The Last of Us premier brings refreshing take on video game adaptations


“The Last of Us” won game of the year in 2013, and “The Last of Us Part II” won the same award in 2020.

When it comes to video game cinematic adaptations, there have been very few that have lived up to the hype from the source material. Netflix’s adaptation of “Resident Evil” fell short, the “Mortal Combat” and “Assassin’s Creed” films were terrible, and even “Uncharted”, which starred Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg was a disappointment.
Because of this, many fans of “The Last of Us” franchise were nervous when HBO announced that it would be bringing an adaptation to its streaming service. However, the premier of the show was fantastic, with beautiful cinematography and a suspenseful plot that eases any fan’s fears.
Written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the show brings the characters Joel and Ellie to life. Mazin is best known for his work on “Chernobyl”, the award winning HBO mini series. Druckmann led the team responsible for creating the original “Last of Us” games. The roles of Joel and Ellie are played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, both who also starred in “Game of Thrones”.
Episode one covers the infamous prologue of the game, showing how a fungi-caused pandemic starts a zombie apocalypse. Joel Miller and his daughter Sarah are living in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, when the pandemic begins to spread.
Nico Parker’s portrayal of Sarah is excellent, showing viewers a kind, compassionate daughter as she goes through her day. She visits her elderly neighbors and gets her dad’s watch repaired for his birthday. While the show can’t give viewers the same type of connection that a video game allows, Parker’s performance is excellent, conveying fear, tragedy and love.
The same could be said of Pascal’s acting. It comes as no surprise that he performs well; he has been consistently amazing across all of his roles. Pascal truly steps into the role of the grumpy, hardened Joel. When the story jumps from the outbreak to a post-apocalyptic Boston, the tragedy felt 20 years prior clearly still takes a toll on Joel.
The relationship between the young Ellie and Joel is fantastic. It is clear that Joel is fearful of developing a connection with someone that reminds him so much of his daughter. Both characters are dry and witty, and they go together very well.
From the very beginning of the outbreak, the show is tense and dramatic. The combination of a fantastic score and great sound design brings viewers into the zombie apocalypse. Like any good horror/dystopian show, it feels like anything could be waiting for the heroes around the next corner.
The scenes of the city falling to chaos are some of the best in the premier. Fiery explosions and monsters destroy the city that is shown as quiet and peaceful in the beginning of the show. Through Joel and Sarah’s eyes, you see neighbors become vicious zombies.
But what the show does the best is create an atmosphere with engaging scenery. The crumbling, overgrown ruins of Boston are eerily beautiful. The use of light and shadows truly immerses viewers in their world.
As far as video game adaptations go, “The Last of Us” is by far the best that I have seen. It manages to stay loyal to the source material while still establishing characters in a meaningful way. The premier shows that the series is in good hands, and will hopefully continue to do so.