David O. Russell is making a video game adaptation: the PlayStation 3-exclusive Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a Tomb Raider-like adventure with a very heavy focus on story and blockbuster film-level production values. As video games go, it’s one of the more perfect sources to target. The story follows a treasure-hunting adventure seeker and descendant of Sir Francis Drake, but other than that it really has nothing to do with his family. It’s more Indiana Jones than that; there’s a plucky, young female love interest and a double-dealing old friend.
That’s the game. Russell’s film is about a family of thieves whose dynamic he’s compared to HBO’s The Sopranos. This, as you might expect, does not sit well with the game’s fanbase. The Internet has been very vocal about putting down Russell’s efforts — and, frankly, they’re not wrong. Now Russell has risen to defend himself, in a chat with /Film.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m very respectful as far as the core content and spirit of the game, but beyond that it’s my job as a filmmaker to make what I think is going to be an amazing movie. People have to trust that and let that go, I think. There’s not a bunch of movies you can point to that are made from games that are amazing movies, that stand up to time as a franchise or as [individual films]. I personally think it’s really cool when you see that someone like Darren Aronofsky is going to make an X-Men movie or to get someone such as myself to make this picture. You can be guaranteed that it’s going to be real, it’s going to be raw, it’s going to be intense, it’s going to be original, and it’s going to be propulsive. And those are all the things that I want when I go to watch a movie like that.
Now here’s the thing, David: If you’re really so respectful as far as “the core content and spirit of the game” goes, where exactly do you get the idea that a story about a family of international art thieves in the style of The Sopranos fits into the Uncharted mythos? Seriously now, your words of reassurance read just fine but the facts don’t quite match up. You’re a talented filmmaker and your idea for a story involving a family of art thieves has plenty of promise. That said, there is literally nothing in your comments about Uncharted so far that speaks to the game in any way.
I’d love to “let that go,” as you say, but you’ve yet to offer fans of the game any reason to believe you’re not just tacking a popular franchise’s name onto a story of your own creation. Now Uncharted is one of Sony’s top franchises, and I have a hard time believing that the company would sign off on an adaptation if it weren’t going to service the property well. So why don’t you stop with the empty lip service and show us exactly how you sold the idea? Because nothing here adds up. If you want the fans to shut up, give them a reason to.
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