5 out of 5 Stars
HBO’s newest series, “The Last of Us,” is a perfect balance of action and authentic character drama that beautifully explores the complex emotions experienced in an apocalyptic environment.
The show takes place 20 years into a fungal invasion that takes over the mind and body of the host, distorting their bodies through various stages that get more horrifying the further the fungus spreads.
The story follows a smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal), as he delivers fourteen-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to Wyoming through a newly desolate United States.
Based on the 2013 PlayStation exclusive of the same name, the series sticks close to the game’s original storyline (even copying certain scenes word-for-word), while adding more context and backstory that make it interesting for those familiar with the story.
I was initially cautious about whether the show creators would do the game justice. Anyone who has seen “Prince of Persia” or “Assassin’s Creed” knows that history has not looked kindly on the video game to cinema/TV adaptations. “The Last of Us” does not follow this trend.
The character dynamic between Joel and Ellie is something I treasured in the game and am happy to see reflected well in the show. Ellie, an orphan raised in the Boston Quarantine Zone military academy, is Joel’s perfect foil. Her eccentric, flippant character contrasts Joel’s gruff and stoic nature to create a captivating duo with the same banter that endeared many in the game to me.
Pascal and Ramsey are excellent throughout the show, and their ability to portray the characters from the game is impressive to watch. It isn’t just the leads, however, that make the series, as even the ensemble cast deliver powerful performances.
Bill and Frank (Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett) are two characters whose relationship didn’t get much attention in the game. Their story only took up one episode, but that space of time alone certainly bonded viewers to those characters.
Aside from the emotional storyline and the fantastic acting, the show visually thrusts viewers into the desolate wasteland of post-apocalyptic America in a stunning way. The opening shots of Boston show the effects of nature’s reclamation of the city. The concrete jungle now resembles an Amazonian mountain range, with waterfalls of vegetation pooling over abandoned vehicles.
For those that enjoyed the game, you can keep your expectations high because this show will meet all of them. The series will still surprise you with a deeper backstory for the characters, which makes the show feel like an expansion of the game.
Students can watch “The Last of Us” on HBOMax. New episodes air every Sunday at 7 p.m. MST.
Photo from thedirect.com