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SYFY WIRE reviews

Critics say Sony's 'Uncharted' is fun, if forgettable, adaptation that plunders from the best

Uncharted opens in theaters everywhere Friday, Feb. 18.

By Josh Weiss
Uncharted PRESS

Was it worth the 14-year wait to see Nathan Drake hit the big screen in Sony's film adaptation of the Uncharted video game series? According to the first reviews, the answer might depend on just how much you adore the franchise. With the film opening next weekend, reviews are fairly mixed, and it remains to be seen if the movie curse (a fitting word in this case) will be broken.

While many critics agree that the blockbuster (directed by Zombieland and Venom vet, Ruben Fleischer) is, at times, breezy fun, it can't reach the dizzying heights of its acclaimed source material. In fact, critics say the finished product apparently feels more like a series of callouts to other beloved treasure hunting properties, mainly Indiana Jones, National Treasure, and even The Goonies than a fully-formed adventure all its own.

Tom Holland (fresh off the box office smash that is Spider-Man: No Way Home) stars as a young Nathan Drake, who finds himself on the trail of a legendary treasure that's been lost for centuries. Holland is said to repeat his Peter Parker act, though that charm only carries it so far. Mark Wahlberg co-stars as Drake's mentor/treasure hunting partner, Victor "Sully" Sullivan, but if you're hoping for a games-accurate representation of the character, reviews say it doesn't exactly thread the needle.

Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, and Tati Gabrielle round out the principal cast.

As expected, Sony hopes to launch an entire film franchise off this feature, prompting the inclusion of a post-credits scene (so don't leave your seat). The film, which opens in theaters next Friday (Feb. 18), currently holds a score of 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes as a point of reference.

Head below to see what critics are saying...

"Uncharted must have looked like a natural movie to make, because the game it’s based on is so cinematic. But what that means, in practice, is that the game crossbreeds legendary movie tropes in an abstract way, and when they’re adapted back to the big screen the abstraction is still there. Uncharted is a lively but thinly scripted and overlong mad-dash caper movie, propelled by actors you wish, after a while, had more interesting things to say and do." -Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"There’s much to suggest that the film is intended as the start of a new franchise. And with plenty of potential and a door swung wide open for a future sequel, Uncharted makes a decent play for filling an Indy-shaped hole in the movie market right now. But the series will need to beef up its reserves of charm and swagger to be in the same league as cinema’s favorite archaeologist." -Matt Looker, Total Film

"There are moments when it jolts into life: a well-executed, lengthy single shot tracking Drake as he freefalls from an aircraft; some Goonies-esque underground map-syncing. But only the final 20 minutes, with a pirate-ship battle that takes to the skies, lives up to the giddy, inventive spectacle of the source material. Otherwise, Uncharted plods around an all-too-familiar map." -Nick De Semlyen, Empire

"It’s a huge greenscreen action-adventure with a reasonable bang-buck ratio, but a box office algorithm where its heart is supposed to be. It’s all about a couple of ripped guys on the trail of some lost 16th-century gold belonging to legendary explorer Ferdinand Magellan; the film cheerfully rips off Indiana Jones, the National Treasure films with Nicolas Cage, and there’s a touch of The Goonies in there somewhere." -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"Holland and Wahlberg gamely try to strike up some banter-y chemistry, but the script saddles them with lame running jokes about Nate chewing gum (wild!) and Sully having too many apps on his phone open. Post-credit scenes signpost with zero subtlety that Uncharted wants to be a franchise. But on this evidence, the journey to box office gold is no foregone conclusion." -Nick Levine, NME

"Uncharted fans will get a kick out of the various Easter eggs and references to the series, including a hilarious cameo, and the Uncharted 3 cargo-plane sequence is well-realized. You'll probably have been more engaged with it as you played it rather than watching it (a common issue with video game movies), but it feels the most like Uncharted." -Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

"With its piracy anchored by a star turn from Tom Holland, Uncharted is harmless fun. Holland may be an unconvincing kleptomaniac but he's adept at stealing scenes and hearts. The Uncharted movie may pilfer from assorted better films, but it's a victimless crime." -Richard Trenholm, CNET

"For fans of the source material, it may be disappointing to see such a rich series reduced to several heavily CGI-ed sequences of people clinging to things mid-air (and the lack of decent puzzles! What is an adventure film without puzzles!). For those new to Uncharted, they’ll just be left to wonder what all the fuss is about." -Clarisse Loughrey, The Independent

Uncharted opens in theaters everywhere next Friday — Feb. 18.