if there is one thing last of us does, it makes the case that video games can have powerful narratives. Players of the 2013 hit game know it, and now 10 years later those experiencing Joel and Ellie’s journey can learn it too. The HBO adaptation stays surprisingly faithful to the source material. Neil Druckmann, creator of the original game, returns to write, joining ChernobylCraig Mazin. Most of the changes come in the form of additions, fleshing out the post-apocalyptic world last of us, Fans of the game should love the recreation of the visuals and additional lore, while newcomers should enjoy experiencing the television version of one of the greatest video game stories of all time.
Both the game and the show take place in a post-apocalyptic America, which has been ravaged by a nasty fungal infection. And this fungal infection is bad, well, turning most of the population into zombie-like fungus freaks. Joel, a disillusioned smuggler, is hired to guide Ellie, a girl immune to the infection, on a cross-country journey to bring her to the people who could potentially find a cure. Along the way, they cross paths with various characters and factions, some helpful, most not. It’s a bleak show, but there are rays of hope.
Well, Ellie, I guess we’re really… The Last of Us
Pedro Pascal has a big role to fill as Joel. Joel goes from a caring father to a broken man during the first episode alone. Throughout his journey, he slowly learns to trust other people again. Pascal is no stranger to playing an introspective hero guiding a kid on a mission, which is evident from his title role. the mandalorian, But here we see him emerging from behind a mask. Pascal shows us a man at his highest and lowest. His emotional range runs the gamut and sometimes does a lot of heavy lifting against the sparse script.
Supporting Joel is Bella Ramsey as Ellie. I have to admit, while Pascal had me sold from the first episode, Ramsey took time to grow on me. Like Joel, Ellie is complicated – moody and hilarious. Ramsey conveys the moody moments well, as Ellie also knows pitfalls and distrusts others. But it isn’t until the fourth episode that she begins to become comfortable with the character’s lighter side. Unlike Pascal, Ramsey doesn’t always find her footing in the role, but during the more intense scenes, she pulls off the character’s pain and anger when it matters most.
A wealth of strong supporting actors round out the cast, playing characters who are a mixture of connivance, mistrust and fear – as well as their ever-so-fungal-infected counterparts. Merle Dandridge returns as Marlene, leader of the secretive group The Fireflies and the only actor reprising her role from the game. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, the original Joel and Ellie, appear in minor but impactful roles. Lamar Johnson gives an emotionally ferocious performance as Henry, conveying the hope and confusion of a child in the apocalypse with Kevon Woodard as his brother Sam—re-imagined as a deacon in the show, Bond to highlight two stocks.
And the two best performances come courtesy of a surprising turn from Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett as Bill and Frank. Their episode marks a significant departure from the game, as the show explores how the couple met and thrived in the aftermath of the apocalypse. This is a great example of how change works for the better. The one-off episode tells how society went from decadence to present, fleshes out the history of the game’s characters, and offers the most hopeful but bittersweet episode of the series. It makes the case for the adaptation as “not just another zombie show” and a way for fans of the game to learn more about the world. last of us, Other additions that serve these purposes include pre-apocalyptic flashbacks of scientists, experts, and governments attempting to mitigate the disaster—caused by crisis control. Chernobyl, A display of Mazin’s touch.
That said, not every change or addition works. Much of the narrative inconsistency comes from the game’s attempt to transform raiders into quasi-legitimate communities. This option erases the appearance of actual marauding bands of raiders, making them less rare than the rarely seen Infected. Characters will mention their fear of raiders, but we never see them. Instead, the “raiders” will attack our protagonists at random and then establish that they didn’t actually attack anyone unprovoked, after returning to their “peaceful homes”. How come the game’s NPCs seem more realistic than these goons?
This vacillation sounds like a relatively minor complaint, and it is, but the focus on these different communities and their household feuds also takes time away from Joel and Ellie’s trek. In a nine-episode season, timing matters. And the distraction away from Joel and Ellie dilutes the impact of the crucial ending. Yes, the show tweaks some details to make the ending still feel impactful, but it doesn’t land as powerfully as the game. It’s a testament to Pascal and Ramsey’s acting that over the last few episodes, they do a lot of the heavy lifting to fast-track the bond between Joel and Ellie.
for example, last of us serves as a case study in how some narratives are better suited to the medium of games. But at the same time, how to adapt a gaming story to filmic media is a feat in itself. For the most part, Druckmann and Mazin’s writing results in changes that serve the emotional and thematic purposes that the gameplay had previously expressed, supported by the cast’s committed acting. last of us Works as both a uniquely successful game adaptation and a breath of fresh fungal life in the zombie and apocalypse genres.
last of us
last of us It proves that video game stories can successfully transition to TV and film, albeit with some necessary changes. Not every variation works, but performances by Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, and the supporting cast fill in most of the narrative gaps. The show has connected fans of the sport and those who do not play the sport. Its world-building and moral questions make for a show worth watching – so don’t be left behind.
- a faithful adaptation that builds on the world of last of us Play.
- Flashbacks that make this version of the apocalypse relevant.
- Solid acting across the board, especially Nick Offerman (who wasn’t even the first choice for Bill!)
- The production design gives the world a real lived-in (and left to rot) feel.
- Narrative inconsistencies when giving backstories to the attackers.
- Not enough time was spent on Joel and Ellie.
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