The Future of Uncharted: Understanding the Convergence of Gaming and the Big Screen

Ahead of the Uncharted film adaptation release, much speculation existed about how the movie would turn out. Was it going to be another video game adaptation flop? Or was it going to be something beyond our wildest dreams? Fans of the award-winning series were in full discord about it. 

Just over a year after its release, I still believe it was a great movie. And I am not the only one. The fact that the film had both a theatrical release and a Netflix release shows fans’ fondness for the film. 

Films that blend history with fiction are usually my favorite types of films. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg for reasons I find the Uncharted film great. Not only does the movie have a star-studded cast, but it is also a unique take on the prequel to one of Naughty Dog’s greatest creations. In an era teeming with creativity, we need more creatives to push for productions like the Uncharted adaptation.

I know that some still shy away from the film. This even goes for other phenomenal games recently turned into films and television productions. I hope those who are critical can understand that the production of these films is not for them. These adaptations are for the sole purpose of bringing in new fans to beloved series. 

The Uncharted Games

According to Sony’s PlayStation website, “From award-winning developer Naughty Dog, the UNCHARTED series is a cinematic action-adventure experience uncovering historical mysteries while traveling through varied and stunningly rendered environments. Join Nathan Drake and Chloe Frazer across the globe as they confront warmongers and mercenaries, unite with former colleagues, uncover forgotten histories, and tackle their deepest fears to forge their legacy.” In total, the Uncharted series has a total of nine games. 

Across the series, players follow Nathan Drake, his friends, and his foes on hair-raising treasure hunts. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune hopped into Nate’s adventurous life with his quest for El Dorado. Besides the cinematic gameplay, a potential reason for the first game’s success was its release in conjunction with the PlayStation 3. The system was one of many that revolutionized gaming. Accompanied by the success of the first game’s sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Naughty Dog ensured the creation of one of the most fascinating storylines of all gaming history

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Cover art from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, which shows Nate after surviving a planet crash. 

Even with the success of the video game series, there was never a devoted prequel game that demonstrated how our protagonists and supporting characters came to know each other leading up to the first installment in the series. This is where the film comes into play. 

The Uncharted Movie 

As stated on Netflix’s website, “Street-smart treasure hunter Nathan Drake and his renegade mentor Sully set out on a dangerous adventure across the globe to find Magellan’s lost gold.” The movie posits itself as an immediate prequel to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

The Uncharted Movie

Tom Holland (left) and Mark Wahlberg (right) in front of a 16th-century Portuguese carrack.

The movie started with a scene reminiscent of Nate’s airplane dilemma in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The scene showcases why it is not just another video game adaptation. It took such a unique approach that it went so far as to include easter eggs like an actual video game. Callback moments were quite clear, being apparent for video game and non-video game players alike. 

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of exploring the vast stretches of jungle and ocean in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and its sequels. These memories made watching the movie that much sweeter. This was especially true for the most important part of the film, the relationship between Nathan Drake and his closest friend, Victor “Sully” Sullivan.

Nate and Sully: An Unbreakable Bond

Although there are many points regarding the relationship between the film and the game series, no point is as pertinent as the relationship between Nate and Sully. The dynamic between them is much like that of a father and son. No matter what they go through, Nathan and Sully always seem to have each other’s back. 

Nate and Sully are a formidable duo!

In the video game series, we only get bits and pieces of how their relationship started. Most of their early relationship is displayed in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. In the game, there is a sequence in which a younger Nathan meets Sully. Seeing something unique in Nate, Sully becomes a pseudo-parental figure and mentor for Nate.

In contrast to the video game, the film has the duo starting their relationship by meeting in a bar. It is made clear Nate and Sully have very similar interests and skills. The film takes from this the initial interaction and has them going off on an adventure, ending with a post-credits that hints at events tied to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Instead of showcasing their relationship through a short sequence, or back-and-forth jabber, the film presents a dedicated time frame for new viewers to glimpse the two coming together.

Nate and Sully’s relationship is a quintessential part of the Uncharted franchise. Seeing as the film served as a prequel with a set time, it did not have the same capacity to match the level of character development as the hours of Uncharted games. Nonetheless, the movie proved itself as a prequel and established a base for the growth of their relationship if there are film adaptations of the other games in the series. 

What’s Next for Uncharted

While I can understand why some players of the Uncharted series may not be fond of the film, it must be understood that the film was not made for gamers. The Uncharted film adaptation was made to attract new fans, with the ultimate goal being for fans to become gamers. 

Like HBO’s interpretation of The Last of Us, or Paramount Pictures’s take on Sonic the Hedgehog, Uncharted is all about drawing in more people to play the franchise. From a business perspective, it is a very strategic tactic. It is a tactic for the investment in multiple content hours across various mediums. Taking a creative analysis to it, it only adds to the hype about the series. 

I know this film will empower an even greater journey for Uncharted. The new light on gaming brings more attention to the series, thus leading to greater longevity. Our world is full of mysteries, and Uncharted will be one of the many ways we explore them. 

What did you think of the Uncharted movie? Join the conversation in the comments section!

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