Uncharted is More Enjoyable Than Lackluster Reviews Indicate

I have seen Uncharted, and despite a few criticisms, I can say with a straight face that I enjoyed this big-screen iteration of the popular Naughty Dog video game. No, it’s not perfect. Yes, it makes the same mistakes as other video game adaptations, but as a mid-February distraction, the Ruben Fleischer pic delivers and sets up a universe worth revisiting later on down the road.

Critics mostly disagree. As of this writing, Uncharted holds a meager 39% and 5.2/10 average score on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, “Promisingly cast but misleadingly titled, Uncharted mines its bestselling source material to produce a disappointing echo of superior adventure films.”

I didn’t have much expectation going into Uncharted because, at this point, I know what to expect whenever Hollywood tries to adapt a video game. I’ve seen enough films like Doom, Tomb Raider, and Mortal Kombat to last a lifetime. My brain is numb from disappointment. While Uncharted certainly doesn’t break new ground, compared to other video game adaptations it’s practically a home run, if not a nice chip to center field.

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Sure, Uncharted does that thing where we spend the entire movie waiting for the hero to finally turn into the hero we came to see, but when the moment arrives and those involved in the production finally let loose in an exciting third act, the results are as enjoyable as one would expect.

I agree that up until that point the pic had mostly lumbered along the exposition highway. Much of the action and intrigue in the first two acts, namely a long sequence in which our explorers discover a secret chamber that has somehow stayed hidden from the world despite its location roughly ten feet under a Papa Johns, is quite lackluster; and aided considerably by Holland’s natural charisma and Wahlberg’s do-or-die approach to the material. The pair of actors make for an enjoyable odd couple with their “juvenile bickering,” as one critic put it, offering enough chuckles to hold audience intrigue through the slower bits.

There are also plenty of head-scratching beats, such as a confusing subplot involving Antonio Banderas that I’m not sure I totally understood and a running joke about Mark Wahlberg and a pet cat that never fully gels.

All in all, though, Uncharted deserves more credit than critics seem willing to give it. I didn’t find the film any better or worse than many of Marvel’s big-screen offerings, which consistently get praised for their “bold visions” and “wacky humor.” I have a hunch many critics look at video game films the way they used to view comic book flicks, and it will likely take a gargantuan success along the lines of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight before many warm to the idea of something like an Uncharted trilogy.

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Comparatively, Sonic the Hedgehog earned a modest 63%, while 2018’s lackluster Tomb Raider and even the recent Mortal Kombat somehow received more positive reviews than Uncharted and sit at 54% and 52%, respectively. In fact, Uncharted’s 39% score places it alongside The Angry Birds Movie (43%), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (37%), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (37%), and Resident Evil (36%).

That doesn’t seem right, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. Go watch the film for yourself and determine your own opinion. Again, I’m not calling Uncharted a misunderstood masterpiece. As a film, it has its shortcomings, but it’s also a nice step in the right direction for the video game genre and certainly deserving of higher praise than many seem willing to give it.


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