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HBO confidently embraces the pivotal video game The Last of Us

HBO confidently embraces the pivotal video game The Last of Us

Through this article, we have tried to examine the differences between games and movies, mainly covering titles that can be considered “cinematic”. One of the most cinematic games ever made is Sony and Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us,” which launched in 2013 and became an instant critical and commercial hit.

After languishing in development hell as a potential feature film for a few years — one that was almost produced by Sam Raimi and almost starred Maisie Williams — “The Last of Us” found a different medium. Took the tough right, and became the first HBO video game.

Adaptation as a multi-season (probably) dramatic series. Out Sunday, January 15, the nine-episode first season of “The Last of Us” closely follows the action of the first game, which was recently relaunched in the PS5 version as “The Last of Us, Part 1.” From the prologue through its heartbreaking true ending.

What is the attraction of this game?

It’s a fascinating denouement of games that rely on character and storytelling rather than action, and it does so in a way that’s confidently grounded. Some of the game’s key set pieces are carried over, but it’s more about survival, growth, and the hope of killing waves of enemies. The result is a show that elevates what was an unprecedented amount of game storytelling in the first place, taking video games more seriously than any adaptation.

This Paul W.S. There is more Cormac McCarthy than. Anderson, and it should appeal to both fans of the game and those who put down their controllers years ago.

“The Last of Us” imagines a pandemic ending the world

After a chilling prologue in which a talk show expert presents his belief that the world-ending pandemic will be fungal and not viral, “The Last of Us” opens precisely in 2003, hours before the collapse of society.

The first half of the first episode unfolds a disastrous prologue to the game, introducing Joel (Pedro Pascal), an Austin-based contractor, and his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna). When a fungal infection known as Cordyceps turns contagious, infected neighbors attack, and planes fall from the sky, the world becomes a terrifying nightmare. Joel barely escapes, but he will live with the trauma of that day throughout the season.

What is the essence of the story?

Two decades to 2023 and a new vision of the world. Most of the population is dead or turned into infected creatures that rip flesh from bone. Major cities like Boston have become quarantine zones, run by ruthless military forces who have formed an underground rebel group known as the Fireflies. In a world with few supplies, Joel is now a smuggler, working on the fringes of society with a woman named Tess (Anna Torv). They are trying to get the elements they need to venture west and find Tommy when they stumble upon something that could change the world.

The Fireflies, led by a woman named Marlene (Merle Dandridge, voice actor of the game’s character), are holding a girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) captive. It is revealed that she may hold the key to humanity’s survival, and it is not long before Joel agrees to transport her west as well.

The journey of “The Last of Us” is reminiscent of projects like “Children of Men” and “The Road” in how it captures a destroyed civilization through the eyes of small groups that travel through it. An episodic season structure allows creators Neil Druckmann (who co-produced the game) and Craig Mazin (“Chernobyl”) to tell Joel and Ellie’s story in well-defined chapters.

One of the many things that work about this show is how much it eschews the nine-part movie structure of modern television and tells its story with a balance of episodic and season-long narratives. For example, the third episode consists almost entirely of flashbacks, taking place during the outbreak and the two decades that followed for a minor character in the game named Bill (Nick Offerman). Co-starring Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”), it’s a phenomenal short film that works in conversation with the rest of the season’s themes.

Two episodes later, Melanie Lynskey appears as a new character named Kathleen, a vicious resistance leader who has become ruthless from all the pain and betrayal in this vision of America. The seventh chapter adapts the excellent expansion “Left Behind” by filling in the necessary back story for Ellie.

Of course, while these “side quests” are fun, the show has always been about Joel and Ellie, two characters that fans started pouring over from the minute the game hit the air. Most comforting of all, Pascal and Ramsey are perfect. The star of “The Mandalorian” portrays Joel as a flawed hero without melodrama, never relying on some of the crutches used by other actors. It’s a nuanced twist that balances the trauma, cynicism, and emerging hope of the character in a way that always feels true.

 A show like this doesn’t work without human emotion at its center. Not only does Pascal find this, but so does future star Ramsey, who reminds me of a young Jodie Foster in her raw, in-the-moment truth. We assume Joel and Ellie are experiencing the events of “The Last of Us” as they unfold, even when we gamers know what’s about to happen, which is essential to its success.

In terms of storytelling and design, the show will be very familiar to gamers, almost too much at times. There are scenes pulled straight from the game, and even the excellent, Western-inspired score by Gustavo Santaolalla will sound familiar. However, I wanted more of the ambition of chapters three and five, episodes that would be among the season’s best, not because they directly followed the template of something that came before, but because they built on that. was constructed. Build it and move it. I wanted to build up a bit more, and the show builds up to the final two episodes in a way that makes me wonder if this is where a chapter was lost from the opening ten episodes, which told about Mazin planning to return in July 2021. The plan was made.

These are minor complaints for a major event series likely to satisfy anyone interested in this raw, post-apocalyptic storytelling. Video game adaptations often falter when they don’t take their source material seriously on a narrative level. Instead, they try to replicate the “fun” of a video game on the big screen and, more often than not, fall flat on their faces. Druckmann and Mazin don’t try to replicate this by playing video games; They want to take viewers into its world for nine episodes, allowing them to get lost in a story that is undeniably brutal and heart-wrenching but also gives hope for things to come. Is. In many ways, it’s a real story of where we are in 2023, picking up the pieces of the past few years and rediscovering what’s important to us.

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