Tired of watching only comic book movies adapt colorful insanity to the big screen for billions of dollars? Well a new crop of video game movies are also finally making some significant progress. Granted, based on the imagery we’ve seen for both the live-action Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog movies coming next year, some of that progress is a bit horrifying. But it’s progress nonetheless. Plus there’s new Mario movie in the works.
The whole point of making a video game movie is that a big video game is just another #brand that everyone knows. Mario, Sonic, and Pokemon all became permanent parts of shared culture throughout the 80s and 90s. And since then other games have reached that level of iconic as well, iconic enough to get their own movies. After much turmoil, both the Uncharted and Minecraft movies finally seem to have settled on solid directors.
A crown jewel of modern PlayStation hardware, the Uncharted franchise turned the globe-trotting antics of pulp heroes like Indiana Jones into a blockbuster interactive action adventure. But the game’s reliance of shorthand and cinematic tropes pulled from more recognizable albeit non-gaming sources also made the idea of a movie sound weird, like a copy of a copy. Maybe that’s why previous directors like Shawn Levy, Neil Burger, King of Kong’s Seth Gordon and for some reason David O. Russell (with Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake!) have all dropped out of the project.
However the Uncharted movie is now in the hands of Dan Trachtenberg. His debut film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, was pretty fantastic. And he has experience translating his honest gamer enthusiasm into film, directing the fan film Portal: No Escape in 2011. Sony’s new golden Spider-Boy Tom Holland (not Nathan Fillion) is also still set to star as a young Nathan Drake, hopefully helping the movie feel more distinct from its cinematic ancestors.
If the Uncharted movie’s problem is that you basically already know what an Unchartedmovie looks like, the Minecraft movie has the opposite problem. How you adapt a massively popular and lucrative game that’s basically a sprawling geometry sandbox for kids into a movie? Do you just rip off The Lego Movie? Did anyone really care that much when Telltale tried to turn it into an adventure game?
Funny enough, Shawn Levy was the first director announced for a Minecraft movie, before dropping out to take a stab at Uncharted. Next Rob McElhenney (Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) was attached and honestly his departure still hurts. The creator of Always Sunny of course knows how to make awful people entertaining, which is the perfect mindset for dealing with Minecraft’s awful famous orc creator Markus “Notch” Persson. Plus we could’ve gotten a Danny DeVito cameo as a Creeper. Here’s hoping new Minecraft director Peter Sollett, of Raising Victor Vargas and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, can build something beautiful out of this pile of blocks.
Here’s also hoping the Uncharted and Minecraft movies both wind up better than the Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed movies. Shoot for a modest Tomb Raider level. For more on video game movies check out our rankings of the Pokemon anime films and play the cinematic choose your own adventure games that inspired Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.