The Last of Us Season One Review – A Video Game Adaptation That Forgot What Made the Game Special
By Tyler Onna
The Last of Us attempts to break the curse of bad video game adaptations, and while it mostly succeeds, it fails to remember significant parts of what made the game iconic, to begin with.
Over the years, adapting a video game into a movie or TV show has been a near-impossible task. Other than the Sonic movies or the Mortal Kombat movies, Hollywood has yet to crack the code on adapting popular video games into a live-action format. Luckily for fans of The Last of Us, with the aid of HBO and the head game creator Neil Druckmann, fans now have the best video game adaptation, even if it isn’t perfect and stumbles near the end.
It shouldn’t be overlooked how much care went into this adaptation. All the sets are ripped straight out of the game and can be compared side by side with the source material and look nearly identical. Certain moments from the game are recreated, and they are a delight to see on screen. Some of them are even line for line with the dialogue straight from the game, and as a fan of the game, you can’t help but smile watching those scenes.
Pedro Pascal as Joel is outstanding in the show, as is Bella Ramsey, who is outstanding in the show and has a bright future ahead of her, no question. They have incredible chemistry with one another; without it, this show would have no foundation.
There are changes that this show makes from the game to the adaptation, and while some of them are welcomed, other ones are head-scratching. A major change was not including the character of Bill in the main story and instead choosing to give him an entire episode with Frank where he shared a romance with him. This episode was absolutely outstanding and was one of the major changes that aided in how good the show was.
An unfortunate change to this adaptation is the minimal use of the infected creatures from the game. The game featured these creatures heavily and was a huge part of the game. So the decision not to feature these creatures really at all after the fifth episode is puzzling. Why the creators of the show decided to remove key moments involving the infected from the game but keep nearly all of the human moments is something that doesn’t quite make sense. Because of this, specific moments that should pay off, like the finale, don’t feel earned because our characters haven’t been through nearly the amount of stakes in this show they did in the video game.
Another area that this show could have improved was the pacing. The first episode was over an hour long, and it worked perfectly. The longer episodes of this show worked very well in telling the portion of the story they wanted to tell. However, other than one episode with this type of runtime, most episodes, unfortunately, feel rushed in trying to tell what they’re trying to convey. Most of them fly by with little being developed, which is unfortunate.
Despite those issues, The Last of Us is a mostly faithful adaptation of the source material. The performances are incredible, and the production is amazing, and seeing how much effort was put into this cannot be overlooked. Even if it didn’t satisfy everybody, there’s no denying that The Last of Us is a solid outing overall, with most fans craving more.
All episodes of The Last of Us are streaming on HBO Max.