'Uncharted' (And All Video Game Movies) Keep Making The Same Mistake
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Despite having a great cast and an obviously huge sum of money behind it, the Uncharted film couldn't avoid getting lambasted by critics the exact same way all other video game film adaptations do. Why? People have been hating on it even long before the release of any promotional material because Tom Holland was too young, but they said the same about him as Spider-Man, so that's probably not it. I want to share why I believe video game film adaptations will always suck.
Yes, always. Don't come at me with that “the first Resident Evil movie was good” garbage.
See, games are very good at fooling movie studios into thinking they can pull off the execution when it's impossible, regardless of talent and intent. The video game industry makes more money than the movie industry and the cartography industries combined, so it's expected that Hollywood would like to get in on that gamer money, especially now that there are so many cinematic video games out there. Adaptations seem like money waiting to be printed.
But what if the seemingly movie-worthy aspects of games are the very thing that makes them crash and burn? The cinematic aesthetic of many games is actually a trap that fools studios into believing that games with a cinematic feel will translate into cinema, and out of nowhere the characters who're meant to be trotting the entire world find themselves stuck in an uncanny valley because, despite visually stunning, all action scenes look incredibly dumb when you get to pay attention to them instead of having to focus all of your gamer brain on surviving them.
This couldn't be more obvious than in the plane scene from Uncharted 3, a set piece so eye-catching that they obviously thought they should put it in the film.
It's a really cool set piece to play through, but it's one even dumber than the decision of calling your movie Uncharted and then putting the name of the most well-known destinations on the poster. In the game, free-falling Nathan Drake gets hit by a huge crate that instead of instantly sending him to a continue screen, actually saves him because of a parachute Drake so conveniently manages to find in it.
But the games have an excuse. The people behind the series waited until the third game before they started to include such absurd scenes. The only reason fans tolerated something so stupid is because they were already fans by then. When you go to see the film and you see its even more unrealistic take on the scene, most moviegoers won't just stay in for the ride because they're fans of the series, they will just find themselves bewildered by the stupidity they're being subjected to.
If you want to turn a game into a movie, a good option would be using something you like from a game and adding something original, like what the Marvel films have been doing with the Metal Gear Solid series for a while. Another good option would be to adapt small games that can be expanded upon instead of just copied and pasted onto the big screen. An excellent example is the short inspired by the indie hit Papers, Please that you can see below:
Even better advice for people who want to turn games into movies would be: don't. Games do things that movies can't, and that's actually pretty cool.
Top Image: Sony Pictures