It may have taken nearly ten years since the video games’ release, but finally we get to see The Last of Us on the TV screen (which in our opinion is a much better choice than trying to condense a 14 hour+ game into a 2/3-hour movie).
Potentially the biggest struggle co-creator of the game Neil Druckmann would find when developing this adaption would be to strike the fine balance of allowing the story of TLOU to truly breathe and deliver all of its storytelling nuances, whilst taking us on a hard-hitting emotional ride. Thankfully for Druckmann, long time TLOU admirer and creator of the highly acclaimed five-part miniseries Chernobyl Craig Mazin was willing to take on the challenge to do so.
Set in 2003, we meet carpenter Joel (Pedro Pascal) and his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker) put against a backdrop of a looming apocalypse. What the show does brilliantly in comparison to the game is set the scene of the build to the looming threat cast upon them; an outbreak of a cordyceps fungus virus that takes over its hosts’ brains, turning them into cannibalistic creatures. Without stepping into too much spoiler territory, there’s a 20-year time jump following the outbreak, showing the devastating destruction left in its wake and what effect it’s had on our key characters.
Whilst Pascal always felt like a natural fit stepping into Joel’s role and is on fine form here, it’s worth mentioning that despite some fan backlash, Bella Ramsey knocks it out of the park as Ellie in establishing herself in this opener, and will undoubtedly deliver in this key role.
HBO has also clearly spared no expense on fully realising its vision of its post-pandemic setting, with unavoidable aesthetic similarities to Mazin’s Chernobyl. What was an absolute must was the return of the games’ academy award-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, with his dark, intricate and atmospheric approach to the soundtrack.
For die-hard fans, they can rest assured that TLOU provides a chance to re-live a masterful storytelling experience through different lenses, whilst providing newcomers an introduction to a journey in this bleak dystopic world that’ll have a few wanting to pick up a copy of Part 1 and 2 on the PlayStation once the series concludes. Consider the video game adaption curse well and truly broken!
The Last of Us airs on Sky TV and Now Streaming Service in the UK, with the first episode broadcasting live at 2am on Monday 16th January 2023