Wow… I had totally forgotten that I had written this piece back in early 2013. But I read some fans complaining about how the proposed (and still unfilmed, last I heard) “Uncharted” movie was coming along. It reminded me a lot of fan reaction (mine included) to the plans for a reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, and how wrong many of us felt when it came out and it was amazing.
Sometimes you just have to trust the creative team behind the show, especially if they have a strong track record, and hope for the best.
Case in point: Richard Hatch wanted to make a sequel to the classic Battlestar Galactica (BSG). He wanted to write a multilayered story about the ragtag fleet having given the Cylons the slips. Adama had eventually died of natural causes. 20 years (or, yahrens, if you prefer) pass. The people of the fleet had slowly, over time, divided themselves into two factions, one led by Apollo who wanted to remain true to Adama’s vision of finding Earth, and another led by his sister Athena who felt it was time to find a nice habitable world and settle down, rather than living in rickety old spaceships the rest of their lives. The previous generations had all had the shared experience of the holocaust of the Cylons destroying their homeworlds, but into this political maelstrom emerges a new generation, born in space, that has had a very different shared experience, that of growing up living in the ragtag fugitive fleet on its lonely quest for Earth. And then, the Cylons finally find the fleet again, and they’ve been upgrading themselves and are more terrifying than every before.
I thought Hatch’s idea was sweet! Clearly the right direction for a new BSG. The political interplay between the three factions, especially the new generation born in space with such a different set of experiences, so much potential there!
Richard Hatch got most of the old cast together to shoot a self-financed trailer, and wowed the convention circuit to thunderous applause. The strength of his idea, and the professionally produced trailer (done in part by pro bono work from people who work in the film industry who grew up being BSG fans) helped Richard Hatch raise $50 million in committed financing for the project, he merely needed Universal Studios to give him the OK and licence him the rights to the IP. Hatch was willing to do whatever they would let him do with the rights: theatrical movie, TV movie, TV show, video game franchise, anything.
But Universal said no. Instead they green-lit a project by a Star Trek TV writer (Star Trek!). Ronald D. Moore’s project would remake BSG instead of sequel it. Gone would be the heroic heroes, and instead we would have nothing but flawed anti-heroes. The XO would be a drunk, Starbuck would get a sex change, Boomer would get a sex change and more. Apollo and his father would fight, gone would be the loving relationship from the first series. No more would Baltar be a villainous sociopath, now he would be a weak and pathetic character who was nearly a mental case. The Galactica would be transformed from a proud ship of the line to an old relic, about to be mothballed, complete with museum and gift shop in one of the fighter bays. The Cylons, rather than being another race that had a philosophical disagreement with humanity, would now have been created by humanity and rebelled against them. The Cylons would now have “skin jobs” amongst their ranks (an idea taken from the terrible BSG 1980 of all the places to come up with material!) that would use humanity’s sexuality against them.
Fans screamed, how is this BSG? How could this be any good? But it ended up being brilliant, against all odds.
The Uncharted movie won’t be Uncharted the game, any more than the reimagined BSG was the BSG sequel that fans were clamouring for. But tonnes of compromises have to be made in Hollywood to get a production done, and sometimes you just have to trust the creative team to make the right ones. That or set your expectations so low that they can only be exceeded. Either way, as a fan, it’s out of your hands.