Well the wait is over and The Last of Us adaptation for HBO aired last night. And before I get fully into this review I need to tell you that the team on this had some very big shoes to fill. The video game source material is excellently presented and has a fan base that rewards it for a masterful take on story telling. So how does the HBO series fil these massive shoes? Well, it’s a perfect fit.
So how does it hold up to the game? Well it adds some things, it takes away some things. This is par for the course with any adaptation, and I think it’s something we need to let go of as it’s going to happen. Now I have reservations on any translation like this that would be a line for line shot for shot remake as for a viewer that knows the material might be just sitting there waiting for the inevitable to happen. But that can be easily quelled with a cast that does a good job of not just translating the material but becoming a good representation of the character. And that’s where this series shines. Pedro Pascal is playing Joel who had his life ruined at the onset of the outbreak. Now 20 years after those tragic events Joel is a smuggler willing to do whatever it takes to try to survive. For the first episode we see a dramatic character change due to all this and Pascal’s acting delivers a performance worthy of the source material while also making this his interpretation. Bella Ramsey also delivers a performance perfectly encapsulating the character Ellie. Because when you first meet Ellie, well, you hate this kid. I swear the character Ellie when first introduced is annoying, rude, and generally unpleasant to be around. So I’m going to love watching the character development because you will love her by the end of this. Now Gabriel Luna has always been one of my favorite actors to watch. He’s a fellow Texas boy so I’m biased. As Tommy Joel’s brother he’s really taking the to the role and in past interviews explained how he’s had some input on his take on Tommy. We’ll see more of him later in the series but his initial presentation is great and I can’t wait to see more. Someone I wanted more of was Anna Torv as the character Tess. There’s a part in the game that was taken out and I really wanted to see it. But after watching the episode I can see why it was cut. Tess is the smuggling partner of Joel and joins him on the mission to take Ellie to a location the organization the Fireflies contract them for.
I could go on and on about this cast but I do have to get to the settings and camera work. The series begins in Austin before moving to Boston post pandemic. I’m familiar with the Austin area and the initial opening of the game and the events that happen there are perfectly recreated. A lot of this series is going to take place in some unique and breathtaking settings and I’m holding them to that. But also the camera work capturing these scenes is second to none. Look it may seem I’m biased here but quite the contrary. I went into the first episode highly critical as I’m a fan of the source material and hold it in very high regard. And it rose to my expectations and has raised the bar for all adaptations going forth. A number of properties out there could take notes on how it’s done and follow the example. The Last of Us was top notch
The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max. The series is set to have a 9-episode run and I’m hoping season 2 covers the second game. Get ready for an emotional ride folks because I sure am. Also check out HBO’s YouTube channel for some additional material on the series.
Jason The X
I’m telling you people not familiar, you’re not ready, but then again, neither am I. Follow me @JasonTheX