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Why the Uncharted film is the treasure I've been looking for

Drake your whole family along!

The newly released Uncharted film takes viewers on a globe-trotting adventure with a young and somewhat innocent Nathan Drake. Unlike the Drake from Naughty Dog's games, Tom Holland's version of the treasure hunter is making his way through the world by working in a bar and pickpocketing his customers. That all changes, however, when he meets Mark Wahlberg's Victor "Sully" Sullivan, who reveals he knows Nate's older brother Sam. After forming a somewhat rocky alliance, the duo then set off together in search of Magellan's treasure. But this being Uncharted, there are of course others who are also after the treasure, and what ensues is a frantic race for the gold.

So, before I get into it, let's quickly address the elephant from the room: Uncharted is a video game adaptation. These have always been a bit of a weak point throughout cinema's history. They never really manage to hit the sweet spot that their game counterparts do so well. Be this because of poor pacing, some awkward dialogue, or a director's desire to suddenly take a massive U-turn away from the source material, they just never seem to deliver the goods.

And a lot of these points do still remain true with Sony's recent reimagining of Uncharted. Several outlets have lamented the fact that Tom Holland's charm soaked talents have been wasted on a "tedious" video game adaptation, with Empire saying, "scenes start to feel like cutscenes that you wish you could skip".

I get all that. I do. But you know what? This time, for me anyway, it really didn't matter. I really enjoyed Uncharted, and not simply because I am a huge fan of the games. I just really appreciated the film for what it was.

And what exactly is that?

Well, it's simple. While Uncharted will not be winning any Oscars outside of hair and make-up - and those Oscars count and should be included in the main ceremony! - one thing it certainly is? Uncharted is fun.

It's good, old-fashioned, rip-roaring fun. And that is just what I needed it to be.

Throughout Uncharted's not quite two hour run time, there are over-the-top set pieces, physics defying stunts, cheesy one-liners (including an homage to Uncharted 3's "Well, well, well" pun) and gorgeous sun-drenched backdrops. I found a story of humour, friendship and family. But that's not all. On the flip side, there is deceit, there is peril and there is suspense.

The Uncharted movie trailer.

All in all, it is a package deal, and a great bit of easy escapism for a cold, dreary night.

Seeing Uncharted's heroes soaring through the skies, skimming across the waves and crawling about in underground tunnels brought me a sense of adventure. And, let's be honest, after the years that we have all had lately, a sense of adventure is something I am sure many others have been missing as well.

All of this means that, when Nathan Drake finally came across the missing treasure of Magellan, I felt quite emotional. But I was emotional in the best possible way.

With the tumultuous times we are currently living through, watching Drake reach his goal gave me a much-needed feeling of hope and optimism. I found myself smiling at the screen, even though it was already pretty clear what was about to happen (I mean, they even showed it in the film's trailers, so it wasn't exactly a surprise).

None of which is to say that I don't see the problems with the film that many others have.

The father/son relationship between Drake and Sully that was so endearing in the games is a little clunky in the film. Wahlberg's version of the character can be a tad more 'bullish' than Naughty Dog's cigar loving ladies' man. There is also a distinct lack of Richard McGonagale's booming Sully vocals, but I don't think anyone would manage to get those other than McGonagale himself, so I suppose that can be allowed to slide.

Additionally, there is no real sexual chemistry between Holland's Drake and Sophia Ali's Chloe Frazer when, let's be honest, in the games it was off the charts. Those hoping to see that fire and passion translated onto the big screen will be left disappointed (it should be noted that Sony did try and allude to Drake having a bit of a crush on Chloe, but she seemed to simply view him as the 'nice guy' in her world full of treachery).

But I didn't really find that any of this bothered me as much as I thought it would. There is still a fun dynamic between the trio, even if they can never be totally sure they can trust each other. Chloe's final word (no spoilers), and the way she delivers it, perfectly sums up the relationship the trio will have in the future.

DF looks at Uncharted.

Then, away from our heroes, there are the baddies. Or more specifically there is Tati Gabrielle's Braddock, who is roughly based on Uncharted 4's formidable Nadine Ross.

Braddock is mean with a capital M most certainly, but in a slightly more 'Disney villain' sort of way that keeps the threat still lighthearted enough that you don't ever feel uncomfortable. We never get given her backstory, and to be honest we don't need it for this film. It is oddly liberating to see a villain who is bad for badness' sake, with no heavy past trauma giving energy to their actions.

Inevitably for 2022, Uncharted finishes with not just one, but two mid-credit scenes, setting the film up for a sequel. I for one really hope that this hypothetical sequel does come to fruition. Sony Pictures boss Tom Rothman has lauded the film, stating that it is a "new hit franchise for the company", so it certainly looks promising.

As a fan I have a bit of a wish list, though. In any future installments, it would be great to see Elena Fisher making her way to the big screen. With Uncharted serving as a prequel to the games (although, yes, the film does retcon some of the characters' history from the games' narratives), it was understandable that she wasn't present this time. But next time, and let there be a next time, more Elena please Sony.

Anyway, if you are looking to find an emotional 'port in the storm', lay down your pirate ship anchors with Uncharted. While I am (clearly) no film critic, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable caper that didn't take itself too seriously. Uncharted is never over-demanding of its viewers, and this in itself makes it a most welcome tonic for the mind, body and soul when real life just feels that little bit too heavy.

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About the Author

Victoria Kennedy avatar

Victoria Kennedy

News reporter

Victoria developed a deep love for video games since watching her brothers barrel their way through Goldeneye 007. She will unashamedly spout forth all sorts of niche Zelda lore to anyone who will listen (and even at times to those who won’t), and makes the best pancakes you have ever seen.

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