[Review] Uncharted: More Dora than Indiana Jones | campus.sg


By Darryl Goh

On paper, adapting a video game series into a film sounds like a surefire way to fill up cinemas. Gamers are already familiar with the characters and with source material enough to create a bundle collection, there are plenty of stories to inspire compelling scripts. Mess up the adaptation, however, and these gamers can quickly become the film’s greatest critics. 

Uncharted is not the first in a series of films to be based on successful video game franchises, but Playstation Productions now find themselves walking on eggshells within the gaming community and realising that turning video games into films is not as easy as it seems. Uncharted’s games have been lauded for raising the standards of video game storytelling, but the movie barely passes as an adventure film.

For one, the plot feels uninspiring as characters just seem to go through the motions. The two hours of treasure-hunting is dull when compared to the games’ plotlines, devoid of twists to keep viewers at the edge of their seats. This is less of Indiana Jones and more Dora the Explorer, with Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) being able to decipher century-old puzzles within just 30 seconds of looking at them.

Maybe it was because of how easy the codes were cracked that Mark Wahlberg did not feel the need to give more than two facial expressions. Sucking the life out of the character Victor Sullivan, Wahlberg is a liability in the otherwise talented cast that at least tried to inject some emotion into their roles. 

But even talented acting cannot save the film from a bizarre script, which makes Jo Braddock’s (Tati Gabrielle) intelligence fluctuate from brilliant to dumb. There was a scene where she and her goons let Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) slip through right before their very eyes, only for her to say almost embarrassingly, “where’s Frazer?” 

The only redeeming parts of this film are the action scenes. Explosive and progressively high stakes, they sadly come few and far between as solving ancient puzzles is more of a priority. Some fights feel forced into the plot, so even if they are a nice break from the monotony of treasure-hunting, some suspension of logic is needed to truly enjoy them.

Some subtle nods to the Uncharted games are also a nice touch. Drake’s voice actor Nolan North and a popular Uncharted streamer make cameo appearances, which would have elevated this film to iconic status if only it got the basics right. 

There may be another shot for Drake and Sullivan to woo viewers again, as the post-credits scene hints at a potential sequel. If it does get greenlit, the film crew should seriously consider getting Uncharted’s game creator Amy Hennig onboard, or at the very least vet the script, lest they mess up these well-beloved characters again. 

This review may sound harsh, but gamers expected better.