With the announcement of another film adapted from a video game, Uncharted has an uphill battle to avoid the generally doomed attempts of other video game films, and director Dan Trachtenberg is attempting to avoid those issues by focusing on the events that happen before the story of the first game rather than adapt one of the stories from a game.
In speaking to GamesRadar, Trachtenberg states that instead of adapting the stories that already exist in each of the Uncharted games, presenting the earlier life of protagonist Nathan Drake is necessary because a straight adaptation would not do well with the available source material. He continues by saying, “[I] have been approached with different versions of this tale,” he says, “and have always been not that interested in it because I didn't really want to trace the game.”
The reasoning seems perfectly sound and is a good way to kick off production of the film. Some video game adaptations to film feel terrible because they attempt to recreate stories already experienced in the game, while others are simply poorly written, badly shot, overall disappointments in film making.
For Uncharted to do well, an original story is a good starting point, but so too is the vision of Trachtenberg. His first directing project was the well-made 10 Cloverfield Lane, which gained him a nomination for Outstanding Directing – First Time Feature Film.
If we want to consider a recent video game adaptation that has done reasonably well both commercially and by critical standards, we need look no further than Detective Pikachu. While ratings have been broad, ranging from those who loved it to those who found it underwhelming, the overall reception has not been terrible, which is more than many video game films can claim.
Detective Pikachu was taken down a similar route whereby the many subplots of the older movies, show episodes, and games were not used as the primary source material for the story. By creating something unique with the premise that a Pikachu would communicate with one human, and that the rest of the world truly felt like it would if Pokémon were real, the film succeeded in what it aimed to do.
If Uncharted follows a similar path, it is likely to be a film that can be enjoyed both by fans of the game and those unfamiliar with the various stories told in each of the games.
For now, we will wait and see how it turns out, as the film is due for a release in December of 2020 with Tom Holland taking on the role of Nathan Drake.