Why The Last of Us is Worth Your Time

Why The Last of Us is Worth Your Time
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Why The Last of Us is Worth Your Time. Let’s be super clear. Hollywood’s success in the film adaptation space of video games has been less than stellar. Tomb Raider is a wasteland of horrible movies. BloodRayne, Far Cry, Mortal Kombat (snicker), Resident Evil (some say Mila was successful, maybe with 1… sorry, love Mila, but I disagree.). Regardless, there is a long history of failures in this space. But today, TODAY, might just be different. Maybe, just maybe, The Last of Us will be different… and so I want to explain why The Last of Us is worth your time. Okay?

Reason #1 – Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal – single handedly breathed life into the idea that Disney could create serial content out of the Star Wars universe by creating a runaway success out of the Mandalorian. The script was basically a dusted off western trope, but it was Pedro (and Grogu) that breathed new life into it. He was big in the Game of Thrones, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, etc., etc.

Reason #2 – The Game Content Itself

Let’s just start with this: The Play Station community voted The Last of US the game of the decade. The game kicked off over on Play Station 3, and continued its success on Play Station 4 as the new game engine breathed new life into the story and the characters. Which, should tell you something important.

The reason most game franchises don’t survive the transition to the silver screen is because the games aren’t built with story in mind. Meet cobbler, go on side quest, earn enough for better sword, attack small boss, meet with cobbler again, go on new side quest, earn even more for an even better sword, this time unlocking a little bigger boss. I’m sorry, but this formula generally doesn’t lend itself to movie making. Everything has to be recreated from scratch in order to make it work. AND THAT MAKES THE GAMERS MAD. But with The Last of US, you actually have a really compelling story. Which brings us to reason #3.

Reason #3 – The Story

The plot of the game is that in 2013, there was an outbreak of mutant Cordyceps fungus… and it blisters the United States, flipping humans into horrific zombie like creatures called the Infected. Joel and his daughter Sarah run from the outbreak, but Sarah is killed in the chaos. Twenty years later, the United States is zoned off in totalitarian quarantine zones. A group of “fireflies” push back against the regime locking the United States down. Marlene, the head of the fireflies offers a reward for smuggling Ellie from a place outside the zone in Massachusetts. But it’s discovered that she is infected… but was infected 3 weeks prior… and outbreak normally occurs within 48 hours. Hrmm. So it may very well be that she is immune… and her immunity might be salvation for the world. Therefore, Joel realizes that Ellie is important… really important. And he needs to get her to someone that can help use this new information. See? It’s a compelling story in its own right. The bones of the game are really good – and would translate well to the screen. Better yet, … reason #4.

Reason #4 – The Creative Director

Neil Druckman was the original writer for the game, The Last of Us. He was also the creative director for the game. Guess who wrote the screenplay for the show? Neil Druckman. Normally, a video game creative director wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere near a show’s screenplay. But, not only was he given screenplay dibs, he was also tapped as the director for one of the episodes as well. Craig Mazin helped co-write, and he’s known for his brilliant screenplay for Chernobyl. So, between these two heavyweights, we will have a great through-line of the original heart of the story, but we will also have the screen experience to pull this story off.

The Last of US – Release Schedule –

  • Episode 1 (January 15)
  • Episode 2 (January 22)
  • Episode 3 (January 29)
  • Episode 4 (February 5)
  • Episode 5 (February 12)
  • Episode 6 (February 19)
  • Episode 7 (February 26)
  • Episode 8 (March 5)
  • Episode 9 (March 12)

Where Can You Watch? HBO+

THiNC. Thoughts on Episode #1 – Probably should have just lead with this – but Pascal and Ramsey are a truly delightful watch together. The jump cuts forwards and backwards lend pathos and weight to the story, and purpose. It grounds these characters as individuals with baggage and psychological debt. Flipping back and forth between Joel forwards and backwards, and his having to come to terms with reconnecting with a girl his daughter’s age is heart wrenching. And Ellie is downright perfect… she’s hopeful and a smart-ass.

This is can’t be overstated: Pascal and Ramsey are magic together. Watching Joel recoil at the prospect of connecting with a girl near Sarah’s age is heartbreaking, and Ramsey is pitch-perfect in capturing the crux of Ellie, which is that despite the messed up state of the world she’s grown up in, she miraculously maintains a sense of hope and wonder that shields her from corruption—to a point. Ramsey also really lands the smart-ass and gutsy side of Ellie. I also love the visual style of this show, the added elements of the possibilities of a fungal outbreak being worse than a virus induced pandemic (take that covid!) … just so many things to love with this show.

Other Innovative Zombie Movies:

First, before I get to the other zombie movie recommendations – did you know that I once interviewed a virologist because of their innovative zombie apocalypse research? I kid you not. Like, serious scientist… doing zombie virus spread calculations. You can check that awesome interview out right here.

As for a list… all of these are zombie movies which do not follow the standard tropes, and each one is awesome for their own reasons:

THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD – 4.2/5 – wherein a couple hole up in an apartment in the middle of Paris… a closed box blender of brilliance.

THE CURED – 4.7/5 – wherein we discuss what happens when zombies, who did horrible things – ate people – get cured. Yeah, let that simmer just a second.

PONTYPOOL – 4.5/5 – a closed box zombie movie without any zombies? Maybe there are some, but I don’t remember them. But it works. Really works.

LA REVÓLUTIAN – 4.2/5 – French Revolution caused by Zombies? Could happen…

Edited by: CY