“Nuns, why does it always have to be nuns?” asks Tom Holland’s Nathan Drake in the film adaptation of Uncharted. This is just one of the many references (some subtle, some not so subtle) to the great Indiana Jones, whose fingerprints, along with Lara Croft, are all over Uncharted. From the outfits Holland and Wahlberg wear to the Indiana Jones-like flyover of a map to the attitude of Nathan Drake in the video games, Uncharted owes a lot to the archeologist in a fedora. And while the latest attempt at a video game adaptation won’t please all fans of the video game franchise, it’s one of the best attempts at commercializing a franchise in recent memories, mostly in due part to the fact that you’ll forget it’s an adaptation of anything, quite frankly. Tom Holland is not a perfect Nathan Drake; at times it’s hard to see the stoic and blunt Nathan Drake of the video games, but it’s the boyish charm that has given Holland the career he’s had thus far that’ll make you smile whenever he quips while hitting people with bottles of alcohol, as cheesy as some of these moments are. Uncharted is a great adventure movie, and far better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie even I, a bit fan of that franchise, have a soft spot for. As hard to believe as it is if Disney and co. want to take a few pages out of the playbook of Uncharted, it may be in their best interest to bring them back to their roots.
Uncharted follows Nathan Drake, who is roped into an adventure by Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), to hunt down the treasure of the Magellan expedition.
We kick off Uncharted with a big action set piece: Tom Holland playing leapfrog across cargo crates (so great we get to see it twice!). Right when it starts getting good, we do the cliché action movie trope of (slickly) transitioning from one shot to another of Nathan as a young boy. This is where we get the brief backstory of Nathan and Sam, Nathan’s brother who likely listened to Only The Good Die Young one too many times, and then we’re reintroduced to Tom Holland who is, like Peter Parker, in NY. Nathan is a nighttime bartender and bracelet-stealing scoundrel, using his charm and bag full of magic tricks, by this I mean a lighter that can barely set alight given to him by his brother 15 years prior, to steal valuables unbeknownst of his victims. One night, Sully (Wahlberg), offers him an in on an operation that could make both of them a fortune, thus setting our adventure on its course.
The Nathan Drake of the video games, to my knowledge (of about two hours of playtime of Uncharted 4), is the amalgamation of two of Harrison Ford’s most iconic characters, Han Solo and Indiana Jones. The smug and witty nature of Nathan was always something I doubted Holland could pull off. Luckily, this young version of Nathan hasn’t had his heart hardened quite yet, just give it a few more years of chasing Chloe (Sophia Ali) to no avail, and that boyish nature has some more “shits” and drinks sprinkled that remind you that Holland is indeed an adult. More in line with the video game version of Nathan is Sully, played by the great Mark Wahlberg (more on him later).
It’s no secret that I’m oftentimes very critical of Tom Holland. As a teenager, I loved him as Spider-Man, but the gawky looks grew tired after a while. And while he doesn’t necessarily reinvent himself in Uncharted, even striking a Spider-Man pose or two, he plays the role of the hero well and with enough charm that it’s hard to not root for him. Part of that charm, however, is that “gee-whiz” energy when he exclaims: “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! It was completely reactionary!” after dodging a crate and watching it hit one of the nameless henchmen in pursuit (something I called would happen coming into the film). If you heard his voice when reading that quote, I’ve done my job and you’ll understand what I mean.
But Holland is undeniably good at playing the protagonist, and his Nathan Drake is still learning the game. Oftentimes too trusting, Nathan gets his ass kicked on numerous occasions as a result. It’s clear that this is a story devoted to showing the progression of Nathan, he seems far more confident by the mid-credits scene, and while waiting until the very end of a first movie in a (hopeful) franchise usually weighs down movies, see Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, seeing another few movies would be welcomed from this Indiana Jones lover.
Sully, like Nathan, was always going to be hard to nail. You had to pair someone with Holland who could pull off a mentor role, but he also had to be a little snarky in order to keep up with the expected quipping. Wahlberg plays Sully by “Mark Wahlberg-ering” his way through lines, which is not a completely bad thing (who doesn’t love Mark Wahlberg?), but this is where the commercialization of this film comes into play. Wahlberg is, more than anything, a big enough name to go second billing to Holland and draw some more butts in seats. Diehard fans of the game were likely upset, and that’s fair. But as far as a Hollywood version of the film goes, it worked. He’s sarcastic, throwing zingers right back at Holland (one about Holland’s height), and the two make for a fun duo. The same lesson from Nathan Drake applies: Go in with no expectations of his this character should be portrayed, and you’ll be fine. It’s perhaps a cop-out but think of Uncharted as a movie that takes inspiration from the video games, rather than a straight adaptation. More than Nathan’s right-hand man, this version of Sully is more like Sapito (Alfred Molina) in Raiders of the Lost Ark with a significant upgrade in lines.
Holland and Wahlberg are the standouts, mainly because they’re shoved down your face for most of the runtime, but out of all of the supporting cast, Sophia Ali is the standout by a wide margin. I don’t know her character of Chloe, but her scenes with Holland and Wahlberg made for fun banter. There’s a chase sequence involving Chloe and Nathan, and it was one of the most engaging scenes of the film. Antonio Banderas is kind of in the film, playing your typical Indiana Jones villain with daddy issues, but is hardly remarkable. He shares one scene with Holland, and perhaps to avoid going into any spoiler territory, his presence left a lot to be desired. An antagonist shouldn’t have enough screentime to barely cover a pee break, and it’s truly hard to remember any scenes with Banderas. It’s awfully possible he didn’t want a part of Uncharted, but he was willingly in Doolittle. He will appear in Indiana Jones 5, so maybe he was just holding out on us. Tati Gabrielle plays Sully’s rival, Jo Braddock, but even despite being in the film significantly more than Banderas, she wasn’t that memorable either. She holds a knife up to people’s necks enough times that it would get you a buzz if you took a shot with each instance, but that’s about it. I guess a fight in an international Papa John’s was cool.
Now, Uncharted’s biggest flaws are not doing much to raise its stakes. I get it, it’s an attempt to blossom into Holland’s “side hoe” franchise to the MCU, so inherently, the stakes were never going to be sky-high. But while a basic plot can be forgivable, (literal and metaphorical) constant double-crosses are not the way to go in an attempt to compensate. You’ll see them a mile away, and if any heist/adventure movie taught you anything, don’t trust anyone, except the lead character. Most of these double-crosses will likely come with no gasps from audience members, and it’ll make Death on the Nile‘s twists seem like shocking revelations.
The action set pieces are about as ambitious as a standard MCU outing. They’re visually engaging enough, nothing special, but the amount of hand-to-hand combat is welcomed. Yes, they’re filled with some cringe-worthy quips, but I don’t remember another movie where Holland was put in situations that he had to exchange fists to get out of.
There is some choppy pacing, which should be talked about. While Uncharted will never bore you, it comes at the expense of basking in a scene. As stated, the opening of the film is a set piece, jumping right to Nathan’s introduction and within what feels like 20 minutes, we’re already on a heist mission with Nathan and Sully. It’s great that it doesn’t slow, I’m not sure these characters need much expansion, but there are far too many montages while characters “research,” or should I say stare at maps and postcards, and those Indiana Jones-like map moments occur on more than one occasion.
Uncharted is a ton of fun because, well, it’s not trying to be a faithful adaptation of the video games. I’m sure there are plenty of nods to the series, I recognized a few story beats even though I am a very casual player, but it works as an adventure franchise movie that we rarely get nowadays. It’s just pure popcorn fun and likely accomplishes what The Lost City hopes to do later this spring. Don’t be scared off by the February release date, Uncharted is anything but your standard “Q1 disaster.” Maybe Sony wanted to ride off of the Spider-Man wave, but a spring/summer release date would have been even better.
Sony will release Uncharted on February 18.
Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
Movie Review (no spoilers)
The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.
Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.
Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.
The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.
I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.
My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?
My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!
‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy
“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”
The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.
The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.
There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.
Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.
All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.
‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments
Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the power of shared experiences. In just five minutes, this story carries a profound message that transcends its simplicity. Dharavi, often characterized by its challenging environment, serves as the backdrop for the story’s beginning. It sets the stage for two children’s life-altering decision to break free from their past. This decision, in itself, is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the pursuit of a better life.
The symbolism of leaving behind what is perceived as “trash” is a powerful metaphor for shedding the burdens of the past. The discarded keyboard, seemingly insignificant, becomes a symbol of forgotten dreams and overlooked opportunities. As fate would have it, two young kids in Navi Mumbai stumble upon this abandoned keyboard, which becomes the catalyst for a heartwarming journey. The excitement and curiosity the keyboard sparks in them are relatable and heartening. It reminds us of the pure joy that simple discoveries can bring, especially to young minds eager for new experiences.
The act of acquiring batteries to breathe new life into the neglected instrument is a moment of resourcefulness and determination. It’s a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a little effort can rekindle lost passions and unlock new possibilities. The transformation of the once-silent keys into a source of melodies that fill the air is a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of art and creativity. The kids’ dance to these newfound tunes is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures and the joy of shared experiences.
This story serves as a reminder that shared moments of happiness can bridge the gaps between individuals and communities. In the bustling city where stark contrasts exist, the shared joy and rekindled dreams bring people together. It’s a testament to the universal language of music and the ability of the human spirit to find connections even in the most unexpected places.
Nightingales in the Cocoon beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the universal desire for connection and joy. It’s a brilliant and simple narrative that reminds us of the beauty in the everyday moments of life and the power of transformation and human connection.
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