Direct adaptations are so 2017
Naughty Dog’s games are usually held up as ripe for adaptation to the big screen, which is a bit ironic, since they steal much of their inspiration from that very place. As such it hasn’t been much of a surprise that both an Uncharted film and a The Last of Us film have been in the works for years. Both have been stop and go forever now, but according to Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann both are still in the works… whether he likes it or not.
The Uncharted film is much further along. Last we heard about it the movie was going to be a prequel and star Tom Holland, which still seems to be the case. Shawn Levy is directing, and there’s even a finished screenplay. Druckmann is a bit non-committal on when things might actually get rolling, though.
“The Uncharted movie, yeah, we’ve had some conversations with Shawn Levy. And he’s really passionate, gets it, and I think he understands where we’re at. We’ve kind of evolved our feelings towards these kind of adaptations over the years. We used to just be excited, ‘Oh, my god, movies are looking at us. There could be an Uncharted movie on the screen.’ And then as more time passes on, we’re not excited about a direct adaptation of the story we told, because we feel like we’ve already told that story very well, cinematically, so I don’t know what else you could bring to it. … [Shawn Levy] wanting to tell a different story than the main four adventures – with potentially a young Nathan Drake, that fills in the gaps – I think is a lot more interesting than trying to retell Uncharted 1, 2, 3, and 4.”
Yea, I couldn’t agree more with him on that. One of the reasons I’m not too hyped about the new Tomb Raider movie is it looks like they’re just telling a story I already experienced in a very cinematic fashion. Uncharted is basically a game cribbing from the great adventure movies, so why crib back again? I like the direction they’re taking on this, and hopefully it’s a way forward to make good video game movies.
That ideal seems to be what is holding up the The Last of Us film as well, which producer Sam Raimi said was at a standstill as far back as 2016 thanks to differences between Sony and Druckmann. Druckmann actually wrote the first screenplay for the movie as a direct adaptation, but has since soured on that idea.
“…And even I worked on the script for The Last of Us film, which was a direct adaptation. And now, having some separation from it, I look back and [am] like, ‘I don’t want that movie to be made.’
“Maybe there’s something that could be done in the world, either focusing on other characters or other time. But, for me, and I know for Naughty Dog and for a lot of our fans, Nolan North is Nathan Drake, Ashley Johnson is Ellie, Troy Baker is Joel. And it would be very disorienting to see someone else in that role.”
Preach on, sir. Preach on.