HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ is a video game adaptation that’s really good • TechCrunch

HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ is a video game adaptation that’s really good • TechCrunch

HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ is a video game adaptation that’s really good • TechCrunch

This weekend, HBO and HBO Max will premiere the first episode of “The Last of Us,” a post-apocalyptic thriller based on the popular video game. On Sunday, January 15, it will debut on HBO at 9:00 p.m. ET and stream in 4K on HBO Max. The series will have nine episodes in total and follows the plot of the 2013 game where a fungus outbreak turns half of the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies – aka “clickers”.

Starring ‘The Mandalorian’ actor Pedro Pascal as Joel and ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Bella Ramsey as Ellie, ‘The Last of Us’ centers on these two characters who, at the start, want nothing to do with each other. Joel and his confidante, Tess (played by Anna Torv), are tasked with getting Ellie out of the quarantine zone in Boston and across the United States.

“The Last of Us” is HBO’s first foray into adapting a video game series. But you wouldn’t know based on the quality. After so many failed video game adaptations, the series will likely come as a relief to many “Last of Us” fans. Admittedly, it was co-written by the game’s creator, Neil Druckmann, so there was little room for it to fail in the first place. HBO’s “The Last of Us” is Druckmann’s love letter to the millions of loyal fans who help keep the decade-long franchise alive.

(“The Last of Us” spoilers ahead.)

At first glance, “The Last of Us” might seem like another zombie survival story. However, unlike the gore that’s associated with the genre, the HBO series doesn’t focus on dramatic, long-winded gunfights and cut-to-length undead shots. Instead, it focuses on human relationships between uninfected people as their world grows increasingly uncertain by the minute.

What makes this show so great, in our opinion, is the fact that viewers don’t have to play the game to understand it. Although HBO’s “The Last of Us” is very faithful to the game’s timeline and Easter eggs are strewn everywhere, there are a few key differences that help the story speak to a wider audience.

For example, the game is set in 2033, while the show is set in 2023. This was done to help viewers”connect a little more,” co-creator Craig Mazin said in an interview with CNET. “If I watch a show in 2023 and it’s set in 2043, it’s just a little less real. I thought it might be interesting to just say, ‘Hey look, in this parallel universe, it’s happening right now,” Mazin added.

Another distinction we’ve noticed so far is the depth of the series with Joel’s backstory. The video game’s opening cinematic is only about 15 minutes long, while HBO’s “The Last of Us” takes a longer approach.

The first episode begins with a flashback to 2003, when the first fungal outbreak occurs. In this scene, Joel appears as a less intense man, sleeping through his alarm and dealing with simple issues like forgetting to buy pancake mix. Additionally, Joel’s daughter, Sarah (played by Nico Parker), gets plenty of airtime, with clips of her cooking scrambled eggs, fixing her dad’s watch, and baking cookies with her neighbor from next to. These scenes are unique to the series and give viewers more time to get to know the father-daughter duo, which makes the events that follow all the more heartbreaking.

Picture credits: HBO

The episode then cuts to 2023 when Joel is a smuggler in a quarantine zone guarded by FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency) soldiers, while a group of militiamen led by Marlene (Merle Dandridge) called “The Fireflies” aims to revolt against military oppression and restore government control.

Viewers then meet Ellie, a teenage girl immune to the fungus and held captive by The Fireflies. As in the game, the series will primarily focus on Joel and Ellie’s relationship and how their views on the world differ.

Other characters yet to be introduced include Frank (Murray Bartlett), Bill (Nick Offerman), Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), Florence (Elaine Miles), Riley (Storm Reid), Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), and Henry ( Lamar Johnson).

“The Last of Us” will likely do well for HBO Max, despite the streaming service raising the subscription price earlier this week.

Similar to its other highly anticipated shows like the “Game of Thrones” spin-off, “House of the Dragon,” the company has gone all out to promote its new series. For example, Warner Bros. Discovery hosted an immersive two-hour experience and screening of the first episode in New York City, giving guests a range of “The Last of Us”-themed goodies, photo opportunities and more.

On January 15, HBO Max also launches The Last of Us Podcast,” hosted by Troy Baker, the voice actor who plays Joel in the game. Druckmann and Mazin will also be featured in episodes as they discuss how they made the show and other stories in backstage. Each episode will air each Sunday in tandem with the show.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *