So the Last of Us TV show launched and I mean… eh?
It’s undeniably a step up from what has come to be expected from most videogame adaptations – that normally being that mediocrity is the high bar. But it’s still not particularly special and really doesn’t justify it’s own existence in any way. The TV show format doesn’t benefit the show in any way and there really isn’t anything new offered in this adaptation that is different from any other one of the many zombie TV shows out there, or that is better experienced here than in the original game’s telling of the story.
That story of course being a man named Joel transporting a girl called Ellie across the apocalyptic country because her blood can potentially cure the zombie infection, only for him to not allow that to happen because the medical procedure would kill her. He kills a bunch of mostly innocent folk and almost certainly dooms the world, assuming a cure could have been made, because he values his father/daughter relationship with her so much. It’s a good story, sure, but not told as well here as in the original material, which begs the question as to why this show exists?
The zombie stuff isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, the human drama is about on par with any other zombie show you’ve seen and the relationship between Joel and Ellie, while a notable spotlight, just (again) isn’t as good as it’s already been in another medium. The pacing never settles. Characters go from one place to the other simply because it happened in the game, and so the tension almost never properly builds because you know when they’re going to face a certain threat. Sure sometimes human enemies pop up where zombies might have in the game, and vice versa, but it’s always the same result. In fact it goes from A to B so quickly that Joel and Ellie’s relationship never quite settles. There’s no warmth for them to bask in before it is once again challenged, and so the ending that almost pulls them apart doesn’t feel as bittersweet as it should, nor anywhere near as earned as it should.
From a writing point of view it’s just cramming chapters of the game into hour long episodes, which simply doesn’t work when the game you’re adapting is hours upon hours long. And despite the ton of stuff they cut out to make the world and action feel more realistic, it still feels like they’re rushing to hit all the relevant beats in an episode rather than letting those beats happen naturally. Slap two or three extra episodes in this and I think it’d be fine; a whole episode in Jackson with Tommy and a whole separate episode at the university would have allowed for that comfortable zone between Ellie and Joel to come about. But we just don’t get that.
But I like everything else. I like the production, sets and the special effects. I like the actors and their acting; the cast is great in this.
I suppose if you’re not a gamer but have found yourself intrigued by why PlayStation’s linear story games always outsell everything in the market, this might be a glimpse into why. But the fact it’s not really as good as the game and seems to be marketted solely around the fact it’s adapting one of the most well known games of our time gives me little hope it will draw any non-gamer in.
Hell, at work an older co-worker said of it ‘you can tell it was a computer game first‘, which might give insight into the fact that it hasn’t 100% translated between mediums.
For all it’s faults, I would recommend The Last of Us TV show. But only to the narrow audience it has built itself for. I can’t see anyone outside of it, except maybe lovers of the zombie genre, being too involved in what’s going on.
Thanks! There’s been so much media hype over this but I was having trouble seeing what was so special about it. I’m sure I’ll check it out at some point if it comes out on DVD, but I’m not expecting too much.
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Yeah it’s an odd one. Not bad, but as you say it’s not special and in a sense kind of redundant. If they adapt the last of us part 2, I’d be much more interested in how they handle that story and the way they choose to tell it.