A New Director and a New Script Welcome the Approval From the Fans of Naughty Dog's Flagship Uncharted Series.
by guest writer Ryan Keeler
The people have spoken and Sony and Columbia Pictures have listened! After announcement earlier this year that director, David O. Russell, was developing the script for the movie adaptation of the critically acclaimed, PS3 hit, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, blogs erupted with fan comments. Die-hard fans of this video game franchise all knew the potential of Nathan Drakeâ€™s character on the big screen, drawing strong comparisons to Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. After leaks of the direction Russell wanted to go with his Uncharted script, Nathan Drake fans and creators voiced their disproval, virtually sending Russell and his script packing and bringing director, Neil Burger, in do the job correctly.
The success and popularity of the Uncharted video game series, quite possibly makes Nathan Drake one of the most popular characters of Playstation 3 ever. With Naughty Dog's November 1st release of Uncharted's third installment, Drake's Deception, its concept and fan base is at an all time high. That being said, the demand for more Nathan Drake is apparent, and the obvious next move is a big screen adaptation. Sony and Columbia Pictures agreed and hired David O. Russell to direct. With Russell just off an Academy Award nomination for his work on The Fighter last year, Sony felt like they nabbed the director that could successfully transition Drake from the small screen to the big screen. What Sony didn't know was that Russell wanted to go completely away from the video game's story and bring his favorite actor to work with, Mark Whalberg, along for the ride. To quickly express how disastrous these two decisions would be to the franchise, let's recap how Russell's vision really could affect the Uncharted movie:
1. Russell had the idea of writing a script that made Uncharted more of a family piece than an action/adventure film. He wanted to create Drake as a member of a family of antique traders and bring in strong roles to play his father and uncle. Rumor had it that, Russell had contacted Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci to play his father and uncle respectively, which at first glance sounds amazing! But looking more into it, a Scorsese reunion of this dynamic duo would take away tremendously from what this movie is really meant to be, a new franchise about an â€œordinary guyâ€ with a thirst for treasure hunting and adventure.
2. Russell was dead set on casting Mark Whalberg as Nathan Drake. With past success in movies such as Three Kings, The Fighter, and I Heart Huckabees, Russell's rapport with Whalberg is unprecedented and made his dedication to him warranted. But bringing a video game character to life on the big screen is difficult, and everyone remembers (and probably is trying to forget) Mr. Whalberg's first attempt at this with the big budget flop, Max Payne.
Naughty Dog and fans worldwide, voiced their opinions and Sony was forced to listen. It was clear that Russell's vision wasn't what the world wanted for this franchise, brining forth the decision to introduce Neil Burger to take the reigns. Burger doesn't have as many films under his belt as Russell, but he has success in writing and directing, and is known for his most recent work with Edward Norton in The Illusionist and Bradley Cooper in Limitless. Most importantly, Burger wants to stay true to the Uncharted story line that progresses through the three video games. When the people of Naughty Dog created Nathan Drake, they had a vision of an â€œordinary guyâ€ that people could relate to. They used such actors as Jonny Knoxville, Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis, and took their best attributes to create Drake. Dressing him in a shirt and jeans, and giving him a strong personality with hints of sarcasm, makes for a new classic, adventure movie character that fans will fill theatre seats for. Burger has stressed wanting to make an adaptation that compares to the Indiana Jones character, a character in which the movies has lacked for some time now.
With Naughty Dog giving two thumbs up of approval on the new script's direction, Burger has the difficult task of casting an actor that not only will appease the video game's fans, but can also attract the movie-goers that don't even know who Nathan Drake is. At the top of the fan's list sits Nathan Fillion, known for his work on Castle, Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series'. His Firefly movie adaptation, Serenity, has also made him a Comic-Con God and an easy front-runner to bring Nathan Drake to life. When asked about the possibilities of this challenge, Fillion said:
"I am certainly still interested in playing Nathan Drake. I think every actor I know wants [his] action-adventure hero, [his] Indiana Jones. That would be a good one for me, I think. What I don't want is people pressuring that poor man [director Neil Burger] and souring him on the actual idea. If we could somehow justâ€¦ do you remember the movie Inception? I think that's what we need to do. We need to let him land on the idea on his own."
Can Fillion successfully create a character that the world can relate to? The movie's desperately needs an everyday guy, turned adventurer/treasure hunter that can compare to the likes of Indiana Jones. We finally have the medium and story with the Uncharted concept, the director in Burger that wants to stay true to this story, and possibly the actor in Fillion that is passionate about the character. Let's just hope he can replicate what an unknown actor at the time, Harrison Ford, did for movies, in creating the pop-icon the world has been thirsty for since The Last Crusade came out in 1989.