The Last of Us follows a recent run of bringing video games to life in the streaming and film world, but can it do a deeply loved game justice?
The Last of Us is based off a PlayStation game (originally released in 2013) of the same name. A mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungus creates a global pandemic, bringing humanity to its knees. It follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) trying to survive amongst the threats of the infected, who become terrifying zombies, and also more prominently the healthy…! He gets charged with getting Ellie (Bella Ramsey) who is seemingly immune, to a safe location where they can create a cure. They have to travel across a desolate America avoiding rebels, law enforcement and the infected.
There are lots of issues when creating a TV show from a video game. You have to appease the original audience and also gain new viewers. The recent attempts from Paramount with the Halo series showed that it is not easy. However, I am happy to say that The Last of Us has smashed it out of the park. I have never played the game personally so as such I went in blind. This was good as it was all new to me, with some of the big twists and plot points truly surprising! The are details for the die hard fans, plus some of the voice actors from the game appearing in cameo roles.
One of the main reasons it has been a success was that the two writers for the show Neil Druckmann was the game’s original creator. Alongside him was Craig Mazin, who’s CV includes the very well received show Chernobyl. To have the games creator on board brings with it the relief that it won’t stray from the source material. Combine this with a decent budget and we get a perfect combination.
The main standout for me was the cast, there was so much depth to each character. Pedro Pascal brings us more of his adoptive dad vibes, who as the show progresses gives us more and more insight into his personal struggles. With his saviour being Ellie who in parts begins to replace his own daughter who died. What starts off as a chore and a burden looking after Ellie turns into his sole purpose. Bella Ramsey shines with her character being brought up in a quarantine zone with no memory of the world before. She puts her all into this role, her tough outer shell can often indicate she is invulnerable. However, there is a turning point for Ellie where we see that she is really a scared 14 year old. To switch between this persona really proves how well she is cast.
Some characters are only around for a singular episode but this never felt rushed at all and all proved their worth. A specific highlight aside from the main duo is Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett playing Bill and Frank respectively. In an episode that barely mentions or features the shows main threat. It is a love story in an apocalypse, which brought the best out of Offerman whom I have only seen in comedic roles. The pair really showed the shows heart and sorrow all in just one episode, it really was an incredibly moving piece of television. In amongst the doom and gloom we are given some truly heart warming scenes with Joel and Ellie, cracking jokes, being witty and overall charming.
The show also highlights one key aspect of ‘horror’ shows/films. Often the trap can be to over indulge us the viewers with gore and constant rampaging zombies or various monsters. With a complete opposite take, The Last of Us uses its main ‘big bads’, both human and non-human sparingly. With the main threat being the humans themselves, this was in my opinion the most shocking and ‘scary’ aspect, as what humans will do to survive can in cases be horrifying. This happens a couple of times in the series and when the penny drops with some characters, it really shows a dark side to the show which sets it apart from current TV.
This alone is what makes it one of the best shows I have seen in recent times. It now makes me want to play the game. Having spoken with people who have played it, they can confirm that it is very accurate and well represented. So if you are on the fence or worried that you need to have played the game to enjoy the show, I can with full confidence say you don’t need to worry. The show with its great cast, scenery, tension and dialogue make it the new standard for TV shows of this nature going forward. I am eagerly waiting the now confirmed second season!
Author: Tom, Bath Store