Uncharted Babies: coming soon to a theater near you.
Freshly Popped Culture became “Sony Popped Culture” so fast, I didn’t even notice.
Yes, it feels like every article I find time to write nowadays is about the spiraling state of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. But can you blame me? Everything this studio is currently planning just frankly fascinates me, from continued Ghostbusters projects to Venom standalones that I couldn’t even possibly imagine a target audience for. The company is very much looking for a hit franchise, and pretty much needs another one if it has any hopes of surviving past the end of the decade. It doesn’t take long for that desperation to become open flailing in the water, trying to keep the company’s head over the tide…of a franchise-run Hollywood, I guess. I’m kind of losing my metaphor here, I think.
But suffice to say, as I’ve written in my many articles covering the studio, Sony NEEDS a hit. And if they play their cards right, Uncharted could be exactly that. It has franchise potential written all over it: the name appeal is there, and the base concept (modern Indiana Jones, basically) has huge mainstream appeal. All Sony has to do is just write a fun adventure script, cast some good actors, and get a good director. The concept’s already strong — just put the damn pieces in place.
But Sony has been struggling with that for over a decade. In their typical fashion, the studio has been micro-managing the crap out of this movie, leading to what feels like dozens of different drafts and interpretations of this universe going in and out of existence. Remember David O. Russell’s “family of theives” caper? Yeah, it sounded pretty terrible…and was cancelled six years ago.
Since then, Sony has never stopped trying to get the film made, and has finally landed on screenwriter Joe Carnahan and director Shawn Levy to do it. It’s not the worst pairing in the world and, after such a long stretch of development, it finally seemed like Sony had landed on a no-fuss, simple version of the Uncharted story, one that would be a perfect fit for the big screen.
BUT, once again, Sony just wants to tear all that down again, and do something wildly different. Because if it isn’t broken, Sony will try to fix it anyways. And in this particular case? The fix comes in the form of the adventures of a young teenage Nathan Drake…played by none other than new Spider-Man Tom Holland.
The story was broken by Deadline, who claim that the decision came from (who else!) Sony chief Tom Rothman, who was so impressed by earlier cuts of Spider-Man: Homecoming that he decided Holland would be perfect to lead Sony’s other big franchise too. Forget the fact that the character in the game is nothing like Holland — when has the original source material ever been all that important to Sony anyways?
As you can probably tell, I think this is a terrible decision for a project that has already had a countless amount of them. My complaints don’t even have anything to do with Holland himself — he was great in Captain America: Civil War, and I’m sure he’ll be great in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But as Nathan Drake? Not only is it odd casting, but it’s also foolish on Sony’s part to think he can handle the series. Playing Spider-Man is going to keep the actor busy for a long time to come — is it really a great bet to stake the future of your potential franchise on the back of a guy whose already leading another? Spread the love, Sony — can you really not find another charismatic actor to lead this series?
And, finally, a note on the film industry in general: give us older men in our action movies, man. Why do many Hollywood film have to be led by a 20something dude, especially when the biggest franchises around prove to work far better with someone older? Robert Downey Jr. was nearly fifty when he made the first Iron Man, and the collective success of the MCU an be placed firmly on his back. Dwayne Johnson is one of the biggest stars on the planet, and he’s around the same age. Hell, the character who directly inspired Nathan Drake (the aforementioned Indiana Jones) was so interesting because he WAS a forty year old man — he had years of experience under his belt, which made him a joy to watch on screen. That’s not to say a young protagonist CAN’T work…but it is to say that a young protagonist isn’t Uncharted.
And that’s what I still can’t quite fathom about Sony’s whole development process on this film: it shouldn’t be this hard. Uncharted is such a wide open concept that can by its very nature support a bunch of adventures. Jesus Christ, just give us a 30 year old Nathan Drake, doing treasure hunting shit. Why do you have to make this whole thing harder for yourself?
Uncharted might end up still being a good movie — I never want to rule out the quality of a film months before it even starts to even film. But starring a 20 year old? It won’t be an adaptation of the game. And just like every other video game movie ever made, I just have to ask: why won’t Hollywood give us that? Fucking hell — what does the genre have to lose?