After 15 years of false starts, Unknown finally came out on the big screen. The filming with Tom Holland as Nathan Drake is now in theaters, giving rise to an expanded PlayStation media strategy. It has everything you expect from a high-budget blockbuster: stars that can be highlighted, bright scenery and a funny product layout.
There is only one problem: it does not hold a candle to the games on which it is based. It’s not so much a pity of the film as a compliment to the games. The Uncharted 15 Years series has established itself as the most cinematic series in games. It does not have such stars as Holland, but its scenery is larger and more exciting than the usual blockbuster.
The filming of Uncharted highlights an awkward reality for Hollywood. When it comes to high-budget spectacle, movies are no longer the best way to deliver action. Video games have supplanted them after a decade of trying to imitate.
When Uncharted: Fortune Drake first launched in 2007, it was an ambitious release. It captivated Indiana Jones from Treasure Hunt and put it in an eight-hour video game. It wasn’t a perfect first project (who can forget zombie-like descendants?), But it was a turning point for the industry. This has shown that video games can be more than silly entertainment with strong writing, well-developed characters and exciting action.
For the next decade, developer Naughty Dog is perfecting his skills with each game. Uncharted 2: Among the Thieves caused a thrill by opening the game with an unforgettable sequence of trains that is still impressive to this day. Uncharted 3: Cheating Drake cut down on supernatural stupidity to focus more on the arcs of his characters. And Uncharted 4: The End of the Thief brought it all home, bringing an equally stunning spectacle and personal story.
Uncharted 4 had a big impact on the film, and director Ruben Fleischer noted that this is his favorite in the series (he calls the chase for the car in the game the best chase for the car in any medium, games or otherwise). This is manifested not only in extravagance, but also in calmer moments of character. Most notably, the film opens with reminiscences of the time of Nathan Drake at the convent, which pulled directly from Uncharted 4.
“The games are so exciting and already so cinematic. The action is above the quality of the film, ”Fleischer told me when we did told about the movie on the eve of its release.
This is the last part that affects me the most because he is right. As you improve the graphics and increase the budget you like the game Uncharted 4 now represent players with unlimited excitement. There would seem to be no limits to what games can provide, breaking the rules of reality and physics to create ingenious sequences on a massive scale.
Some things also work better in video games. Both Unknown movie and Uncharted 3 in the same sequence where Nathan Drake dangles from the back of the plane in mid-flight, clinging to the cargo. The game is a tense sequence, along with any trick “Mission Impossible”. In the film, this is relatively absurd. Excessive reliance on visual effects disrupts the reality of the sequence, making it clear that Holland is scrambling around a studio with a green screen.
It really seems to me that I have moved into some kind of mirror world when my criticism of the film is that it has worse graphics than the game on which it is based.
Games that improve their visual capabilities only put them on a par with movies, but it is interactivity that gives them a real advantage. After all, it’s more fun to feel like a militant hero than to watch someone have fun.
Players can take Nathan Drake’s place when playing Uncharted. They push the joystick forward to lift the flying load. They wave their fists at Nathan as he enters the fight, striking each blow with the push of a button. Video games provide an inherent layer of immersion that movies cannot provide.
This is not due to a lack of attempts. The rapture of Hollywood 3D is based on the idea of giving audiences a feel in space. This is a weak salon reception, especially given the current state of VR. Wearing glasses, seeing the images pop out Star Wars: Skywalker Rise not so much transportation as strapping Meta Quest 2 headset and flight on X-Wing Star Wars Squadrons.
None of this means that games are a better tool than movies. They are very different and each has its own strengths. Movies will always be a focused, less demanding means of storytelling. Games can be messy in comparison, especially in bloated open world games where the player becomes an author. But when we talk about high-budget blockbusters, we’re not discussing “high art” (it would be ridiculous to say that Game David Cage smarter than The power of the dog).
If I considered Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, I noted that it felt like “a full-scale Marvel movie has turned into a video game.” Long before that it creates stunning, leaps in size visual effects Spider-Man: No way home. And to be honest, the former fascinated me more than the latter. No way home there were a few hilarious scenes that made me happily cry popcorn, but Rift Apart this is one long magic show in which the tricks will never end.
Great studio action like Unknown it’s pure fun. The goal is to give the audience a fun escape by dazzling them with a spectacle. Modern games just offer a bigger buffet with “junk food” for a boring audience that can be eaten until they get sick.
Video games are beating Hollywood in their own game
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