Score: 8|10 Cheeseburgers
Adaptations are no doubt some of the most interesting and entertaining things to watch. When we see a book come to life on the screen, or a fable or even a biographical telling, it usually garners a large audience of loyalists and fans. Adapting many visionary projects takes experience, intelligence and professional dedication. Sometimes, one adaptation can be much more blunt, and straightforward than others. However, when it might seem easy to adapt a story, many fans find themselves disappointed in the result, fixating on unnecessary liberties taken by the executives or creative teams. Adapted into an HBO series, The Last of Us is one of those that the fans will love.
Adopting the Adaptation
While the series has a way to go, the first pair of episodes themselves satisfy expectations for those who have enjoyed the video games. When the first game was released in 2013, the extremely cinematic introduction gave us a cinematic integration of dramatic gameplay. The entire intro sequence was so impactful and intense. It truly felt like you were playing the characters in a film right away. In the first episode of the HBO series, we are not just delivered this with accuracy toward how it was adapted, but we see skillful integration into a live-action representation. The realism is increased. While we can validate that we have something very loyal to the predecessor, we are introduced to surprises letting us know we are on a journey entirely of its own.
Pedro Pascal as Joel is a pretty great match, simple as that. Seeing what he did under a mask as The Mandalorian only escalates what he does when we can see his full performance. Bella Ramsey is a great choice for Ellie and it's great to see her in something challenging beyond Hereditary. The extent to which original game series creator Neil Druckmann is involved, likely has a lot to do with the detail and continuity between the game itself and the HBO series in look, feel, style and story. It reminds me of Frank Miller with Sin City and Anne Rice and Interview with a Vampire. Adaptation projects lucky enough to have creator enthusiasm and involvement seemingly please the fan base more often than not, and there is an added sense of bolstered satisfaction and fulfillment for the invested audience.
The team of Cinematographers have done a very fine job at matching the in game cinematic shots, which also serves as a reminder as to how cinematic the game itself was, and the talent it took to portray that virtually. It's very clear that following the references was of paramount importance. There is much more to be said, but it's probably best to let the series play out in full before diving too deep. One thing is for sure, it's a great series to have on your schedule.
While there are moments we know are ahead, how we get there is a riveting mystery. If you were a fan of the cutscenes in the games, sit back and get ready for one that never ends. If you are new to The Last of Us well just think of it as a more intense, aggressive and cinematic Walking Dead mixed with a slower paced 28 Days Later... yea, those types of zombies. Regardless, if your origins call to Night of the Living Dead or PlayStations Resident Evil, you will find yourself entertained.
New episodes of HBO's The Last of Us air every Sunday at 9pm ET/PT and on HBO Max. If you have watched the first episode and are interested in comparing it to the game intro, you can watch the game intro by following this link. If you have not watched it and have never played the game, spoilers! The Last of Us Intro HIGH QUALITY - 4K HDR - YouTube