After spending more than a decade in development and rotating through multiple directors, Sony’s “Uncharted” movie, based on the popular PlayStation video-game series, is finally set to hit the big screen on Feb. 18, much to the delight of gamers everywhere. For the film’s crew, the challenge was to keep key aspects of the movie true to its source, which has sold more than 40 million copies, making it one of the most popular titles for Sony’s PlayStation console.
Envisioned as playable “Indiana Jones” adventures, the game revolves around Nathan Drake, a bold treasure hunter obsessed with finding ancient prizes and firing off hilarious one-liners. In the film adaptation, Drake is aged down and played by “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland, opposite Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle, in an original tale about his early, action-packed days.
“Fans will feel the inspiration pulling from what’s genius about the franchise,” says Alex Gartner of Atlas Entertainment, who produced the film alongside Charles Roven, Avi Arad and Ari Arad. “Our gut said to tell a fresh story so there’s something for everybody, whether or not you’re familiar with the IP.”
For gamers, Drake is almost as recognizable as Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, and for costume designers Marlene Stewart and Anthony Franco, creating his outfit was a balance of paying homage to the games, while also crafting an original look. “There is no game that reflects this particular chapter. It’s kind of a new world and yet we wanted to be very conscious of all the fans who have played this video game,” Stewart says.
In nearly every version of the game, Drake is dressed in a white henley shirt, cargo pants and shoulder harnesses for his weapons, which Franco says was the most challenging costume to design, not only because it was the most iconic to fans but because they needed to have so many of them for the production. “It wasn’t easy to find,” he says. “We had three people constantly on different shopping sites.”
Just like its “Indiana Jones” inspiration, the “Uncharted” games have a sweeping, adventurous musical score that greets players every time they boot up the main menu. However, the film’s composer, Ramin Djawadi, says he wanted to wait until the final, swashbuckling action scene — where Drake battles mercenaries hired by a rival treasure hunter (played by Banderas) aboard an airborne pirate ship — to incorporate the recognizable theme.
“We thought, ‘What would be a good spot to drop this in? The battle at the end,’” Djawadi says. “Visually there are things very close to the game and we could make it fun for the people who know it.”
Yet the composer says knowledge of the PlayStation original isn’t required to enjoy the film. “If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a fun adventure movie for everyone,” he explains.
In addition to adapting the pirate ship battle, the movie features an instantly recognizable action sequence from the games, where Drake is fighting aboard a cargo plane and must hang on for his life after its luggage is jettisoned miles above the ground.
“You have this guy bouncing around, and everything is frenetic energy,” says stunt coordinator Scott Rogers. “We created this arch and used a lack of gravity to our benefit. The scene is broken into two parts. It’s this death-defying climb, and then it becomes a race to hurry up to get back into the plane.”
To balance the breakneck action, Rogers says moments of humor and calm helped give the film a rhythm. “Action, much like comedy, has to have a pace to it, like a roller-coaster,” he says. “You want the audience to hold their breath for a moment, then exhale. You go through a sequence like that, then you let them breathe.”
In adapting the games for the big screen, the “Uncharted” team was sure to keep the video game fans in mind at all times. “My godson, who is 14 years old, plays the games,” says Franco, “and I thought his head was going to blow off when I told him I was doing this movie.”
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