Saturday, October 09, 2010

David O. Russell to seek Drake's Fortune

Oh, for the love of...

Y'know if someone was to make a list of video-games that ABSOLUTELY DO NOT NEED TO BE MADE INTO MOVIES, surely the "Uncharted" franchise would be right up there. Actually, thinking back on it, I DID make a list... and yeah, "Uncharted" was on it.

Back when I wrote that, an "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" movie was already being prepped with director and anger-managment-dropout David O. Russell set to helm once he'd finished up his Boston-Area boxing movie, "The Fighter" - which incidentally looks very good; though unfortunately I can already feel myself getting sick of the near-religious REVERENCE it's going to elicit from every tempermental whiteboy hoodlum in my general vicinity when it comes out. (Yeah, America? I know we're all in loooooove with Jeremy Renner in "The Town" but, trust me - in reality "that guy" gets soooo old after a few minutes.)

Heh. That's Christian Bale in there as Mark Whalberg's brother. What would you give to have been a fly on the wall had Russell pulled any of that "Huckabees" crap on his notoriously short-fused ass? Given that Russell reported has all of his extremities still attached, one has to assume they got on well enough...

In any case, "Uncharted" seemingly faded when Russell left to make "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" - but now he's quit that, too, and now THR says he's signed back on to bringing Nathan Drake to the screen. Fuck.

For those blissfully unaware, "Uncharted" is an Indiana Jones (if Dr. Jones lived in the present-day and were a complete douchebag) knockoff noteworthy mainly for graphics and for being among the rare non-Kratos-related PS3 exclusives anyone gives a damn about. The series is built around Nathan Drake; who distinguishes himself by being the single most emminently-hateable ostensible "good guy" in video game history outside maybe that dog from Duck-Hunt.


So... this is how it's gonna be, huh, Hollywood? Before I even get close to seeing a proper Mario, Luigi, Link, Zelda, Bowser, Ganon, Kirby, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Samus or any of a thousand video game personas more deserving of cinematic realization onscreen... I have to get Nathan FUCKING Drake first. Great. Super. Can't fuckin' wait.

The search will now be on for the "right" actor for the lead, as the filmmakers go through the motions of pretending that Nathan Drake can't just be played by any generic young-ish white guy.


Alexander said...

Aside from your comments on the quality of the Uncharted games, you're completely right. That game spent so much time and attention on making it as "cinematic" as possible, with a whole bunch of mo-capping and emphasis on actually playing all the most exciting bits in the game, it renders any movie pretty much pointless. I mean Drake himself is little more the a generic wise-cracking action hero, the plot is deliberatly ripped from/ homage to indiana jones, and the pulp fiction which inspired that.

Maybe if they got a decent cast and a original story, i could be up for a decent globetrotting, fast paced, funny action movie. I mean i'm almost always keen to see something like that and i don't really care if its licenced or not, but its going to have to be offering something different from the game.

I was also just wondering what kind of movie you envision those characters you mentioned in? I mean most of them are simply too cartoonish to be used in anything adult and with broad-appeal. Even the more serious franchises like zelda, do you think they could make it adult enough to have serious appeal to people above 15 and still have more than purely token references to the games?

Bob said...


I don't know where "adult" comes into it, especially with regard to broad-appeal.

Most of the names/franchises I dropped would, properly-filmmed, fall easily into the realm of PG-rated family/adventure fare - except maybe Metroid, which probably needs a PG-13 or Kirby, which is ideally a G-rated animated thing - which is just about the broadest appeal a movie can possibly have.

If "Alice in Wonderland" can be filmmed in live-action/mocap (on a technical level, I mean) there's no reason a proper Super Mario Bros. can't be. A "Zelda" done in the vein of the Narnia movies would be money in the bank. Hell, how much money did they give Zack Snyder for "Sucker Punch," which is LITERALLY an "item hunt" video game as a movie.

Nafees said...

i think I know what Hollywood is doing here. They are picking the games that the easiest to translate to films.
Lara croft, Prince of Persia, uncharted ... Kane and lynch???

Just sent a shiver up your spine didn't i?

Elessar said...

Bob, I'm going to break something to you. That Live-Action Super Mario Bros movie that we all hate? That's just about as good as Mario movies are going to get.

No, really. Zelda movie would likely be worse. Metroid game MIGHT have a chance, but given the perceived quality of the newest story-heavy one, I'm doubtful.

And here's why. Let's take your favorite game, Super Mario World 3. Based on evidence appearing only in THAT game, who is Mario? Who is Peach and Bowser? Why is Bowser kidnapping Peach? Why is Mario tasked with rescuing him? Where does Mario get his abilities?

See this is the problem with the Mario games when translated to the movies: There are no characters or stories. There is a fairly strong setting, but nothing else. Therefore, any one trying to translate Mario to the screen is either going to be A) Faithful, in which case it'll be a storyless mess or B) Deviate wildly and make a shitty movie with some coincidental names, which is what the last one was.

Link will be even worse, because while there are no real characters, there is just the BAREST hint of a story, enough to make people think that they have to do an adaptation of a specific game and that will be enough to trip up production.

So, to summarize: Mario, Luigi, Link, Donkey Kong, Kirbi...they'd make terrible movies. And just because you're reluctant to admit any game is good that's not made by Nintendo (not insulting you, stating fact, still have huge respect) don't trash Uncharted, they are extremely well made and fun games. And I could drag out a HUGE list of video game heroes I hate more than Nathan, beginning with Kane and Lynch and ending with...hmmm, should probably stop there.

Tim said...

Fuck you Bob! Uncharted is better than literally any game on the Wii. And it's one of the few PS3 games people care about? Demon's Souls, Valkyria Chronicles, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain, God of War 3, Infamous, Killzone 2, Resistance 1 and 2, LittleBigPlanet, ect. Compare that to the Wii's pathetic line of exclusives. You think your so smart but your such a sad pathetic Nintendo fanboy that it disgusts me.

Nick said...

David O. Russell? The guy who made Three Kings (my fourth-favorite movie of all time), is seriously going to make the Uncharted movie? What the heck is he THINKING?

Joseph Valencia said...

I can see Mario being done as a whimsical musical, perhaps in the vein of Robert Altman's "Popeye." A Zelda movie with Kid Link as the protagonist and an "Early Potter" kind of tone would work. Sonic, on the other hand, I can't see working as a live-action movie. It would probably end up like those Garfield movies everyone seems to hate.

CaspiantheSpear said...

Let me take a guess; you're basing your opinion on the Uncharted games entirely around what Yahtzee said about them?

Right, then. Aside of that, I agree that Uncharted doesn't really need to be made into a movie. Is there problem with having it made into one? Not really. Doesn't need to be made into one, though I don't really mind if it is made into one.

Bob said...

Anything with an identifiable hero, enemy, goal and setting is already halfway "done" in terms of being adaptable into a movie, book, whatever. You just need a good writer to fill in all the hows and whys and whose feeling what about whom.

Elessar said...

You're partially right about that. Any material that has an identifiable hero, enemy, goal and setting is about a quarter of the way to being adaptable. The next step is determining everyone's personality and motivations, and that's where problems hit, because, like it or lump it, Mario and Co have no personality or motivations.

It doesn't mean they're bad games (and as much as I love my PS3, Tim an attitude like that is not helpful to the conversation) but it means that anyone adapting them has to make up their personality and motivations out of nothing, which is going to lead to problems.

In this case, Nathan does have a leg up on the Brothers Mario, because he DOES have a recognizable personality and motivation. Whatever you think of that personality and motivation, it's there where Mario's isn't which means he's going to be easier to adapt.

Remember, the industry has had problems adapting video games in the past. Prince of Persia, considered one of the better ones, only grossed 335 million off a 200 million budget, and a ratio like that was enough to put the axe on the Superman Returns sequels. Doing Nintendo once led to a MASSIVE critical and financial failure, and right now they're just starting to find they're footing on video game movies. Expect them to play it safe for a while longer before they try anything new.

CaspiantheSpear said...

I apologize for the comment, by the way. I came across as being a douche. Didn't mean to.

Funky Al said...

Bob, how DARE you like some games better than other games? That's DISGUSTING. You're worse than Hitler.

ANYway, I think the main reason we won't be seeing movies based on some of the examples that were mentioned is that they have to be handled very gingerly. Zelda, Mario etc. are long running franchises with considerably less story already attached to them than things like Uncharted. When you have a purposefully cinematic game that's only a few years old and is already analagous to a series of popular movies, then that's easy money in the bank. But with Mario? You have 25 years worth of fans and fanboys whose severe expectations you have to live up to. It seems like an easy formula, but there are lots of mistakes to be made. Didn't include Rosalina? People whine. Revamp Bowser's Clown Car a little? There's some whining. Give them VOICES? Then nearly everyone complains. An easy way to make everyone happy would just be to hand it off to a good, lesser known animation studio and have the Mario RPG guys write it, but what are the odds any executive knows that?

Metroid and Zelda would be much easier, but I know they'd manage to screw up Zelda by not making Zant the villian. Consarn it.

Bob said...

If the movie is GOOD, no amount of fan complaint can hurt it. This is very-nearly a universal truth. Make a solid-to-good fantasy flick (even somewhere around "Willow" or "Krull" territory would do nicely) out of the most-basic "Zelda" bits (guy needs magic triangle to free princess from villain, it's not complicated) and so long as you nail the details of how the important stuff looks and is set up the fans will come around - yes, even if "the voices don't match my imagination."

An SMB movie is... slightly more challenging, granted, because you probably have to bite the bullet and give SOME reason for why two Italian American plumbers are superheroes in a magical kingdom. For my money, "They're from Brooklyn" always worked well enough, and would place the story in a familiar "ordinary person is extraordinary in another world" tradition a'la John Carter or even Alice. But either way - show the fans a stocky mustachioed man in overalls wrasslin' a bunch of turtle-like monsters realized with REALLY good production values and they'll shut up real fast.

Gus said...

I just don't understand what it is about Nathan that makes you absolutely hate him. He's not some gruff military steriotype or loner with no personality. He's recourceful, genuinely funny, loyal to his allies to the death (and even somethimes his would-be enemies), and also the fact that he and all the other characters in the game are written by ACTUAL ****ING WRITERS! Which is more than I can say for most current games. Seriously, Uncharted 2 was one of the first games with dialogue that made me laugh out loud.

The more I think about it, Nate's personality reminds me a whole lot of Mal from Firefly, and I thought you liked that show, Bob.

I'm trying really hard not to be upset, but the way you condesend a character as if you're just reading cliff notes from Yatzee, without actually playing the games because you have this personal bias against Sony, I find incredibly unfair, not to mention extremely inacurrate.

P.S. The whole "Indiana Jones ripoff" argument is getting kind of old. So I guess any story about a guy who's looking for any mythical artifact is imediately ripping off Indiana Jones? That's stupid. Drake doesn't go out looking for the Arc of the Covenant, or the holly grail, or anything that's already been done. The writers tried hard to find myths and past explorers that are a little more unorthodox.

Clayton said...

It's times like this where I realize that Hollywood has absolutely no flipping respect for video games. I could go on about how the medium itself doesn't need film adaptations for justifying itself, but that's for another time. Uncharted is a game that was aping Hollywood so all that they're going to get is something that was aping the best of Hollywood to begin with. Plus Drake crosses the vague line of being a lovable underdog to arrogant smartmouth. I also would never get my hopes up for Nintendo adaptations as after the Mario travesty they've kept a tight-fisted hold on those properties. The closest we've gotten is the various Zelda and Fire Emblem manga as well as an official Metroid prequel manga overseen by series' director Sakamoto.

Elessar said...

Oh and Bob, I hate to break it to you, but regardless of it's merit, 99.9 percent of the geek community is probably gonna be sold on this movie, is this works out

Yeahhhhh. Discussion on this movie, merit based or not, just became moot.

Gus said...

I was just saying how much Nate reminds me of Mal. This couldn't be a more perfect choice. Some people might say he's a little old for the part, but I really wouldn't mind that.

P.S. Uncharted 2 did not win over twenty-five 2009 Game of the Year awards from gamers and critics alike just because of its graphics. It won them because its gameplay was awesome, control was fluid, the writting was incredible, and Naughtydog is quite possibly the most overlooked and underrated developer in the industry. It was only a matter of time before they made a game that finally got the praise it deserved.

Naugthydog have been making cinematic games since the Jak and Daxter series, and if they are at all involved in the production of this film thing just might bode well. Very well.

Joe said...

I remember when they were going to make a movie based on The Getaway. They were going to make a movie based on a game that was trying to be a Guy Ritchie movie.

Whatever my issues with Uncharted, "Indiana Jones rip-off" isn't one of them, considering the Indiana Jones films were naked homages to 30s pulp and late 19th century adventure stories that were getting popular around the time the first major real-world archaeological discoveries were being made.

I love Nathan Fillion, but I'm already committed to Isaiah "Old Spice Man" Mustafa's campaign to get cast as Luke Cage.

H said...

Butbutbut Nathan Fillion isn't young and scruffy enough to be Nathan Drake. All Nathan Fillion is is rugged and manly and genuinely charming, that couldn't work. But no, I don't have much against Drake, he's just not interesting, and kinda douchey. He'll transition into a film character quite easily.

Also Bob, if you dislike Drake's generic scruffy white guy look, have you heard of the Donut Drake bonus skin from Uncharted 2? They re-skinned his model to make him like 250 pounds. I haven't personally experienced it, but it sounds like it would enhance the experience a lot. Also there was "Realistic Mode", where everything was sepia gray/brown tones and there was blinding levels of bloom lighting. I'm still not very interested in Uncharted, but Naughty Dog continues to be pretty damn awesome.

And that Tim guy needs a good smack in the head. Let's shun him now.