Video games are a fairly young medium, and video game criticism is newer still, which is why so many people are so terrible at it. It’s full of nebulous terms, the definition of which nobody ever seems able to agree on. One of them is “feel”, which can be used to describe anything from how the game feels mechanically to how the player feels about the game. It’s not a term I deploy often, in any context, but it’s the best one to describe the new fan-man Uncharted short film, directed by Allan Ungar and starring Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake. It feels just like the games. So much so, in fact, that Sony should abandon their planned prequel with Tom Holland and make a big-budget feature-length continuation immediately.
Everything you might ever want from an Uncharted movie is crammed into these fifteen minutes. Quips and one-liners? Check. A fistfight that incorporates a good portion of Drake’s in-game melee moves? Check. A shootout, a vehicular escape, the putting together of ancient clues, the promise of fabled hidden treasure? All the checks.
Fillion is pitch-perfect as Drake. This isn’t an impression; it’s the digital character given flesh. And while the most recent (and best) game in the series, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, moved away from Drake somewhat, let it never be said that the character didn’t have built-in cinematic appeal. In a way it’s a shame these things were games; the best parts of all of them have been the bits that were most like movies, and the worst have been the bits most like games. And that’s coming from someone who has been playing and writing about video games for my entire adult life.
If we’re to get an Uncharted movie, which seems inevitable at this point, this is the Uncharted movie I want. This is the Uncharted movie everyone wants. Ungar’s 15-minute short works as the cold open for a blockbuster. It ends on a juicy cliffhanger. They already got Stephen Lang to play Victor Sullivan, for crying out loud. Imagine this with a real budget, and a giant crew. It probably won’t happen. But here’s the strongest case I’ve yet seen for why it should.
In the meantime, watch the short for yourself on Allan Ungar’s YouTube channel: