Over the past few days I’ve watched the Indiana Jones movies. Yep, all three of the Indiana Jones films. I’m so glad Spielberg left it at those three 80s adventure flicks, and never decided to return to the franchise…
The campy action, explosive set-pieces and cartoonish characterisation from the first three films holds up brilliantly well. Which got me thinking about the Uncharted game series and rumoured film. Uncharted, rightfully, borrowed so many tropes from Spielberg throughout each of the five games. As well as peppering in its own brand of quick-witted dialogue, along with Neil Druckmann’s trademark emotional storytelling.
With a Spielberg directed and Ford fronted Indiana 5 set for a 2020 release, and an Uncharted movie stuck in development hell, I can’t help but wonder if Hollywood is backing the wrong franchise. I’m not sure how many movie-goers will be interested in the Jones brand once Ford hangs up his acting hat, and dramatic whip, for the last time.
Whereas a fully backed Uncharted franchise, with a younger established star as hero Nathan Drake, could provide a studio with a future 5-10 tentpole movies over the next couple of decades. Because that’s how things work now, you can’t just think about a stand-alone blockbuster.
5 Things We Need To See From An Uncharted Movie. Number Three Will Make You Want To Punch An Octopus!!!
1. Cartoonish action
One thing that makes Indiana Jones enjoyable to this day, is that at no point do the original films take themselves seriously. The action is can’t-miss, yet there’s an element of silliness to almost every sequence. Early Uncharted games mirror this slight campiness, with slapstick and ridiculous set-pieces being utilised effectively.
The last thing I want to see is a hyper-realistic, “dark” action movie that for some reason considers itself to be the peak of artistic cinema. A lot of DC movies and the recent Tomb Raider film fell into this trap. It needs to closely mirror a lot of the in-game action sequences. They should even look back to the opening train-chase scene of The Last Crusade for how a younger action character would behave when being chased by a threat much larger than himself.
We need brightly-lit, vibrant scenes of overtly-choreographed action that bleed seamlessly into each other, just as it would in a video game.
2. Chloe Frazer
The rebooted Lara Croft may be different, but her original characterisation was simply tits and an ass. She was meant as a sexy avatar that gamers could view as they played the game. This was before readily available pornography, so pixelated tits did a lot for some people. I’m- erm…told.
Enter Chloe Frazer, a character from the second, third and fifth Uncharted games who’s even more competent and capable than Nathan Drake. She’s framed as having looks, as is Drake, but her emotive backstory and competitive nature make her a well-rounded character when compared to the original Croft. As long as Lara is built on as a brand, we’re going to have backwards-thinking gamers boycott the film, due to her not being a pair of tits stuck to a broom handle. Establish Chloe Fraser, and these same people who don’t think women can be action stars will be tricked into seeing a female-led flick.
So I would build her as the secondary protagonist of the first film, so that she could take centre stage in the second. Uncharted started out as the Nathan Drake story, but over the years has become an ensemble group of adventurers, seeking the world’s most sought-after treasures.
Her inclusion in a prequel movie might ruin some of the cannon of the video games, but if the films are successful, then a separate canonical storyline can be established.
3. A Compelling, Possibly Cursed, Treasure
Each and every one of the Uncharted games pulls you into the historical lore of a certain region. Some of the treasures are based on true events, whereas others are taken from local myth and legend.
The film series would need to start out strong, with a recognisable ancient treasure being at the centre of the chase. Part of worked so well with the first and third Indiana Jones films was the use of Biblical treasures. They used some historical, archeological facts about the location and significance of the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, only to apply a realisation of myth and legend in the final act of each film.
It’s the blending of human history and mythology that makes both of these franchises so exciting. The idea that at any moment, something fantastical could happen and it would be believable. I’m not entirely sure which lost city they should focus on in the first film, but I do know that we need mythical creatures, an ancient curse or fantastical powers to be featured in the third act.
Also, that octopus over there just called you a prick. Go on, give it a smack.
4. Greatness From Small Beginnings
The revelations of Nathan’s past that are made in the fourth game are some of the most emotive and inspiring scenes in video game history. They tease this idea that Nathan and his older brother, Sam, are descendants of Sir Francis Drake. Only to find that they aren’t. Instead, as orphaned children, they become driven by this idea that they get to make their own fortune. That they may not actually have Sir Francis as a biological ancestor, but why not take his name and become self-made men in their own time?
Sic Parvis Magna was the motto used by Sir Francis Drake, which is interpreted in the Uncharted games as “Greatness from Small Beginnings”. If the first film is to be a prequel, or at the very least the start of Drake’s story, we need to see that Nathan came from nothing, and that he is out to make his fortune.
It’s from this motto that he can struggle, at first, to work well with others. It can explain his mistrust for large organisations or those who’re seeking a wealth-driven glory. If Nathan’s motto is well established in the first act of the film, followed by a strong action sequence, we’ll learn everything we need to know about him in the first twenty-five minutes.
5. Nathan’s Antithesis
Building from that, we need to see an antagonist that is the polar-opposite of what Nathan stands for. The villain also needs to be an orphan, but one who along the way decided to build his or her fortune on the backs of others. They’re now financially rich, but morally bankrupt, as a result of exploiting the “fortunes” of others. The world was never there for them, so why should they be there for the world.
Nathan seeks personal glory, the treasure for him is uncovering the treasure itself. The villain simply sees the price-tag, but also gets off on the idea of crushing Nathan’s personal dreams, because they didn’t have the strength to live out their own.
On top of this, they could make the lead henchman a direct parallel to Chloe. Hell, make the henchman an evil Lara Croft-type. A spoiled, bratty girl who was dishonorably discharged from the army but found mercenary work. And perhaps she doesn’t wear as much clothing as she probably should. Have Chloe defeat and overcome her own backwards archetype.
At the time of writing, Tom Holland has been attached to the film to play the role of Nathan Drake. While I think this is great casting, it reeks of a studio just making talk, and that they have little intention of actually producing an Uncharted film in the foreseeable future. We’ve certainly seen it with many video game adaptations in the past.
No matter what happens with the project, they absolutely need to take lessons from the Indiana Jones films, and remember what made them fun in the first place.
So that means no aliens please.
Today is Sunday 3rd of June and you should always remember that Temple of Doom is a prequel.
Are you looking forward to a potential Uncharted movie? How would you like to see it play out? Let me know in the comments below!