When you think of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series of action-adventure games, what comes to mind? Treasure hunting? Riddles obscured by legendary figures? Nicholas Cage mugging into the camera every few moments while John Voight silently wonders where his acclaimed career went wrong? Alright, forget that last one. Otherwise that’s a pretty solid descriptor for Uncharted, isn’t it? As it turns out, that’s also a great synopsis for the National Treasure movie franchise.
What’s the point, you ask? Well, it seems that Sony Pictures has noticed the similarities between the two media properties and took the totally logical initiative to hire the people responsible for writing the two National Treasure films to create a screenplay for the studio’s upcoming film adaptation of the Uncharted games. Variety reports:
Scribes Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, who were the architects of Disney’s “National Treasure” franchise, have been tapped to rewrite “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” for Sony Pictures, Atlas Entertainment and Arad Prods.
Unfortunately, in that same report Variety also reveals that Neil Burger is no longer attached to the film as director. Though far from a household name, Burger is a competent director and seemed like a solid candidate for the position, and losing him must be seen as a set back for the project.
Additionally, Burger’s departure points out why we’re totally apathetic about the news that the Wibberleys have been tasked with writing the script for Uncharted: It makes little difference who writes this film as long as it has a good director and/or stars. If you’ve played the Uncharted games you already know how cinematic they are. Naughty Dog built these games to replicate Indiana Jones-style adventure movies and few would claim that it failed. Writing a script for an Uncharted film should be as simple as following the tropes established by the Uncharted games, dropping in ample amounts of fan service, and making sure that the historical figures referenced in the flick have been dead long enough to seem spooky and mysterious to today’s uneducated populace.
The director and actors however, have to both provide a believable portrayal of events that occasionally veer toward the silly and offer a suitable aesthetic replacement for the locales and characters seen in the game. Discounting Nathan Fillion — too obvious — can you think of any male actors who could play the lovably roguish Nathan Drake? We can think of a few to play his older pal Sully, but now that Ernest Borgnine is dead we’ve lost our first choice. Likewise worrying, the film’s producers have to find a director capable of aping a game series that is itself effectively an homage to Indiana Jones — a movie directed by Stephen Spielberg. Granted, that’s a whole lot easier than trying to directly one-up Mr. Spielberg, but there’s still only a short list of people we’d trust to competently helm this movie and most of them are likely far outside Sony’s price range.
Then again this project is very early in development, so a lot could change before it hits theaters. Hopefully the next blurb of info we get on the Uncharted film is a bit more reassuring.