Uncharted fails to strike gold in its film adaptation

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 25, 2022
Image by Liam Killian
Image by Liam Killian

I’ve been going to the movie theater at least once a week since I was in third grade. In all of those years of movies, I’ve never fallen asleep in a theater… until I saw Uncharted

Uncharted is a film adaptation named after the popular Sony video game series. The movie stars Tom Holland of Spider-Man fame as Nathan Drake. Drake reluctantly joins forces with the trickster Sully, played by Mark Whalberg, to hunt for a lost treasure.

Uncharted is littered with terrible green screen effects, overused tropes and failed attempts at humor. It was about halfway through this nearly two hour long movie that I found myself so bored with the computer generated stunts and poorly choreographed fight scenes that I fell asleep.

Whenever a treasure hunt movie comes out, it automatically draws comparisons to the most iconic of them all, National Treasure. The absurd adventure is by no means a critically amazing movie, but it’s fun to watch. It engages viewers, taking them on a puzzle solving adventure that asks anyone watching to play along and help the main characters find the treasure. 

The characters are likable and their relationships feel real, which makes the characters teasing each other in that movie funny and endearing. Meanwhile, the best way I could describe Uncharted is National Treasure without all of the things that made that movie good. 

Uncharted was not engaging. The puzzles that the characters had to solve either had obvious solutions in front of them, or relied on Nathan Drake to be a human encyclopedia and know some random piece of historical trivia. I felt like the characters were slowing down the treasure hunt at times and then speeding through it at others.

There are one-dimensional characters, and then there’s Tom Holland’s version of Nathan Drake. I don’t think that I could actually name a single character trait that Holland’s character shows in this movie other than being a generally decent person. 

That flaw doesn’t stop with Drake. All of the other characters in the film were severely underdeveloped ancan be defined simply as deceitful. There’s no reason for me to like any of the characters in the movie, so I have no reason to care about what happens to them. 

That shortcoming isn’t helped by Tom Holland giving the laziest performance I’ve seen from him. I was convinced that Holland was a good actor after Spider-Man: No Way Home, but this movie has me second guessing that assessment. His delivery of every line is deadpan, and every scene he’s in is completely devoid of any emotion. It’s clear that Holland was doing this movie for the paycheck, not because he cared about the content.

The humor in Uncharted made me cringe consistently. There was one scene I remember vividly in which Drake said “nuns, why’s it always gotta be nuns?” The obvious reference to Indiana Jones produced nothing more than an eye-roll.

Uncharted can take solace in that it isn’t alone in its failure. Most video game to movie adaptations tend to suffer from all of the flaws that Uncharted did. After the releases of Assassin’s Creed in 2016 and the entire Resident Evil film franchise, I’m really not sure why these films continue to be made when they consistently disappoint fans.

Adapting a video game to a movie pushes directors and writers into a creative hole. They can’t take many risks, because changing the source material could make fans angry. If this movie was an original idea with original characters, the writers would feel a more pressing need to develop those characters rather than relying on viewers to have background knowledge of them. 

The most prevalent flaw in video game to film adaptations is a lack of stakes. Because the writers are put into such a creative hole, we know that the main characters won’t die. The filmmakers can’t kill off one of the most iconic characters in gaming history in a movie, fans would be outraged.

Nathan Drake is never in any real danger in this movie, because he is literally not allowed to die. When he hops out of an airplane with no parachute, the audience knows that he won’t actually plummet to his death. When an enemy holds a gun to Drake’s head, the audience knows that they won’t pull the trigger. There are no stakes, which means there’s no excitement. 

I was hoping for more in Tom Holland’s first outing since Spider-Man: No Way Home, and was met with nothing but disappointment. User 24framesofnick said it best on Letterboxd: “It’s far more rewarding to watch a cutscene compilation of the games on Youtube.”


0.5/5 stars

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