The Last Of Us Premiere Review – A Faithful And Brutal Adaptation
The Last of Us series premiere is one of the most accurate and brutal video game adaptations ever created.
The Last of Us series has finally graced our screens, and what a debut it has had. The new series follows the video game created by Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog studio. Druckmann also serves as an executive producer and writer for the new show, which has paid huge dividends, as The Last of Us is one of the most accurate video game adaptations ever.
This review contains heavy spoilers for The Last of Us, so if you have not seen the show, look away now.
To give something a 5/5 means that it has gone above and beyond what was asked of it, and I genuinely believe that The Last of Us show has. The opening of the series did something that was completely unexpected but helped to ease people into the story, especially if they had no prior knowledge of what the video game was about. There is a talk show conversation between two doctors in the 1960s, as they discuss the idea of what a global pandemic would do to the world.
The opening of The Last of Us is perfect in that we see how long it would take for a global pandemic of this nature to truly take hold. The doctors discuss the growing concerns of a pandemic, and how farfetched it sounds during that period. However, considering the world now knows the ramifications of what a global pandemic can be, we can all buy into the story of The Last of Us immediately.
While one doctor speaks on how “ridiculous” a global pandemic is, or the idea of one that would dominate humans, the other paints a harrowing tale of what would happen should something that naturally exists in the world would take over. The pandemic that he is speaking about has everything to do with a fungal infection, which already exists in the animal world, but what if it invaded the human world? The Last of Us series intro sets the stage for people to understand how the world comes crumbling down within 10 years of the virus beginning.
The foreboding doctor speaks about the world heating up (which is happening in real life), and how fungus could evolve and adapt, bringing together its hive mind to take control of everything in its wake. His final line about what would happen if this fungus were to do that is, “we lose,” which is perfection. The Last of Us show then truly begins in 2003, which is altered from 2013 in the video game but helps to kick us right into the year 2023 (more on that in a bit).
We then get into one of the most depressing moments in any video game story, as The Last of Us show sets the stage for Joel Miller, and mimics that same opening as the video game. Joel works hard so that he can provide for his daughter, Sarah, who loves him deeply. The story kicks off in the same way that the video game does but gives us a deeper look at Sarah herself.
While the video game starts with Sarah making pancakes for Joel’s birthday, the series leans into Sarah’s character a bit more but follows the same formula. Sarah is a sweet girl who helps take care of her own father, as she helps him to remember his own birthday by cooking him breakfast in the morning, though Joel forgets to bring home pancake mix. The Last of Us benefits greatly from the relationships shown, and Joel and Sarah become the focal point for everything that matters later.
Even when we start to believe that Sarah might have a dark side, as she looks in Joel’s sock drawer for his watch and money, she takes only what she needs to fix his watch. It’s a beautiful moment that is highlighted more once Sarah gets to town and fixes Joel’s watch for him as his birthday present. But before they leave for town, Sarah speaks to her neighbors, one of which is a comatose old lady that is being force-fed biscuits (more on them in a bit).
The Last of Us then starts its horrific tension, as Sarah starts to notice the emergence of cop cars before she is kicked out of the watch store in a hurry. Sarah arrives back home and heads to her next-door neighbor’s place, The Adlers. Again, The Last of Us series leans heavily into Sarah’s good-natured demeanor, which makes what follows that much more depressing.
Sarah is concerned about the cop cars, but her concerns are silenced by Mrs. Adler, as they bake cookies with one another. Before Sarah finally heads home, we get one of the best shots in the entire The Last of Us premiere. Sarah is packing in her homework, but in the background, we see the comatose old lady start to turn into one of the Infected, which is truly a creepy part that sent shivers down my spine.
Sarah waits for Joel in the same way that The Last of Us video game starts, but instead, the series shows Joel leaving to bail Tommy out of jail. Sarah wakes up in the same manner in both stories, but heads to The Adlers in the show to find answers, only to find the old lady has now feasted on everyone there. The Last of Us show takes things to a far more brutal line and skips right past it.
Joel shows up and saves the day, much like he does in the video game, as he, Sarah, and Tommy try to escape. In their attempts to get away from the Infected hordes, they come across the military, who shoots at Joel and Sarah. Sarah is struck with a bullet and dies in Joel’s arms, kicking off the deep sadness of his character in The Last of Us.
The same moment from the video game is echoed in the series, and Pedro Pascal’s acting gravitas made that moment harrowing to see once again. Sarah is now dead, and we get the 20-year jump to an even more brutal world that is highlighted by a tyrannical government called FEDRA and the freedom fighters pushing back against it. Though The Last of Us video game starts the infection in 2013 and jumps to 2023, the series takes things to a more real-world level by starting in 2003 and heading 20 years to our current year of 2023.
The post-apocalyptic landscape is brutal and driven even further by showcasing Joel shoveling bodies into a makeshift furnace in the middle of the FEDRA DZ (decontamination zone). We see a little boy arrive at the Boston DZ, only to be scanned and found to be infected. A lady helping shovel bodies can’t throw him in, leaving the work to be handled by Joel.
The Last of Us series begins the post-apocalyptic world in the same manner as the video game, as Joel and his partner Tess are still screwed over by Robert. Instead of giving us the first boss fight like in the video game, Robert is killed by the Fireflies in the series. The Fireflies are the resistance group that is trying to fight against the government, who clearly have no qualms with killing, as the previously mentioned little boy is done away with almost immediately.
Although we learn more about the Fireflies in the video game as the story goes along, The Last of Us series sets them up in a better way, by showing Marlene explaining the goals of the Fireflies to a lesser ranked solider. We also get to meet Bella Ramsey‘s Ellie, who is being held by the Fireflies for an important reason. She contains the same level of rude and filter-less speech that Ellie has in the video game.
Joel and Tess were meant to kill Robert for double-crossing them, only to find out that he tried to double-cross the Fireflies too. Marlene offers double the reward for Joel, which means a battery and truck so that he can find Tommy if he aids in transporting Ellie to the Massachusetts State House. He agrees to do so and takes Ellie back to his place to wait for Tess to finish scouting for their trip.
There is a great deal of tension between Joel and Ellie, which also exists in The Last of Us video game. However, in both their acting capabilities, we also see the gleam in Joel’s eye when he realizes that Ellie is much like Sarah. Ellis is smart and capable enough to crack his radio code, which uses songs to relay messages that FEDRA won’t understand.
The Last of Us then kicks into high gear when Joel, Tess, and Ellie run into a FEDRA soldier while trying to leave the DZ, who is then stabbed by Ellie. Through their fighting with the soldier, Joel beats the soldier to death with his bare hands, and they find out that Ellie is immune to the virus.
All three exit into a biological contamination area to escape any more FEDRA soldiers, leaving the series to show a shot of the radio at Joel’s apartment playing a song from the 1980s, meaning that Tommy is in trouble, capping off a perfect first episode of The Last of Us.
What makes The Last of Us so special is that it accurately portrays the given world, and how brutal it would be if a virus truly took over. No one can afford to pull their punches, and survival is at the forefront of every discussion. The accuracy that the show aims to mimic from the video game is better than anything that has come before it.
Even in the buildings, the rundown wallpaper showcases a world that no longer cares about aesthetics. We do get to see the first image of a Clicker on the wall when Joel and Tess are heading to confront Robert, which goes to show that The Last of Us spared no expense in wanting the creatures of the world to look identical.
The opening of The Last of Us was perfect in painting the picture of how the virus will spread, though we are not going to be getting the spores in the air. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin revealed that tendrils will be used, apart from the Infected spreading the virus by biting. Tendrils were originally meant to be used as a way for the virus to spread in the video game but were replaced by the presence of spores in the air and gas masks.
Though some might be a bit upset that the dangers of spores won’t be present, it makes sense from an acting standpoint, as it would be hard to hear the actors who would have to use gas masks in those given situations. One of the only negatives of The Last of Us show is that Pedro Pascal showcased his Texan accent at the beginning of the series, only to drop it completely by the end of the episode.
Despite that small grievance, The Last of Us series is the most accurate portrayal of a video game that I have ever seen. Granted, we are likely to see more of the story altered as the season goes on, but if this first episode is any indication of how the rest of the series is going to look, HBO hit a homerun.