HBO Max The Last Of Us review (SPOILERS!)

FakeSympathy

Elite Member
Legacy
Jun 8, 2015
3,182
2,906
118
Country
US
I am always cautious whenever someone decides to do live-action adaptations of video games. If it's too much like the original game, it often doesn't seem to work as a movie/tv (i.e. Assassin's Creed movie). It can also take too much creative liberty, making it unrecognizable to the source material (i.e. Alone in the dark movie). Only in recent years do creators seem to find a great balance such as in sonic movies and the 2021 mortal kombat.

I love the original TLOU; it's creepy, intense, asks hard moral questions, and makes scavenger gameplay actually feel like... a scavenger game. Ignoring the the controversial sequel and Neil Drunkman's unhinged attitude, I think the original game is one of the best games to come out in this life.

So when I heard the live-action series was gonna be done at HBO, I was both excited and worried. Because it feels like one of those things that sounds easy enough to pull off, but the characters and how they live with the infection can be tricky.

Well here we are with Episode 1, and oh boy did it leave me with lots to say.

Episode 1

First off, it is implied that the cordyceps has evovled to be able to infect humans due to...global warming. Yep. The concept of living organisms adapting to new environment for hte course of thousands of years get thrown out the window, and these fungi learn to control humans in matter of decades. I mean in the game this was never explained, and cordyceps infection just sort of happens out of nowhere. While the series's take does explain on why the fungi started to turn on humans, I can't help but to feel global warming commentary was shoe-horned in.

After an admittingly cool-looking intro sequence, we are introduced to Joel, Tommy, and Sarah. We never got to see much of these three before the apocalypse, so to see their daily lives is actually kinda neat...... Which lasts about two minutes before shit starts to hit the fan.

And when shit hits the fan, oh my fucking god, does the SHIT HIT THE FAN. It starts so subtle, you think we'll get a little more time of happy life, then BAM, chaos everywhere. I love these start of apocalypse scenes. it's chaotic, human kind begins to show their worst sides, and there are always tragic deaths of close ones. Which includes Sarah of course.

So they got the intro sequence from the game right; Familiar yet fresh. Sarah's death doesn't feel nearly as impactful as the game. It's actually interesting to know the infection started in 2003, whereas in the game it started in 2013.

20 years later, we see Joel living his life without purpose, living in the authoritarian quarantine zone. Again, it's just as horrible as the game, but I feel like they added a lot of ideas that could be happening in the quarantine zone, but were never featuered in-game. Apparently he and Tess are together in this take. In both versions, they clearly care for and trust each other, and I like both.

I like Ellie a lot. She's pretty much 1:1 to her game's counterpart. She's potty-mouthed, innocence is lost, angsty, and fierce. Didn't get to see much of her interaction with Joel, but I guess we'll see in the future.

The episode ends with Joel and Tess trying to smuggle Ellie off at night. Episode 1 covers about the first 1.5 hours of the game.

And you know what? I like it. It's a pretty damn good pilot episode. I'm actually excited for future episodes.
 

Catfood220

Elite Member
Legacy
Dec 21, 2010
2,100
359
88
Great, I can't wait to be told by people that it is the greatest TV show of all time before they turn on it in season 2 when they kill off (spoilers)Joel (spoilers).

Nah, not going to watch this. I already thought the game was the most predictable, cliched piece of zombie nonsense ever. If the show is following the same beats, then I have no interest.
 

laggyteabag

Scrolling through forums, instead of playing games
Legacy
Oct 25, 2009
3,302
983
118
UK
Gender
He/Him
I watched it this morning. Very happy with it.

There are changes of course, but most of the changes so far have only helped to flesh out some characters, or at least give them some more screentime, rather than attempting to change the status quo. For example, like in the game, Sarah is very much the POV character for the introduction. But where in the game she is only in it for a few minutes, the whole first half of the episode is dedicated to her, going about her life - going to school, visiting her neighbours, and getting Joel's watch fixed. Consequently, I was much more attached to this version of Sarah, than I was her videogame counterpart, and subsequently was more upset when she was killed (the excellent performances all around also really helped).

This is definitely a very faithful adaption of the source material, and I think fans of the game will be very happy with this version - like I am.

And whilst I am very happy that this exists, and really excited to see more episodes, I'm just kind of jealous that The Last of Us got this fantastic adaption, and Halo was comparatively brutalised a few months ago.

At the end of the day, I just hope that this can be a wakeup call to more filmmakers looking to make adaptions, where they aren't scared of just retelling the same stories that made the franchise famous in the first place, instead of ripping out the most recognisable aspects, and cobbling together their own gibberish that fails to hold an audience for more than one season. More of this, please!
 
Last edited:

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
Legacy
Jul 18, 2009
19,744
4,519
118
I watched the first episode, and I'm not too sure. There's a certain awkwardness to hearing lines that are straight from the game in the show, and I can't say if this is because I'm just too used to these lines being in the game or if it actually makes the dialoge flow a little off.

I sorta like that first half hour, it's got some decent scenes. When things go bad there's a real nice maelstrom of chaos where's it's hard to tell where anything is coming from. The rest of the episode I'm a little less positive on. Nothing terrible, just... not the game, which took its time when you first got handed proper control of Joel and let you calmly walk through the Boston QZ and really drink in the scenery. In the show Boston feels way less defined and is relegated to maybe two streets and a couple of rooms. What I feared would happen has happened, and that's that the show simply can't rival the visual breath of the game. And while most of the game is about the characters, the scenery gave an almost equel amount of life to that experience and within this first episode of the show it doesn't have anything to replace that with.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie are fine, but Joel for some reason already seems to view Ellie as a surrogate daughter in some small aspect, which feels weird. That whole scene where him, Ellie, and Tess are held at gunpoint and he gets a flashback to when Sarah got gunned down, triggering him to go into murder rage, was just kinda silly. In the game this was simply a case of Ellie accidentally escalating the situation due to the fear of being found out and shot by the soldiers, prompting Joel and Tess to kill them since they would very likely get implicated and killed themselves. But in the show Joel puts himself between the soldier and Ellie and then gets post-traumatic daddy killer rage. Also, him wanting to travel arcoss the U.S. to reunite with Tommy feels equally un-Joel.

Bella Ramsey's performance I feel would benefit a lot from not trying to uphold an American accent. Her English accent is naturally pretty thick and you can tell she's straining herself trying to not let it out, which comes at the cost of her performance.

I did actually quite like Anna Torv as Tess. It's different from the game, but I'm digging the bruiser/ball buster attitude she brings to it. Her face looks like it's on the verge of having a violent mental breakdown in nearly every scene and I kind of love it.

Anyway, I still don't feel this really escapes the videogame adaptation curse unscathed. Maybe if it carried itself with the same amount of confidence as a Game of Thrones or Westworld, but it doesn't.
 
Last edited:

BrawlMan

Lover of beat'em ups.
Legacy
Mar 10, 2016
27,332
11,444
118
Detroit, Michigan
Country
United States of America
Gender
Male
Nah, not going to watch this. I already thought the game was the most predictable, cliched piece of zombie nonsense ever. If the show is following the same beats, then I have no interest.
I am not seeing it either, but for those that enjoy the show, more power to you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gorfias

gorfias

Unrealistic but happy
Legacy
May 13, 2009
7,132
1,888
118
Country
USA
That fungus zombie thing is a real phenom.


As reviewed in my non-movie take I thought this very good, close enough to the source material and I really enjoyed the opening explaining this phenom.

I do have to complain of how manipulative I thought killing Sarah is. I only played the 1st 1.5-2 hours of the game. Got to pick back up it but have to wonder how much more of it will be that manipulative.

(At 12:45 or so).


Sheesh! 9 years ago!

ITMT: I am very much looking forward to episode 2. I hope the quality of episode 1 and respect for the game continues. (Jeremy of Geeks and Gamers worried that the stars apparently were told NOT to play the game to avoid giving them preconceptions. What was that all about?)
 

Chimpzy

Simian Abomination
Legacy
Escapist +
Apr 3, 2020
12,360
8,644
118
That fungus zombie thing is a real phenom.
Yes, cordyceps is a real thing, but it can't infect humans the way it does insects. Our nervous systems is far too complex for that. If it were to jump to humans, it'd most likely just make us sick than turn us into fungus zombies. Would probably be relatively easily curable with antymycotics like most any fungal infection, tho might be dangerous for immunocompromised people.

In short, fungus zombies, like all zombies, are silly nonsense.
 
Last edited:

hanselthecaretaker

My flask is half full
Legacy
Nov 18, 2010
8,738
5,905
118
So they got the intro sequence from the game right; Familiar yet fresh. Sarah's death doesn't feel nearly as impactful as the game. It's actually interesting to know the infection started in 2003, whereas in the game it started in 2013.

This to me feels like a pretty big creative liberty to take, but OTOH it’s already been a decade since the first game anyways. I kinda preferred the game chose the future setting since it helps maintain that SoD that’s much needed in these kinds of stories. Like, as good as Terminator 2 is it just doesn’t have the same impact now when Sarah says, “Three billion human lives were lost on August 29th, 1997.” But back then in 1991 it was more like, “Wha… Oh fuck no way!!

But that element of uncertainty and plausibility is gone now.
 
Last edited:

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
Legacy
Jul 18, 2009
19,744
4,519
118
Yes, cordyceps is a real thing, but it can't infect humans the way it does insects. Our nervous systems is far too complex for that. If it were to jump to humans, it'd most likely just make us sick than turn us into fungus zombies. Would probably be relatively easily curable with antymycotics like most any fungal infection, tho might be dangerous for immunocompromised people.

In short, fungus zombies, like all zombies, are silly nonsense.
It does lend for an interesting way to present zombies, which the games and now the show unfortunately never utilized. And that's the idea of a passive zombie infection, where spores infect people but those infected don't become regular murder zombies, but instead just non-aggressively shamble about while fungal protrusions spew out more spores. Sorta like walking plant people that lay waste to entire communities simply by getting too close.

And they got rid of the spores in the show, which was honestly the most interesting aspect to the infection in the games. The spores also gave certain moments a much greater sense of eeriness than they would've had otherwise.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gorfias

gorfias

Unrealistic but happy
Legacy
May 13, 2009
7,132
1,888
118
Country
USA
Yes, cordyceps is a real thing, but it can't infect humans the way it does insects. Our nervous systems is far too complex for that. If it were to jump to humans, it'd most likely just make us sick than turn us into fungus zombies. Would probably be relatively easily curable with antymycotics like most any fungal infection, tho might be dangerous for immunocompromised people.

In short, fungus zombies, like all zombies, are silly nonsense.
I don't know if there is any truth to it but the show says things like cordyceps cannot exist in organisms over 94 degrees Fahrenheit but with global warming, they may adapt to the hotter climate and then be fine with making humans into zombies!
 

hanselthecaretaker

My flask is half full
Legacy
Nov 18, 2010
8,738
5,905
118
It does lend for an interesting way to present zombies, which the games and now the show unfortunately never utilized. And that's the idea of a passive zombie infection, where spores infect people but those infected don't become regular murder zombies, but instead just non-aggressively shamble about while fungal protrusions spew out more spores. Sorta like walking plant people that lay waste to entire communities simply by getting too close.

And they got rid of the spores in the show, which was honestly the most interesting aspect to the infection in the games. The spores also gave certain moments a much greater sense of eeriness than they would've had otherwise.
Can only guess they probably didn’t want people talking through gas masks for any significant amount of runtime.

EFAACD6A-AA8F-476E-9D84-9DE2C6DF82D0.jpeg
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
Legacy
Jul 18, 2009
19,744
4,519
118
And another thing, they use music from the game in the show, but seem to randomly place it without even regarding the context that that particular track had in the game. In the show they use the track 'Home' for when Joel is gathering some supplies from a secret cubby hole, but in the game that track plays during Joel's lie to Ellie at the end and when we then play as Ellie left to sit with that lie. It's supposed to give off a distorted feeling, like something's not quite as right and calm as even the music itself seems to want to imply. It works beautifully for that scene, but in the show it's just there because I guess there has to be some music. It adds nothing and if you're familiar with the context of that track it only serves to detract from the scene.

Gustavo Santaolalla received top credit for the score in the show, but I don't think he actually wrote new music for it. They just carried his game score over to the show and had a different composer write the newer music to fill in the blanks. So now they're just going to take tracks from the game score and place it wherever they feel like in the show I guess. Lame.
 

Chimpzy

Simian Abomination
Legacy
Escapist +
Apr 3, 2020
12,360
8,644
118
I don't know if there is any truth to it but the show says things like cordyceps cannot exist in organisms over 94 degrees Fahrenheit but with global warming, they may adapt to the hotter climate and then be fine with making humans into zombies!
The 94°F thing is bogus. Cordyceps parasitize insects and other arthropods, particularly flying species like wasps or bees which generally have body temperatures in the 100-104°F range. As for the adaptation thing, only true in the sense that fungi tend to thrive better in warm humid environments. Cordyceps species (there's like 600) are mostly found in tropical rainforests, so global warming might let species migrate to regions now still too cold.

But that's only a worry if you're an insect. Cordyceps infect insects because their nervous systems are simple enough for the chemical mind control trick to work, they don't have immune systems as effective as ours, and there are sooooooo fucking many of them and they reproduce fast, making them excellent hosts. Humans, or really any mammal, are far too complex for cordyceps to zombify. It would just makes us sick at worst, probably do nothing to us at all.
 

XsjadoBlayde

~it ends here~
Apr 29, 2020
3,224
3,362
118
I hate that am going to have to watch this just to make sure I ain't missing out after loving Chernobyl too much. Am conflict emotion!

Can only guess they probably didn’t want people talking through gas masks for any significant amount of runtime.

View attachment 7718
Coincidentally enough, didn't Tom Hardy spend a whole other film in a mask in Dunkirk too? (Also Nolan, wtf has Nolan got a mask fetish??) I remember much praise about his eyebrow work, lol.
 

BrawlMan

Lover of beat'em ups.
Legacy
Mar 10, 2016
27,332
11,444
118
Detroit, Michigan
Country
United States of America
Gender
Male
I hate that am going to have to watch this just to make sure I ain't missing out after loving Chernobyl too much. Am conflict emotion!
Don't let FOMO consume you. I didn't let the both Sonic movies make me go crazy, because I didn't see them in a theater. As much as I like both movies, I don't regret missing them out at theaters. I'm glad I was able to watch both back-to-back on Blu-ray.
 

Thaluikhain

Elite Member
Legacy
Jan 16, 2010
18,741
3,614
118
I hate that am going to have to watch this just to make sure I ain't missing out after loving Chernobyl too much. Am conflict emotion!


Coincidentally enough, didn't Tom Hardy spend a whole other film in a mask in Dunkirk too? (Also Nolan, wtf has Nolan got a mask fetish??) I remember much praise about his eyebrow work, lol.
Also, for a significant chunk of Mad Max as well.
 

BrawlMan

Lover of beat'em ups.
Legacy
Mar 10, 2016
27,332
11,444
118
Detroit, Michigan
Country
United States of America
Gender
Male
Don't forget DT, there's plenty that already did that before TLOUS even became a concept. I know you all don't like the original MK movie, but it counts for breaking the curse. There is no longer a curse to break. We've been getting consistently good adaptions now. I appreciate that you still remember Castlevania.

 

Dalisclock

Making lemons combustible again
Legacy
Escapist +
Feb 9, 2008
11,271
7,060
118
A Barrel In the Marketplace
Country
Eagleland
Gender
Male
Episode 1

First off, it is implied that the cordyceps has evovled to be able to infect humans due to...global warming. Yep. The concept of living organisms adapting to new environment for hte course of thousands of years get thrown out the window, and these fungi learn to control humans in matter of decades. I mean in the game this was never explained, and cordyceps infection just sort of happens out of nowhere. While the series's take does explain on why the fungi started to turn on humans, I can't help but to feel global warming commentary was shoe-horned in.
There was a sci-fi TV show from like the 1990's or something where a detective was investigating murders that were being caused by a group of people who were basically sociopaths because Global Warming was causing humans to "evolve" to not need empathy and be "better" or something like that. Apparently they were going to supplant us and also any kids from the new type of human breeding with a human would always be a sociopath global warming baby and.....yeah. I watched the first episode and never watched it again. Oh, they also have mild superpowers because why the fuck not?

Oh, it was literally called "Prey", because of course it was. And it got one season before being canceled. The fact I literally forgot it existed until now tells you loads about how good it probably was.
 
Last edited: