Long ago, back when we had a friend called MySpace Tom, there was talk of a movie based on the then new PlayStation franchise; Uncharted. There is a history of making films from games; Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Resident Evil and Super Mario Bros. all spring to mind, for better or for worse. So it hardly seemed surprising when the rumours started rumbling about a “Drake’s Fortune” movie. Because that is all it was at that time. We had Drake’s Fortune and so that would be what the movie was going to be.
But since then more than five years have come and gone, and we are still short one film. In the intervening years we have been treated to two further PS3 games, a PS Vita game (with expansion), a book and some comics. Oh, and an appearance for our hero in the recent PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale game. A lot has happened to Nathan and chums in those years. We have a greater understanding of what made Nathan the man he is; where he came from; and just how much he likes the ladies.
But *where* is the film?
Well, you may not be unaware that whatever it is has been dogged by hiccups and mishaps and false starts even before anything has ever really gotten off the ground. There was that moment when Mark Wahlberg leaked his involvement in the movie, and announced he would be playing Drake under the Directorship of David O Russell. This in itself wasn’t necessarily cause for concern, but with this news came the outing of certain details that would make up the background to the movie. The most abhorrent of this to many was the apparent disregard of the characters lives and motives. It is no small matter, and the lack of consideration of the source material was the final straw for fans, and the resulting (and very public) reaction was almost entirely negative. We at All Things UNCHARTED did contact the studio, and were informed that no official decisions had been made as no script had been submitted, and no casting had been finalised.
But it was a relief when it was announced that O Russell had pulled out, taking with him whatever script he may have had. All went quiet for a time, until it was announced that Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (of National Treasure fame) would be penning the script. Honestly? This seemed to sit better with fans; the similarities between the Nicolas Cage films and the Nathan Drake games can not be easily ignored. This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t work outside of their comfort zone but after the burn we got from O Russell it seemed a more pleasant option.
And since then… quiet again
An interview with Ryan Culver, the gentleman who played Nathan Drake in the live action commercial for PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale (and is pictured at the top of this page), was bought to my attention a few days ago. His attitude towards Uncharted and what it can be is refreshing. Ryan admits to not knowing a great deal about it before auditioning, but the guy did his homework, and got Nathan’s mannerisms and humour down rather well for such a short appearance with no words. There is a particular gesture that he makes, an exasperated wave of the hand which screams “Nathan Drake” to me.
That an actor puts in the hours of research required to do his job well isn’t especially noteworthy, but it was his attitude towards the franchise, and the existing audience, that really grabbed my attention.
The most important thing to me was to stay true to the fans. To take this incredible character and this amazing storyline and just try and become a part of that. It is already so well fleshed out that there’s not much need to try and change it.
I also get the impression that this venture into gameworld has been a pleasant one for Culver. His choice of tweets and retweets tells me he got quite a kick out of being Drake for a few days.
He also has this to say on the matter;
And I think some of the problems with a project like that is that people outside the gaming community want to do their own thing with it. And when they do, they lose a lot of that community.
Ryan Culver seems very astute.
Anyway, one thought led to another, and I decided that I wanted to know now whether anyone really gives a toss about the prospect of an Uncharted movie at all. Despite being full of my own opinions, I wanted to know what others think, so I put out a very brief survey which many of you were lovely enough to fill out for me. I began by asking how much people love Uncharted as a whole, and probably unsurprisingly you gave your passion 9.4 out of 10, on average. I had hoped to attract responses from people who were less interested, but the fact that I didn’t might tell you that you will only respond to a survey about an Uncharted film if you care about Uncharted. That may seem obvious, but on the other hand it tells you about the audience. And this was a recurring theme.
When I asked what single thing people loved the most about it, the narrative came out on top (34%), with Nathan Drake (22%) and the Setting/Concept (16%) being the other popular answers. I can deduce from this that the story and the world created by Naughty Dog is what draws people and makes them stay. (When asked what else people thought special, the other options (gameplay, single player, multiplayer and the other characters), were split fairly equally with only multiplayer lagging behind.)
Questions specifically about the movie idea were answered with less enthusiasm, but still more than I had expected. The first question I asked (“How good do you think an Uncharted movie *could* be?”) averaged a score out of 10 of 8.2. Uncharted is of course often praised for its cinematic style and rich narrative (remember that hugely patronising and apocryphal story about the guy whose girlfriend asked which movie he was watching when in fact he was playing Uncharted? Yeah…) so this high figure is understandable. The answers to the next question; “How much do you *want* to see a movie made of Uncharted?” were slightly more tentative, and more evenly spread, but did average 7.5. Honestly I was not expecting such enthusiasm, especially considering how long we have been hearing about it. Even weirder, in my view, is the fact that the highest number of responses was given to 10 out of 10 (31%).
To summarise; Uncharted fans want an Uncharted movie. I truly did not expect that.
Before I come to the concluding comments and questions, I would like to take a brief intermission, and talk about casting. I don’t think I can get away with writing an article about Uncharted movies and not mention it, so here we go. I gave people the following options for who they would like to see as Drake; Nolan North (mo-cap), Nolan North (live action), Nathan Fillion, Ryan Culver, David Boreanaz, an unknown, or another known actor.
This I found very interesting. 40% of people want to see Nolan North (equally split between mo-cap and live action.) This is more than twice the next choice. Second place was tied (16% each) between… Nathan Fillion and Ryan Culver. Ryan Culver. He does one commercial and as many people want to see him as want to see Nathan Fillion. That’s how awesome he was/is. The other name that came up more than once was James Roday. Otherwise, It’s North, Culver and Fillion in the battle of the Drakes.
Finally; I wanted to know what you guys thought would make an excellent Uncharted film, for you. The top answer is one I could kiss each and every one of you for selecting; 81% of people want Dame Amy Hennig to write it. Maybe we need to make this into a petition. Golden Abyss of course was not written by Amy, but you only have to see what ideas she rejected (as consultant) and why to know that she cares deeply for the continuous narrative. Having her as a consultant on the script for the movie would, I believe, be acceptable (Golden Abyss was very successful) but to have her write the whole thing herself would make a lot of people very happy. Myself included.
The other most popular options included the need for Naughty Dog to be as involved as possible, Nolan North being in it, and any writer/director needs to know as much as they possibly can about the existing narrative and lore as is humanly possible.
So to conclude; Uncharted fans want an Uncharted movie. Particularly if it is actually Uncharted, and not a generic Hollywood film riding on Naughty Dog’s coattails. Who knew? This may not rock boats, but I was surprised.