By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

We have an ORIGINAL FILM THIS WEEK!!!! Well….hold on. This IS based on a beloved video game series produced by Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. It’s still a new tale though!

A little backstory on this new flick. This has actually been in development since 2008. Also to be noted is that Mark Wahlberg who stars as Sully (Nate’s mentor) was originally cast as Nate himself. This film has went through various producers and directors and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it would ever get made.

I came into this film with low expectations. I LOVED the game series. I’ve played them and the characters and stories are some of the best made in ANY format. This series got me into the PlayStation from Xbox and I never looked back. My frustration and trepidation stemmed from Mark Wahlberg as Sully. I do like him as an actor but worried it was a HUGE miscast. To me, Sully is an old, gruff, treasure hunter with cheesy one-liners and too many cigars. Beth was by my side and along for the ride and she wasn’t as nervous about the casting as I was. I explained to her this was like Indiana Jones. We both love Indiana Jones. Would this film look past a potential miscasting and rise to the occasion or be a wrecked ship before departure?

Onto the film.

We open with Nathan “Nate” Drake (Holland) hanging upside down on supply crates that are quickly falling out of a cargo plane. As Nate (Holland) jumps from crate to crate to attempt to get back into the plane I was immediately reminded of the video games and that sequence is similar to many I have played. However, the CGI seemed slightly off to me. We get one-liners immediately that did bring a smile to my face and my anticipation was building. We shall see….We then cut to a black screen.

What we get here is a flashback between the younger versions of Nate and his brother Sam. Sam is being kicked out of an orphanage and it again brought back memories of the games I’ve played. As Sam leaves I knew this would play to the heart of the story.

We then cut to present day and Nate (Holland) is working at a bartender. He is slinging drinks and flirting with the bar patrons, yet this is all a guise. He wants the expensive bracelet on the patron’s wrist. He gets it. Beth was shocked. As Han Solo was a swindler so is Nathan Drake. We then get the first meeting between Nate (Holland) and Sully (Wahlberg) they have nice banter in the beginning and Sully gets the bracelet from Nate.

The plot thickens. My worry stared at me front in center though. I didn’t see Sully I saw Marky Mark. What we then get is Nathan (Holland) sneaking into Sully’s (Wahlberg) apartment to retrieve the bracelet. They both discuss a BIGGER treasure and an urban legend thought not to exist. Nate (Holland) has no interest……until Sully mentions how he used to work with Sam Drake (Nate’s brother.) See, the brotherly bond is a big factor in this film. Obviously, the men team up.

Ok. No more of the plot will be given. You and I know that a treasure hunt is on the horizon. I keep using cheesy metaphors…I know I know. I think the movie is sticking with me. Here is what works…..THE CAST. I was worried about Mark Wahlberg but truly by the end of the film I saw glimpses of Sully. Sully’s wisecracks and dimwitted charm make for some of the best moments of the film. Holland as Nathan Drake is perfectly cast as well. He uses his athleticism from the Spider-man films to do leaps and parkourish moves that I was accustomed to doing in the game series. Chloe Frazer played by Sophia Ali is a nice love interest for Nate but also holds her own and Antonio Banderas makes a flat villain more menacing. His right-hand…woman Jo Braddock (Gabrielle) is fun to watch too.

The action scenes are fantastic. We see pirate ships and exotic locations. Most of which feels like it was filmed on location. The twist and turns are aplenty and the puzzles will make you smile….”I’m in a Papa John’s right now!” This film was great. It was our first popcorn flick of the year and a crowd pleaser. This is what going to the movies is about. An adventure that had both Beth and I daydreaming and even planning our future travels and exploration.

She’s definitely my female Indiana Jones. She says I am when I’m in flannel and not a suit. The ONLY downside for me was the CGI as I mentioned earlier. In some parts it looked crisp and eye-catching and in others it seemed low budget and off. However, I must note, Bethany (who has not played or watched any of the games unfold) said that this artistic decision was on purpose to allow the audience to feel like they are in a game too.

That’s debatable but I said I would mention it! If you’re a fan of the series GO SEE THIS FILM. If you miss swashbuckling adventures like Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Goonies!, etc GO SEE THIS FILM. I hope we get sequels and a new franchise to be excited about. Until then this is a nice entry and I now must go back and play the games again! 4 ½ stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist