When it comes to movie news – hell, when it comes to the web - I used to say that I didn’t have an internet connection – I have a CHUD connection. But with so many good peeps at so many other sites, I do sometimes cheat on my Sewer Sweetie.
For example – Matt Goldberg is a mensch, and I love reading his stuff. So I visit COLLIDER.COM - where I discovered the reason why David O. Russell (he of the genius mind and the short fuse and the kick-ass filmography) has left Sony’s video game adaptation/franchise starter, Uncharted.
EDIT: Our own Elisabeth Rappe did a piece a couple of days ago about Russell’s departure from the project, but there was no rationale aside from the standard-issue “creative differences” we so often see. Mr. Goldberg, among others, was able to confirm that it was indeed because of a screenplay that veered wildly from the source material. Ms. Rappe was not privy to this new information, and so you may consider my meager work here a follow up. Thank you kindly.
Fannerds who claim that David O. Russell makes “indie/art films” and therefore doesn’t belong anywhere near this project have shit taste, and they haven’t seen Three Kings (they also suffer from selective amnesia, as they seem to forget that the career of their God, Christopher Nolan, followed a similar trajectory). Ultimately (and unfortuantely – ’cause there’s nothing as insufferable as a validated fannerd), though – they may have also been right, as our friend Matthias claims that:
“It appears that O. Russell’s script was so long, ambitious, and perhaps most damning (from Sony’s perspective), it added plenty of characters who weren’t in the video game.”
“Plenty of characters who weren’t in the video game.” This is our concern, dude.
Russell’s Uncharted bore a seemingly name-only debt to the source material. His film was apparently set to follow Drake as a member of a family of antiquities thieves – father Robert DeNiro and uncle Joe Pesci among them (which always felt like stunt casting – and conjured traumatic flashbacks to Leo Getz) – as they faced danger all over the world. While that sounds like it might be a worthwhile framework in Russell’s hands, it’s not Uncharted - which, admittedly, is really just a simultaneously intense and lighthearted modern-day Indiana Jones riff (though, it must be said – the plot, dialogue, and characters in both Uncharted games were streets ahead of at least two Indiana Jones films I can think of), with a charming, wiseacre hero so constantly on the verge of failure that would be comical if it didn’t mean he’d wind up so utterly dead.
Inevitably, this news has spurred seven hundred and eighty thousand comments that boil down to, “NOW NATHAN FILLION CAN BE DRAKE!!!111one1!” But as much as I love Bill Pardy…I really can’t get behind that.
Not that Russell’s choice of Mark Wahlberg worked for me, either. As solid a performer as I think he is – and as much as appreciate what Russell consistently brings out in him (bless you, Tommy Corn) – Wahlberg never felt right for Drake (though perhaps there is a hint of Nate in his Big Hit performance). To my mind, you’re casting a Nathan Drake – you wait for a break in the shooting of the CW’s Supernatural, and you get Jensen Ackles on the phone.
Barring that, lock James Roday in a gym for three months with Jake Steinfeld, and you might just have the living embodiment of the character. Cast Bruce Campbell as Sully (if for no other reason than he could bring his own cheesy Tommy Bahama-flavored wardrobe with him), and lock Kristen Bell for Elena (it’s about time she winds up in a film someone might be interested in seeing), and you’re all set there.
Yeah, I know – neither of the guys I mentioned for the lead are movie stars, and you need movie stars to make franchises work. Luckily, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Christian Bale, and Christopher Reeve were all superstars in good standing when they climbed aboard their respective gravy boats…
When you hire a writer (or twenty-six), make sure you sit him/her/them down to play through both games. And make ‘em watch Jackie Chan’s Armour of God, both of his Project A films, and Kim Jee-woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird to get a sense of pace and tone. If they can’t nail that, just go ahead and can ‘em. You can save yourselves a little time and hire John August, if you’d like.
Once you get a script that sings, hire the aforementioned Mr. Kim to shoot it (alternately, check on the availability of Kathryn Bigelow), don’t post-convert it to 3D (if you wanna’ shoot it that way, I wont complain – so long as it’s not projected on your crappy tech), and you’ll have an actual successful video game movie.
You’re welcome, Sony. I’ve done you a solid – please don’t give my credit card number away anymore.
As for David O – depending on the kind of deal he made with Sony, maybe he can change a few names and details, and set his script up with Wahlberg and company elsewhere. Is the Mountain still chasing a sequel to The Italian Job?
You’re welcome, Paramount…
Thanks to COLLIDER.