David O. Russell. Super-talented filmmaker. "Three Kings" is a hoot. "Flirting With Disaster" too. And everyone's talking about "The Fighter" this year. Next up he's got an adaptation of the PlayStation 3-exclusive "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" from Naughty Dog. Unfortunately, based on comments he made in a recent interview, Russell doesn't appear to have the faintest idea of what the game is about.
The Oscar-nominated director recently gave an interview to IGN UK in which he spoke at length about his plans for the adaptation. It... gets a little weird. I don't want to come down on a production that hasn't even started, but reading Russell's words and knowing the game's story... are we sure he knows which game he's adapting?
"I think if we take that family dynamic that we have in 'The Fighter,' and put that in terms of a grander stage, with a crime family that metes out justice in the world of art and antiquities," he said. "If you're the head of a museum, or head of state, you've got to deal with them, and they're badass. ...They're like the Sopranos in some ways, but they have great taste, and they have a sense of justice."
Soooo... wait. Wait. What? Family dynamic? Crime family? The meting out of justice?! What about Sully? Awesome submarine wrecks? Hell, I'll even take a pack of wild mutants! Even if Russell walks away from this project having made a film that rivals "Citizen Kane" in its overall contribution to cinema, it won't be any kind of adaptation that honors its source. Forget about pleasing the fans; the changes are of the wholesale variety. Nothing Russell mentions in his interview rings true with the game, and that's a big, fat red flag in my book, no matter how talented he might be.
Russell says that "Uncharted" appealed to him as the adaptation he wanted to do "because it's centered around a family," which really just doesn't make any sense. He admits that he'd like to please the gamers -- you won't with this, David... trust me on this one -- "but if you don't have the characters, and the whole world that's really bizarre, I don't think you have a movie that really grabs you by the throat."
That at least makes sense. In fact, the reason "Uncharted" -- the game, that is -- is such a tempting subject for a film adaptation is it's devotion to storytelling and a style of presentation that mirrors many modern-day blockbusters. I think Russell's idea sounds cool, don't get me wrong. But let's please stop calling it "Uncharted" so that a filmmaker with proper respect for the source can try his or her hand at it? Pretty please?