“Uncharted” wants to be the next big video game movie series. Nope.

Before Nathan Drake was a stubborn, world-weary treasure hunter who’d plundered his share of tombs and knew his way around a PlayStation 3 RPG filled with puzzles and peril, he was just another dude. twenty years in New York. You know the type: Looks like a movie star, likes flipping bottles while mixing cocktails, great at pickpocketing and parkour, has a missing older brother and a chip on his shoulder. He also has a deep interest in Magellan, as so many young people do these days, and in the rumors that the explorer hid a pile of gold somewhere while traveling around the world. His brother, Sam, was pretty obsessed with picking him up, actually. But a long period of radio silence suggests something has happened to Nathan’s family.

Then enters his life Victor “Sully” Sullivan, a father figure who could help this orphan find the only member of his family. It turns out Sully and Sam went for Magellan’s gold together before the latter went MIA; if Nate needs help locating the loot, they can find his brother. Their quest will be filled with allies, sworn enemies, diabolical billionaires, double-crossings, fierce chases, globetrotters and a jaw-dropping fight in a Papa John’s in Barcelona, ​​because why not? For gamers, these names and the promise of action pieces brimming with a mix of triangles, squares, R1s, Xs and O’s – translation: running, jumping, analyzing clues and fast and furious combat – can be exciting. Everyone can just feel a strange sense of deja vu. We’ve been here, in this extremely well-mapped multiplex territory, hundreds of times before.

Part scraping IP barrels, part bloated star vehicle, and part fumbling attempt to get Sony to cross media revenue streams, Unexplored isn’t the worst attempt to bring a beloved video game to the screen – just the latest proof that these things really are a zero-sum game. It starts at a height, or more accurately, about 20,000 feet high: our young Drake (played by Tom Holland) is shown hanging by a strap from a series of cargo boxes hanging from an airplane. It is one of key missions in Uncharted 3and director Ruben Fleischer (zombieland) stages it as if it makes viewers fall into en media res gameplay, with Holland jumping from container to container, dodging giant flying objects, dodging bullets and thugs as he tries to get back to the holding area. It’s a nice opening salvo of well-paced mayhem, and establishes this future adventurer as someone who hasn’t quite mastered the hero gig yet. When he finally gets back on board, Drake is immediately hit by an unmoored sports car and crashes back into the clear blue sky. This is what most people would call a promising start.

And then… it all immediately settles into what feels like a series of high-exposure cut-scenes, occasionally braking for manic bits of recycled derring-do, nudges and nods to diehards, and 1,001 references. to other top blockbusters. The fact that Holland is not just a newly minted movie star, but also a graceful and very athletic star – and is currently at another Sony-owned property – means the company is getting what it pays for and view from the point of view. From a perspective of Introducing the 25-year-old not just as a superhero but as a 21st century action movie swashbuckler, this prequel to the PS3 series works better as an audition reel than a franchise starter .

As far as the sound and wave of CGI surrounding Holland goes, he more or less shoulders the burden of this grabbing IP money on his own. No more gray hair, guayabera-carrying the games mentor, the slightly younger Sully is played by Mark Wahlberg, whose demeanor is completely wrong for the role. (His whole performance can be summed up as follows: I’m the one trying to get rich with a lot of lost treasures. You must be the other guy.) Antonio Banderas is the strictly mean with an accent, and just proves that while Spanish ham is indeed delicious, it tends to lose its flavor when lazily slapped on leftovers. Grey’s Anatomyis Sophia Ali and The 100Tati Gabrielle’s Tati Gabrielle is slotted into the respective roles of a gorgeous companion/pirate loot-hunting companion and a gorgeous henchwoman/assassin role. They both deserve much better. So do Unexplored fanatics, by the way.

Video games are an active form of entertainment. Scour the graveyard of attempts to rejigger canon-worthy titles for passive support while trying to retain what makes them great, but not just delivering live character cosplay, and you’ll find it’s littered with corpses. . the Unexplored the games were perfect for letting players shoot, slide, sprint, and smash their way through an old-school adventure movie. Something – everything – gets lost in translation here. Sony really wants to trade on the brand recognition of a PlayStation staple. However, the more you watch them put Holland to the test of Drake, the more you feel like they wish they could get away with calling it that. Tomb Raiders of the Caribbean’s Lost National Treasure, featuring Spider-Man. It’s a second-generation copy of someone else’s greatest hits static compilation. You better watch some old presentation clips.

Andrea G. Henderson