Unraveling the Uncharted Movie with Director Ruben Fleischer
Below is a spoiler-free interview with Uncharted director Ruben Fleischer. The film will be released in theaters in the United States on February 18.
Uncharted’s film history has been a long one, with Sony’s action-adventure game adaptation taking over 14 years to make its way to the big screen. After being first announced in 2008, fans can finally experience the film after its years stuck in development hell.
To get a sense of what we can expect from the long-awaited film, IGN sat down with director Ruben Fleischer to discuss the film’s challenges, adapting beloved properties, and the type of Easter Eggs game that fans can keep their eyes peeled.
IGN: The film went through multiple script variations, character revisions, etc., as it transitioned between directors. What did you focus on and is there anything from previous editions that you decided to keep?
Ruben Fleischer: I only knew the script I was offered to direct, so I can’t speak to previous versions of it, because honestly, I’ve never read them or know what they were about. I know that when I read [this script], I was blown away by the thrilling adventure it told the story of, and two great characters at the center of that adventure with a really fun and funny dynamic. As soon as I read it I was blown away and – needless to say – quickly discovered that other people had been involved before me, and I feel like I was given a gift, simply because it was such a dream come true movie. I mean, I grew up loving Raiders of the Lost Ark more than any movie, and so when I was sent this script and it had aspects of this treasure hunting adventure and globetrotting, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to bring it to life on the big screen.
IGN: In your opinion, what elements of the games should remain intact?
Ruben Fleischer: Well, the central relationship between Nate and Sully is certainly pivotal, as well as the banter they both have. We were lucky to have Mark and Tom who are both so good at comedy and did a wonderful job of creating that chemistry between this odd couple, so I would say they are the central characters. In terms of tone and style, I mean, the Uncharted franchise is certainly known for its action sets, so we had the bar set very high for us in terms of any action that we intended to do and that we wanted her to deliver that same level of thrill for the audience. Then I think everything about puzzle solving and adventure and treasure hunting has always been very important in conveying that sense of discovery and the thrill of solving puzzles and finding hidden passages and all the other interesting things that come with a scavenger hunt. movie.
IGN: Uncharted games were designed with cinematic action in mind. Did it make it easier to translate the cinematic action into the film?
Ruben Fleischer: Yeah. Without a doubt. I feel like Uncharted, the game was inspired by a lot of those classic treasure hunt movies. Those films inspired me to become a director, and so it was a relatively easy process to take it from the big screen to a series of video games, and then from a video game to the big screen, it was relatively seamless. The only real challenge for us was that our characters weren’t CGI, and so when they’re hanging out in the back of a plane, you have to figure out how to do that practically and put some movie stars‘ lives in danger. in order to pull off some of those death-defying stunts. The games set the bar high when it comes to action, but hopefully the movie lives up to it.
IGN: How has working on Venom, a property with a very vocal and passionate fan base, prepared you to take on a gaming property that is as beloved and iconic as it is unexplored?
Ruben Fleischer: You are very astute in recognizing the parallels between the two films. Both feature a very loyal and passionate fan base for whom the source material is treasured and of whom they are very protective, so my experience on Venom – adapting it to the big screen – informed my experience of bringing Uncharted from the video game to feature film. You want to make a film that serves fans, but can also be entertainment for its intended format, which for us was theatrical distribution or the big-screen cinematic experience. I’m sure you can’t rely exclusively on the source material when making one of these movies.
You have to make a great movie, or the best movie possible. At the same time, you don’t want to neglect or ostracize the existing fanbase, so it needs to be treated with respect and appreciation for what they love and incorporate those same elements into the film so that there’s something for them. people who are hardcore fans of games and then also something for people who have never heard of games.
IGN: With the games, there’s a bit of a joke about the narrative disconnect with storyline motivations and Nathan Drake slaughtering hundreds of people in the process of completing his adventures. Do fodder enemies actually die or are they rather incapacitated?
Ruben Fleischer: I think it’s up to you what happens to those hapless anonymous mercenaries who come off the screen. I’d like to think they all have parachutes and find their way safely to the ground, but I can’t assure you of that. In our movie, there really isn’t a ton of excessive violence or casualties, I don’t think. There are a multitude of mercenaries who meet their fate in different ways, but I don’t think you see too many of them ending up one way or another. You see them fall from high things, and we can only imagine that they all turned out to be happily ever after.
IGN: In the games, Chloe meets Nathan Drake when he’s older. Can you explain why you decided to establish their connection so early in the films?
Ruben Fleischer: It was important that a female character from the video game franchise participate in this film. There are other, perhaps more central, characters in Nate’s relationship in the life of the video game franchise that we haven’t met yet, but we wanted to have a combination of familiar faces and then characters. completely unique to the movie franchise, and it’s a balance between the two.
IGN: What a perfect introduction to the next question! We know that Chloe has always been in love with Nathan, but in the games he ends up with Elena Fisher. Have you ever considered including it in the film?
Ruben Fleischer: I can’t say I’ve ever thought of it. I don’t know if previous drafts or before my involvement took this into account, but as far as I was involved, it was only planned for Chloe. It’s with the hope and expectation that if we get the chance to make future movies, we can meet even more characters from the Uncharted world.
New images from the Uncharted movie
IGN: So in that same vein, will the future of the franchise mirror the games or will we start to move away from it?
Ruben Fleischer: I don’t know if it will ever mirror the games, because my attitude towards adaptations is that if you just want an exact copy of what’s in the source material, then there’s no need to adapt or create something new. Video games are so immersive and satisfying on their own, and with Uncharted in particular being so cinematic and entertaining, I think it would be a bit tedious to simply recreate them in film form. I think we’ll always borrow aspects of it, but also forge our own storylines and adventures if we’re lucky enough to be able to continue telling the story.
IGN: With that borrowing in mind, should fans be on the lookout for Easter Eggs?
Ruben Fleischer: Yeah. Uncharted fans will hopefully be delighted to find Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the film. There’s a big one that I’m sure you recognized, as many fans will, but throughout the movie, whether it’s quotes that Nate says that are taken straight from the source material, there’s There’s signage, there’s stickers, there’s all kinds of hidden gems throughout this movie that people can go on their own hunt.
For more Uncharted goodies, check out our interview with Uncharted’s Tati Gabrielle as she explains how she brought Braddock to life.
Some quotes have been edited for clarity.
Amelia is a streaming editor here at IGN. He’s also a film and television critic who spends too much time
talk about dinosaurs, superheroes and popular horror. You can usually find her with her dog, Rogers. There may be cheeseburgers involved.