Recently, video game movies have been doing pretty well! Both Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog have enjoyed financial success and earned some half-decent reviews from lots of critics, myself included. Movies like Dragon Quest: Your Story and Ni No Kuni, both on Netflix, have also done fairly well for themselves, although they haven’t been as successful as their live-action counterparts. We live in truly bizarre times.
But there’s one game movie that won’t be continuing that trend. Which is strange, considering how well the series lends itself to cinematic form. And that movie is the live-action Uncharted movie.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an Uncharted fan. I hated Uncharted 1 and I didn’t show it any mercy in my review a few weeks ago. As of me writing this, I’m only about one-third of the way through Uncharted 2; while I do like it significantly more than the first game, I still hesitate to say that I love it. As for Uncharted 3 or 4… well, hard to talk about games I haven’t played yet.
Hearing that, you may think I’m writing this purely out of spite. ‘You only think it will fail because you don’t like the series!’ is probably what you’re saying. And yes, that’s a fair assumption. However, that’s actually very far from the case. I believe that Uncharted could lend itself super well to a live-action movie!
The games excell at cinematic storytelling. Not just because it goes for a photo-realistic style, especially in the later games. But when you play an Uncharted game, it feels like you’re playing through a movie! All of the cutscenes feel ripped straight out of a movie scene, some of the gameplay moments are cinematic as fuck (moments like the helicopter fight from Uncharted 2), the dialogue would lend itself amazingly towards an engaging script, and the stories are basically just Indiana Jones! Personally, I think Uncharted would have worked better as a movie than it does as a video game!
But there’s a problem. Or really, a series of problems. Few of which are available to public knowledge. But we do know one crucial thing.
This movie just can’t get a fucking director! So far, they’ve cycled through not one, not two, but six different directors for the film! We haven’t even seen a trailer yet and already the head-honcho has been replaced half a dozen times! Just look at this list of names!
- David O. Russell
- Neil Burger
- Seth Gordon
- Shawn Levy
- Dan Trachtenberg
- Travis Knight
For those of you who aren’t familiar with any of these directors, let me break down some of their work. I’ll leave links to all the sources at the bottom, in case you want to dig deeper for yourself. But the gist of it is like this.
David O. Russell is an experienced director with a decent catalog of movies. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of them, so I can’t judge their quality. But they’ve all gotten middling to decent reviews. They include films like Three Kings, The Fighter, and American Hustle.
Neil Burger is in a similar boat, only he hasn’t been directing for nearly as long. Again, his films generally have middling reviews. This time, however, I can judge one of them. He was the director of Divergent, AKA dollar-store Hunger Games (so the shittier version of something already pretty shitty), which was a pretty weak film in my opinion. Frankly, I’m kind of glad he didn’t stick around.
Seth Gordon has been in the director’s seat for less time than either of the aforementioned directors. He mostly specializes in television and cheap comedies. He directed a few episodes of Parks and Recreation, as well as the movies Horrible Bosses and Baywatch (2017). So… he’s not an especially good movie director, in my opinion.
Shawn Levy is probably the most accomplished director to helm the project, at least up to this point. He directed the Night in the Museum trilogy, which isn’t an especially strong thing to put on your resume. However, he also directed a few episodes of Stranger Things and, get this, the Animorphs TV show! Still, much like Seth Gordon, he mainly specialized in cheap comedy movies. Maybe not the best fit for something like Uncharted.
Dan Trachtenberg is the least accomplished director, with very few projects to his name. However, some of those projects are pretty notable! He directed an episode of The Boys and Black Mirror, both pretty big and successful shows. He was also the director behind 10 Cloverfield Lane, which I’ve heard some fairly good things about. His resume is short, but it is a bit more comforting than some of the other guys.
Travis Knight is probably the most interesting director on this project. So far, he’s only directed two full movies: Bumblebee (not very hope-inspiring) and one of my favorite animated movies of the last decade: Kubo and the Two Strings! Oddly enough, his resume features more animation than it does directing. He was the head animator for Box Trolls, Paranorman, and Coraline, as well as an animator for Kubo. So we know he’s a damn good animator! But his current directing credits are one win and one loss.
The Uncharted movie hasn’t gotten very far in production. It’s been stuck in production hell for god knows how long! We still haven’t even seen a single frame of footage from it! Yet it’s already gone through all of these guys! I’m pretty sure that’s some kind of a record!
Under normal circumstances, the director is changed only once, maybe twice. But in scenarios where that happens, the movie suffers considerably. Just look at Justice League! Zack Snyder had a vision, then Joss Wheadon had a different one! When Zack left the project and Joss was put in charge, their two ideals for the film clashed, creating a messy, directionless movie! It became a total mess!
Now imagine that but six times over!
Six fucking people have put their vision towards this movie. And all of them have turned away from the project. This could be for many reasons; studio interference, scheduling errors, anything really. Whatever the reason, the movie is going to suffer for it. A lot.
This movie already had its work cut out for it. People love the Uncharted games a lot, so they’d set their expectations high. But with the movie being so fractured, so plagued with problems, that it moves through so many directors before it even gets off of the ground? That is a bad sign right there!
At this point, the fate of the film is questionable. Maybe it won’t even come out! Maybe it will and it will just fly under our radars! Or maybe, and this is the one I’m hoping for, the studio releases a wildly flawed, disconnected piece of shit that people can point and laugh at for years to come!
Or maybe Naughty Dog will just say “Fuck it!” and just make an animated movie in-house. Which, now that I say that out loud, it actually sounds pretty good!