There have been many failed adaptations of video games, with only a handful that have worked. With the massive fanbase The Last Of Us has, we can only imagine that bringing this to the screen was daunting. Nevertheless, loyal fans of this gaming franchise have been excited but cautiously optimistic since the HBO series was announced.
Luckily, the season perfectly follows The Last Of Us Part I, with just a few minor adjustments that were clearly made to benefit the story. This is likely mainly due to Naughty Dog, the game’s creators, being such a significant part of the series from the start.
The Last Of Us season 1 follows Joel and Ellie on their journey through a post-apocalyptic world. Ellie is a young girl who just so happens to be the hope for all of humanity, and Joel is tasked with bringing her to the people that can deliver that hope.
More dangers arise in a world where a fungus has grown and adapted to take over humans, controlling them to kill one another and allow the fungi to spread and survive. Specifically, the people that have become raiders, killers, or worse.
A Near Perfect Storytelling
The season as a whole is nearly perfect. The only issues we have with it, as game players, are nitpicks. There are minor changes in characters and storytelling, but only when it benefits an on-screen adaptation. Probably the biggest issue, which honestly is no big deal, is that there are not nearly as many infected as we see in the game.
That being said, it makes perfect sense that the story is focused mainly on Ellie, Joel, and the people that genuinely shape their journey. Sure, it is fun to see an all-out fight with fungi-creatures, but is that integral to the storytelling? Not really.
When playing a game, yes, you need to continue to encounter them to keep the pace moving and the story entertaining. But in a television series that has the potential to get repetitive quickly, so they need to appear only when the story benefits from it.
Fantastic Casting Choices
With a story like this, it is imperative that the correct casting choices are made. There aren’t many characters in the story, so the ones at the forefront must deliver incredible performances. And that is exactly what every member of this cast does.
Pedro Pascal perfectly embodies Joel, and Bella Ramsey is the right choice for Ellie. They both deliver their lines precisely as their characters do in the games, and their bond is easily felt through the screen by the end of the season. The lines between the game characters and the series characters blur and blend so well that by the end of the season, those who played the game will feel like they were watching the cut scenes. These characters, and the story, come to life in a way that will have longtime fans thrilled and newcomers to the franchise eager to play the games themselves. Even the new characters are woven into the story in a way that makes sense.
It Looks Just Like the Game
The set design and how the infected look and move are perfectly adapted from the video game. It is hard to adapt something so beloved, but the team behind The Last Of Us has done it. And they have done it because they didn’t change the look and feel of the story that has resonated so well with those who love it.
This is a double-edged sword, however. Because it is so incredibly similar to the gameplay, there are times when those who know the games inside and out might find the pacing to be a bit slow. This is because it really does play out like the game, which could cause a repetitive feeling.
So does this allow the high stakes to be felt by those who know how it will all play out? The answer is yes. This show does a great job of ensuring that the intense and suspenseful moments are just that: intense and suspenseful. Viewers will be on the edge of their seats as they hold their breath, hoping their favorite character survives or their least favorite dies.
The pacing of it all is brilliant. The creators of The Last Of Us series made the smart decision to have each episode tackle a critical point in the games rather than dragging the series out too long. This choice makes the season moves much quicker than expected, with the final episode, episode 9, covering the plot points of the ending of The Last Of Us Part I video game.
It might seem shocking at first, especially with something so wildly popular. But when you think about it, it is best to do it right rather than try to make it last longer than it needs to. In the game, a lot of time is spent sneaking around and fighting infected. This might look cool in the series, but it would undoubtedly drag things down and make the rare appearance of an infected not nearly as exciting.
The Last Of Us season 1 will have fans over the moon with how it turned out. While there are some slight changes, nothing affects the overall story being told to the point where fans will not recognize it. It is easy to fall in love with these characters and find some that you will love to hate.
The episodes range from 43 minutes long to 82 minutes, giving each one the time it needs to tell that plot point. The cast is fantastic, and the visuals are incredible. We get a little more of the background than we do in the game, which is much appreciated, and the proper way to adapt a video game to a television series. The creators and writers were sure only to change things that gave us a better story. Still, many set pieces and exchanges are literally ripped right from the game, which is jaw-dropping to see play out.
The second season will focus heavily on Part II of the video game, and with a third game rumored to be in production, we can keep our fingers crossed for a third season as well.
The Last Of Us season 1 will premiere on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, January 15th.