The Last of Us is the series format adaptation of one of the best video games in history. As a true fan, here are my most honest first impressions and review of its first episode, which premieres this Monday, January 16th.
The Last of Us it is one of the stories that has marked my life the most. There are few stories that can truly do that. As a movie and video game lover, I was blown away when I first completed the first video game in the series and completely blown away when I completed the second -the first was published in 2013 and the second in 2020-. My person was not able to face what I had witnessed: a story so deep, so human and so raw that it directly filled a hole inside me and that will always accompany me, since I wanted to honor her directly on my skin. A story that I relive every time when replaying any of the video games it breaks me more inside and teaches me something new.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so, when the first part of The Last of Us was launched for the first time on Playstation 3 in 2013, the reaction was unanimous. The post-apocalyptic horror drama was hailed as one of the best video games of all time. Neil Druckmann – creator of the two games in the saga – introduced the players an immersive and emotionally charged survival story rarely seen in video games before. The combination of an engaging narrative and a post-apocalyptic world filled with morally questionable characters allowed that the game set a new standard in the industry in terms of how far video games could go -or even overcome- to more traditional narrative formats such as film and television. The Last of Us was -and is- pure cinema made into a video game. Because of this, we fans have always asked for a film adaptation to be able to show the world the great audiovisual gem that they have been missing, and this brings.
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A love letter to fans
Efforts to transfer video game hits to the big screen they have always fueled the problems of film studios for decades, as if they were one curse. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of adaptations of great popular sagas that have ended in failureand it is that -apparently- it’s not easy to adapt a video game. The latest example we have with ‘Resident Evil’, which after several failures on the big screen decided to make the jump to the series format, as it does The Last of Us, reaping another failure. Then, 2020 comes and can’t understand my surprise when HBO announces the long-awaited adaptation in series format. Platform reigns over the series by adapting this story into a series? It seemed like it couldn’t be better news until it was revealed that they would be in charge of the screenplay Craig Mazinwho had just premiered the incredible ‘Chernobyl’ a year ago, and video game creator Neil Druckmann. Everything was looking rosy, though the spinet of the adaptation curse would be there.
Three years have passed in which I have been counting the days and – finally – I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of the first chapter in Madrid and I was able to see first hand if HBO has achieved what until now seemed impossible. I as a fan of video gamesof the spectacular story that Druckmann began in 2013 and masterfully continued in 2020, i have to say that The Last of Us series is the best video game adaptation ever made. And I say that simply having seen the first episode. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin don’t just carry an incredible television experiencebut that the production, acting, scripting, directing and even photography work that went into this adaptation is a complete love letter to the fans. Infinite respect for the source material, which also expands significantly, firmly breaks the curse of video game adaptations.
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The visual and auditory aesthetics of The Last of Us -luckily- remains intact in the adaptation. From the design of the sets and costumes to the terrifying sounds emitted by the creatures or the spectacular original soundtrack, the video game world is recreated to an almost perfectionist level. The love with which each apex of the computer-generated universe has been transferred in such vivid and minute detail to the screen is sickening, almost as if one more way to praise the video game. But it is The Last of Us not only excels in production design, but the choice of the cast is another indisputable success. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay are responsible for bringing Joel and Ellie to lifethe two protagonists. Their on-screen chemistry, a key aspect of the story, is evident from the moment they meet. Ramsay immediately won me over as Ellie in terms of spirit and attitude. In the scenes he shares with Pascal and Anna Torv, who plays Tess, he shows his talent and his own contagious enthusiasm for the role. too I recognized Joel directly in Pascalwhat has he known perfectly capture its essence. For the rest of the characters, Nico Parker brings us to a wonderful Sarah, Torv is fantastic as Tess, Gabriel Luna doesn’t appear much though manages to get close to Tommy’s character; i Merle Dandridgewho she played Marlene in the video game, ca now Marlene in the seriesWhat more can you ask for?
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The first episode promises a series out of place
?How does a video game fit so perfectly in which the gameplay parts – when the player takes control of the game – are advancing, searching for resources and shooting? Adding material without affecting the original. And that’s why this series is a good adaptation, because inclusion is monitored and approved -and probably even added- by the creator of the video game. Druckmann, together with the help of Mazin, has filled in the gaps of history with new history. This first episodewhich serves as an adaptation of the video game’s prologue and its first hours, it allows us fans to find ourselves in mostly familiar territoryas the events of the chapter pretty much follow the plot of the video game, even repeating lines of dialogue. New material added is scarce in this first contact, but still serves to paint the world of The Last of Us a little more and add more details to an already fully formed configuration. As a fan, I loved noticing the parallels between the game and the i-series the inherent drama presented by the episode continues to work wonderfullyeven having seen it several times already in my multiple replays. Both screenwriters manage to express the exact feel of the video game fluidlyrecreating movements and moments in an immensely cinematic way. This first episode makes it clear that the series will be spectacular.
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This has just begun
It has become clear that The Last of Us it has all the cards to be the best adaptation of a video game on the screen -at least its first episode already is-, thanks to the excellent castingthe respect to the original script and the amazing attention to detail by the production team. The decision to almost completely replicate the characters, settings and events of the video game down to every little fiber is music to my ears and the best possible decision that could have been made. The opening episode largely adheres to already existing material, to positive effect and the end result is entertainment that works because of a plot that was already excellent and continues to be. Druckmann has already stated that there will be a second season that adapts the events of the second game – the best for me – if this first one works, and seeing the respect and love for the fans and the history of the video game, I have no doubt what will happen This first episode premieres tomorrow, January 16, on HBO Max and will continue in a weekly format. I invite you to dive into one of the best stories I’ve ever seen.