Street-smart Nathan Drake, is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan, and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada. (from IMDB)
Despite how poor the history of movies based on video games is, film studios continue to make them. However, if there’s ever been a video game franchise that seems ready for the big screen, I’d have to agree it would be Playstation’s Uncharted series. Part Indiana Jones, part Tomb Raider, the Uncharted series revolves around a character named Nathan Drake – a fortune hunter who frequently partners with the wrong crowd as he searches for lost treasures from centuries past. Nathan is like a mix of both Indiana Jones and Han Solo, with a look and personality that eerily mirrors actor Nathan Fillion (who actually played the character in a short fan film). To bring the character to the big screen for the first time, however, is none other than Spider-Man actor Tom Holland as a younger version of Nathan. Clearly, Sony hopes this is a movie franchise that could endure, and it definitely could be possible.
Uncharted, though, as a movie, feels like a strange amalgamation of National Treasure, Tomb Raider, and, maybe 2005’s Sahara — or basically any treasure-hunting adventure movie since 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a distinct lack of originality that comes across while watching Uncharted. In some ways, it’s like a style of pop music you’ve heard many times over, but this is still a good version of it. Where Tomb Raider floundered in so many ways (not at the fault of Jolie or Vikander), Uncharted never stops being fun or entertaining. It’s funny without being goofy, but, like a video game, it begs for the suspension of disbelief in favor of extraordinary action set pieces — be it jumping from cargo pack to cargo pack dangling from a plane, or fighting on airborne pirate ships. It gets more fantastical by the film’s climax, but it never stops being enjoyable. A quick self-reminder that this is based on a video game makes some of the silliness make sense, but in the end, I couldn’t help but wish they’d kept the more grounded feel the movie started with to elevate it above the frivolities of a video game.
As a fan of the video games myself, I never would have imagined Holland in the central role, but he does a solid job nonetheless. I thought Mark Wahlberg and Holland were a great pair, and the duo really helped make the movie better than it is. They played off each other really well, and their chemistry made for some of the movie’s best moments. I also would never have picked Wahlberg for the role of “Sully,” based on the video game character; the gruff-voiced, mustached con-man doesn’t exactly give off a “Mark Wahlberg” kind of vibe. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer, Tati Gabrielle as Braddock, and Antonio Banderas as the main villain, Santiago Moncada. The plot has its fair share of twists and turns – some predictable and some actually surprising, underground National Treasure-style puzzles, and true-to-franchise Uncharted-style action.
My least favorite aspect of the Uncharted video games has always been its use of profanity. While they kept it rated “T” (for Teen), which left the “F” word out of play (which seems rare these days), every other PG-13 grade profanity was included, including quite a few uses of blasphemy. Uncharted, as a film, cools it a bit with the blasphemy, but there’s an ample supply of other cuss words, especially the “S” word. Admittedly, I had a hard time keeping up with everything, but there were nearly 30 uses of the “S” word and several uses of “S.O.B,” “h*ll,” “d*mn,” etc. There were 2 or 3 uses of Jesus’ name in vain, and a few uses of “G-d” as an exclamation. (Surprisingly, to me, I didn’t catch any use of “g*dd*mn,” which was a frequent one used in the game.) There isn’t any sexual content, although there’s some flirting and such, and most of the violence is pretty tame. The worst bit of violence, however, comes when a character’s throat is cut. In some cinematic instances, such violence can be pretty gory. Here, it’s shown as mostly just a bloody line across the victim’s throat, but they show it several times. And just when you think they’ve shown it enough… they show it again. It’s a somewhat surprising moment too, so most viewers will probably find it unexpected. Other than this bloody moment, the only other blood shown in the movie is through a couple scrapes on both Nathan’s and Sully’s heads.
While it’s far from a train wreck, Uncharted won’t be changing many minds regarding the success of video games turned into feature movies. Maybe it was Ramin Djawadi’s lackluster, phoned-in score that didn’t help it (he can be a great composer when he wants to be), Ruben Fleischer’s direction choices, or some of the movie’s silly plot points, but Uncharted falls just shy of being really good. Still definitely entertaining and an enjoyable treasure-chasing adventure movie, Uncharted may scratch the itch of anyone waiting for that new Indiana Jones movie or something along the lines of National Treasure or Tomb Raider, but those looking for something fresh and exciting probably are going to leave this one feeling a little like they were the ones who got robbed.
By the way, if you’re wondering about post-credits scenes, there’s an extra scene right at the end, and then one mid-way through the credits that teases a potential follow-up story.
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/19/22)
4K UHD Special Features Review
Uncharted is out now in 4K, Blu-Ray, DVD and through digital retailers. The Blu-Ray special features, and iTunes digital copy, include the following:
Uncharted in 4K UHD (1:55:57) – I saw Uncharted again recently when it was the second feature at the drive-in. I definitely enjoyed it better the second time around. For its disc release, the movie looks great in 4K UHD, although I would venture to say it doesn’t look too much different than in regular HD. However, things like the background, water, and sparks do pop out in this format. I recently watched Black Widow again at home, but on 4K UHD disc for the first time, and I was surprised how blown-out the picture looked. It was vivid, but it looked overly saturated. I probably have my 4K player set to be a bit more saturated, but most movies look crisp and colorful, like Uncharted (and not like how Black Widow did). It surprises me how the visual settings can shift from movie to movie. I’ve found the washed-out look Black Widow had to be unusual (and not the norm), where most movies (including other Marvel movies) look great. All that to say – Uncharted does look strong in 4K UHD.
As far as the movie itself, I think it’s a fun one. The constant swearing still irks me and isn’t necessary for the movie, though. I would be curious to see if the success of Uncharted warrants a sequel, and if it does, hopefully they might tone down the language a bit at least. I think the movie does a decent job capturing the spirit of the video games – which really are great – and I wouldn’t mind seeing Uncharted blossom into a successful franchise.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:59) – There are 8 deleted or extended scenes with a Play All option. In “Museum Deleted Scene” (1:16), we see young Nate looking at exhibits after hours and his brother surprises him to try to keep him from being found by the night guard. (1 “bad-ss”) “Original Sully Intro” (1:49) is the scene frequently shown in the trailer where the two meet at the bar and playfully poke fun at each other. (1 “d*mn”) “Private Plane Extended Cut” (1:33) has just a little bit more dialog between the two as they look at clues for finding the treasure. (1 “S” word) “Extended Safe House and Balcony” (3:27) is an interesting scene. After Sully curls up on the couch following expressing concern for his cat, Chloe and Nate leave the room and talk out on the balcony. Sully then gets up and snoops through Chloe’s stuff. It’s actually a decent scene they could have left in, but I understand why it was cut. “Braddock Finds Sully Outside the Antechamber” (1:09) takes place after Chloe gets away. As Sully stands over the opening in the street, Braddock shows up and tries to kill him, so he dives into the hole to evade the gunfire (4 “S” words). “Inside the Car Trunk” (0:37) is a funny little scene where the two are stuck inside the trunk of the red car and complaining about being cramped. “Nate Finds Magellan’s Note” (0:33) is just a very brief moment where Nate finds a wax seal with Magellan’s initials on it. “Alternate Barcelona Arrival” (0:36) is just an additional walk-and-talk scene as Sully and Nate arrive in Barcelona, chatting about the tree in the journal. (1 “S” word)
Behind the Scenes
Never a Dull Moment: Stunts and Action (5:54) is about the crazy stunts in the movie, the different fighting styles of the characters, and the actors doing as many stunts as they could on their own. (1 “bad-ss,” 2 “S” words)
Villains Backstabbers and Accomplices (4:21) profiles the characters in the films, including Braddock’s unusual henchmen. (1 “S” word)
Charting the Course: Onset with Ruben Fleischer (4:28) – Here, director Ruben Fleischer talks about how his favorite movie of all time is “Indiana Jones” (I assume he meant Raiders of the Lost Ark) and how getting to direct Uncharted was a dream job. He details some cool Easter eggs here too. (1 “S” word)
The Buddy System (3:49) … Here, they talk about the chemistry between the Tom and Mark, and how a lot of their banter was improvised. (4 “S” words a bunch of other bleeped-out profanity)
Becoming Nathan Drake (4:00) compares the movie to the game a lot and draws some neat similarities. We also learn that Mark was originally supposed to play Nathan in the early stages of planning the movie, but they ended up casting Tom instead so it could be more of an origin story. (1 “a” word)
Big Action Breakdown: C-17 Globemaster (5:03) – This featurette is really cool. To create the C-17 Globemaster plane sequence, they built pieces of the plane as sets and built the supply boxes on factory arms so the actors could perform on the boxes as if they’re trailing behind the plane. Tom mentions that he did the most wire work ever on this movie–which says a lot considering he played Spider-Man. (1 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “Oh G-d”)
Music Video (2:38) – This is the song “No Mind” by Milkblood, a dance-y, autotune-heavy pop song… for those who are into that.
Theatrical Marketing (4:27) – These are short little promo videos created for the movie. You can watch them individually or with the Play All option.
Just a Little Charted (1:37) features Tom and Mark talking about the story, what the word “uncharted” means, and how it’s based on the popular video game.
Bromantic (0:58) is a cute Valentine’s Day promo where Tom tries to describe the movie as “bromantic” and Mark isn’t having it. (1 “a” word)
Harry & Tom (1:07) – Tom’s brother Harry relays Tom’s stunt itinerary to him, and we see clips of Tom performing said stunts.
Stunts (0:45) features Tom talking about how intense the action was and how the airplane scene was the hardest stunt sequence he’s ever had to do. (1 “Oh G-d”)
Lastly, there’s a feature Director Commentary (1:55:57) with Ruben Fleischer.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/18/22)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Sully makes some comments to suggest that he and Braddock had had a fling at some point. During a very physical fight scene between the two of them, he jokes about them being together before; We see Nathan without his shirt on several times; Nathan taunts a man while making drinks during a fight and asks him if his drink of choice is “sex on the beach”; Chloe is shown in a wet tank top a couple times.
Vulgarity/Language: A semi-rough estimate – 28 “S” words, 3 “S.O.B,” 3 “d*mn,” 3 “J-sus,” 8 “h*ll,” 3 “a” words, 1 “G-d,” 5 “Oh my G-d,” 2 “Oh G-d,” 2 “p*ss,” 5 “cr*p,” 2 “suck(s)”
Alcohol/Drugs: Nathan is a bar tender and we see him mixing and serving drinks several times during the movie; During a fight scene, Nathan squirts alcohol into his mouth so he can spit it out and ignite it; A character asks another person “Are you high or something?” in a disbelieving response to something they said.
Blood/Gore: Nathan has some blood on his forehead after being hit in the head; Sully has some blood on his head after being hit; A character suddenly slices the throat of another character. We don’t see it in detail, but we see the dead body on the ground several times afterwards with blood across their neck (there is nothing explicit or gory about the cut beyond the blood, though)
Violence: There are several scenes of action violence; Nathan is chased through a banquet where he fights off multiple guards. He then jumps onto a light fixture which crashes in pieces to the ground; A person slices another person’s throat, but we only hear it; Sully and Braddock have a brutal fight in a restaurant with the twosome throwing each other around and getting pretty beat up. Sully throws her through a glass window; Two people are seen nearly drowning before they escape; A person strikes another person in the face with a gun to knock them out; A person suddenly slices another person’s throat and we see the victim’s dead body with blood on their neck; We see people fly out of the cargo hold of an airplane, presumably falling to their death; As Nathan hangs from cargo that is trailing outside an airplane high in the sky, he scrambles to get back in the plane. He ends up having to fight off a few thugs in the process, with some falling to their deaths; A car hits Nathan as he’s climbing back in the plane and it pushes him back outside (we see portions of this sequence a few times); A man and woman fall through the air towards the ground but are saved by a parachute just in time; Two copters haul two ancient pirate ships into the air and the crew on both ships end up fighting a couple people who try to take control of one of the ships. In the process, some men fall off the ship to their death (which we do not see). A helicopter ends up crashing and exploding; One of the pirate ships crashes into the ocean on top of a person, presumably crushing them; And other fantasy adventure violence.