Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blog Post: Gotta give props to Uncharted film director David O. Russell

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In what was a surprise to pretty much nobody, an Uncharted film adaptation was announced a little while back. This is a series that saw a huge surge in popularity with its 2nd installment, and so the fact that Hollywood is eager to cash in on the property is just par for the course.

What does surprise me, though, is that critically acclaimed director, David O. Russell, who's just coming off the very well-received film The Fighter, will be the director of the project, and it's rare to see such an artsy director interested in bringing a video game to the screen. My excitement quickly faded, though, when he began speaking about his plans for the movie.

Granted, I have never played either of the Uncharted games, so I am in no way attached to the game and have no idea how different his plans are from how the actual games are. That said, I know what it's like to see a game I like turned into a shitty movie (Max Payne, for example,) one that's not at all faithful to the game, and that's always hard to deal with. Hearing fans and actually even some in the industry press, like Adam Sessler and other big publications, trash Russell's plans for the movie, including the casting of Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake (and even having not played the game, this raises red flags, as I know Nathan Drake's nothing like Mark Wahlberg) makes me annoyed that this looked to be yet another casualty of Hollywood's attempts to lure video gamers into a movie that's terrible.

What happened, though, is that David O. Russell recently addressed all this bad press, and I have to say, what he said took a lot of, well, bravery, and it's allowed me to sort of step back and even maybe trust this guy to make a great movie.

 “I’m not going to present myself as hardcore. But I played the game a bunch of times and I also read as much as I could about the game and I met the game’s creator, Amy Hennig, who’s really cool.”

“To grow a game into a movie is an interesting proposition because a game is a very different experience than a movie." “You guys are playing the game, and it’s about playing the game. It’s not about a narrative embracing you emotionally. You know what I’m saying? So, I want to create a world that is worthy of a really great film."

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m very respectful as far as the core content and sprit of the game, but beyond that it’s my job as a filmmaker to make what I think is going to be an amazing movie..."


So here's what I like about this....he seems incredibly confident in his abilities to turn this into not just another crappy video game adaptation, but a great film. And this is a guy who knows how to make a great film. He's frank with the audience, explaining that video games generally don't translate well into film, that more work is required to develop a world that works for film.

Is he right? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But I have to say, after reading these words, I feel like I have no choice but to trust that he will be delivering a great movie based on the acclaimed video game series. I would disagree with him that video games can't grab you emotionally (the ending of Final Fantasy 10, for example, grabbed me emotionally in a way that few movies ever have) but I can actually see and get what he's saying about video game movies and about how maybe you just can't make a great movie while trying to be overly-faithful to the game. At the same time, he says he respects the game and will try to tell a story faithful to the game.

At the very least, I can't wait to see a trailer.

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