to church.

    Thank GOD that wasn’t Nadine. That is all.

    Final thought, can we PLEASE get Statham as Cutter in the next one? PLEASE!

    1. Agree with everything Luis but I did actually like Sully, I think they are turning him into the Sully we all love nice and slow. He was a dick at the beginning and it definitely weirded me out, but when he chooses to save Nate instead of the gold in the end was their way of turning him into the man we adore.

      OH MY GOD THEY MUST CAST JASON STATHAM AS CUTTER YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. NOW I REALLY WANT TO SEE THAT!!! AAAAAAAAAA

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