HBO Max The Last Of Us review (SPOILERS!)

Johnny Novgorod

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Well, some mixed feelings about the first episode. The show looks a lot like the videogame, sometimes frame by frame and word by word, which is great if you're like me and want to point and clap but it does make everything feel a bit fake as well. Everything looks a little bit too aesthetic and calculated to be as grim and gritty as the story wants it to be.

I don't know how I feel about splitting the point of view across a bunch of different characters instead of following Joel most of the time. To me this just creates situations where you're just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Isn't it much more effective if we're introduced to Tess through Joel? If we learn about Ellie's immunity through Joel, instead of getting it spoiled earlier in a scene that takes away the mystery of what's the dealio with Ellie?

Mixed about the actors. Pedro Pascal is simply too cuddly as Joel. I don't get the grizzled dead-inside fuck off notes from game Joel. In the show he isn't merely annoyed by Ellie; he's already bickering with her (and she cracked his code too! What a chump). There's not that much distance to close between the two.

Sidenote: I've never seen Bella Ramsey in anything, but discovering her here she looks weird and inbred. Like there's an adult face growing and pushing under the skin of a child's face.

Anna Torv and Merle Dandridge were awesome. Merle kinda goes without saying, but I did not see the lady from Mindhunter pulling the part. She's believably tough and no-nonsense and world-weary in a way that Pascal (see above).

Overall the first episode does a decent job as a first act to what I'm assuming is gonna be a complete adaptation of the game. I liked the first half better than the second half, and some parts felt like a cop out (we're cheated out of the one action scene I was looking forward). Also handing Ellie to Joel felt like a last minute decision in a way that I don't recall from the game, and I'm not convinced it was totally necessary the way it was framed either. But sure, I'm in for now.
 

Casual Shinji

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This pretty much hits on my issue with this episode and likely the show as a whole. I will say that as well crafted as I agree the game is, a much simpler answer as to why the game worked for me but this show doesn't is that the game is interactive. Gameplay on its own is already storytelling - a very personal kind of storytelling. It's why even games with bad narratives can tell great stories; because of gameplay. We all agree the classic Resident Evil games have bad narratives and dim characters, yet they are still well loved, and not because of the magic of tank controls. It's because the story they told through navigating the scenery with these characters was far more impactful than a traditional narrative. And a game that weaves its written narrative together with its interactive narrative in a solid enough manner, like The Last of Us, can't be adapted to screen without losing something crucial.

As an aside though I'll say I would've been much, much more positive on this show/episode if it actually looked well shot, and not like the usual digitally grey and washed-out look that most streaming shows and movies have now.


Pretty much the best scene in the episode, carrying far more tension and weight than anything that follows. Seriously, this little intro might end up being the best part of the entire show.
 
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FakeSympathy

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Episode 2

So the episode starts with a professor in Indonesia, someone whom I'm sure we never saw before, researching the cordyceps fungi. We never got to see how the rest of the world reacted to the beginning of the infection in the original game. I thought this was a nice addition. And guess what? it's just as terrifying, because they decided to bomb the whole city where it started.

We then cut to Joel, Tess, and Ellie continuing their way out of the ruined city. The shots of the ruined city are actually done quite nicely. It is implied that the bombing of cities happened everywhere, which I think is a nice explanation. I mean, we usually see destroyed city all the time, but pass it off has "it was caused during chaos" but never see the actual thing that ruined city. Pretty sure it was implied in the game too, but I just thought it was nice for them to give more details.

The banters the three characters have is great, and kinda funny too. I mean you gotta understand these three don't trust each other yet, but in desperate times, people tend to keep each other company by talking to one another. Ellie still has child-like wonder, which is a great contrast to everything that's around her.

Then we are introduced to clickers. And they are terrifying. They did an amazing job here. The look, the sounds, the movement. Everything is in terrifyingly accurate detail. I was holding my breath while watching this scene. Joel using a loud sound as a distraction was a nice touch. I think it would've been funny if they had a random brick or a bottle lying around to throw.

Then we found out Tess is infected. I mean this scene is still just as shocking as it did in the game. Tess became likable in such a short time in both versions, it was kinda sad to see her die. The one major difference is Tess dies fending off bandits in the game, while she takes down a horde of infected with fire and explosion. She is a badass in both versions.

I would say this was another great episode. It keeps adding new ideas that would've worked great in game, and I am excited for next episode
 

Gordon_4

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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.
Yes he wore a mask in Dunkirk. He was a Spitfire pilot so that sort of goes with the territory.
 

Casual Shinji

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I liked Episode 2 a bit better. Maybe because I'm more used to the changes as they were introduced in the first episode. Don't think I'm too keen on the intro, feels kinda not as impactful as it wants to be, can't say why, just how it's shot I guess.

I sorta like the image of Ellie sleeping in the grass peacefully, symbolizing the fungal infection inside of her being peaceful instead of hostile. I liked Joel and Tess having been wide awake the whole night with their guns trained on Ellie. Makes sense. Ellie's first real introduction to the overgrown world happening in the daylight, since she obviously couldn't see anything in the dead of night, was a nice addition. However, again, the show just can't compete with the game when it comes to visualizing this. In the game the world looks truly overgrown and neglected, in the show it looks more like a hurricane pasted through. Everything looks weirdly... clean. I did like the flooded hotel interior. They actually flooded a whole set for a scene that was barely a few minutes long, and I admire shit like that. Nice touch adding the ducks. Not your usual animals in a post-apocalyptic setting, and it grants the idea of nature overtaking human civilization a certain comfort.

But we do then get a bit with Ellie where she starts playfully acting out being a guest at the hotel, which feels very out of place considering not only the situation they're currently in, but also that Joel and Tess are still wary of her infection. This is an optional moment lifted from the game, but it's way later in the story when Ellie and Joel have a far more congenial relationship. In the show it's like they just squeezed it in for the sake of it, and it runs counter to where these characters should currently be.

We then get to the infected, which I'm mixed about. I like the image of just a giant carpet of dormant infected lying on the ground, only really reacting to streaks of sunlight passing over. But the Clickers feel decidedly less scary, probably because I know it's someone in a suit. The Clickers in the games, eventhough they're mo-capped, have that slightly uncanny videogame quality to how the animate and move through the environment. The developers had the ability to tweak their movement, make it more twitchy and unnatural. The show doesn't, and so they're completely depended on the actors' performance, which just can't be as freaky. Maybe if they fully went for like super gross prosthetics this could've picked up that slack, but while the prosthetic effects certainly aren't bad they again can't match the game. Shoulda got Rob Bottin on this, if he's still around that is.

Not too much to say about Tess' death. It was pretty neat how the zombie coming at her wasn't snarling and ready to sink its teeth into her, but simply went in for a fungal kiss. But then why don't they all do this, why are people, including her, even bit at all? 🤷‍♂️

Overall though, it was an alright episode.
 
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laggyteabag

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Definitely enjoyed this one.

Again, there are a couple of changes here and there, but nothing drastic is different. Tess still gets bit, but instead of sacrificing herself to hold off some soldiers, she sacrifices herself by blowing up some zombies. Its different enough for it to not be a 1:1 retelling, but similar enough so that the show still stays in the same lane.

Otherwise, I was disappointed to hear that the show wasn't going to depict the spores, because I always thought that was a really interesting way to differentiate TLoU's infected from other types of zombie. However, im quite happy that they are involving the mycelium instead; It spices up the same old zombie tropes, whilst still being suitably mushroomy, too.

Im really happy with the way that the show is shaping up.
Not too much the say about Tess' death. It was pretty neat how the zombie coming at her wasn't snarling and ready to sink its teeth into her, but simply went in for a fungal kiss. But then why don't they all do this, why are people, including her, even bit at all? 🤷‍♂️
Not everybody just stands around waiting to make out with a zombie. If you fight (and most people probably do) they will fight back. If you just stand there, I guess they are happy to exert less energy, and just give you a lil smooch instead. The end result is the same.
 
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Casual Shinji

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Not everybody just stands around waiting to make out with a zombie. If you fight, they will fight back. If you just stand there, I guess they are happy to give you a lil smooch instead. The end result is the same.
Yeah, but one is less typically zombie and thus more interesting. Also, the idea of a zombie forcing open someone's mouth to get their fungal bits in is a lot more disturbing then a zombie simply biting someone.
 
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Casual Shinji

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Also, putting blatant contextual gameplay moments in, like the boost-up, moving a cabinet from in front of a door, and a doorway collapsing after having pasted through it to lock the characters in with soon-to-be zombies, I could actually appreciate. It was very clear referencing without feeling like it was winking at the audience.
 

Piscian

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My favorite part of the show is that I haven't played the game in like 5-10 years so I don't remember any of this shit. It's all new and exciting. Shows just great and keeps getting better. Hopefully they never get to the part where ellie turns into hypocritical jason vorhees. That part is burned into my soul sadly.
 

gorfias

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I liked Episode 2 a bit better. ...It was pretty neat how the zombie coming at her wasn't snarling and ready to sink its teeth into her, but simply went in for a fungal kiss. But then why don't they all do this, why are people, including her, even bit at all? 🤷‍♂️
and


Definitely enjoyed this one.

Again, there are a couple of changes here and there, but nothing drastic is different. Tess still gets bit, but instead of sacrificing herself to hold off some soldiers, she sacrifices herself by blowing up some zombies. Its different enough for it to not be a 1:1 retelling, but similar enough so that the show still stays in the same lane.
If you just stand there, I guess they are happy to exert less energy, and just give you a lil smooch instead. The end result is the same.
The smooch reminded me of Aliens 3. The Xenomorph has Ripley up against a wall and is about to kill her when it realizes she is "pregnant" with one of them and backs off. The clicker's smooch is more like a joining than an attack, recognizing her as already infected. Later episodes may prove me wrong.

Sounds like Tess' sacrifice is much more meaningful in this show than the game. I'm barely into the game so, that thing with them lying en mass that way, open to far off communications: that isn't in the game? I thought that all came together terrifically.

I loved that at the start of episode 2, we are again taken to the past, this time from the view of a far off nation just discovering the problem. Well acted and terrifying.
 

laggyteabag

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I'm barely into the game so, that thing with them lying en mass that way, open to far off communications: that isn't in the game? I thought that all came together terrifically.
That is correct. The whole idea of "touching one piece of mycelium, and then waking a group of infected a mile away, because it stretches for miles, and everything is connected" is a TV show original, and doesn't currently exist in the games.
 
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Chimpzy

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That is correct. The whole idea of "touching one piece of mycelium, and then waking a group of infected a mile away, because it stretches for miles, and everything is connected" is a TV show original, and doesn't currently exist in the games.
Guess it serves as a sort of replacement for the spores, give the threat more of a fungus bent. Not a bad idea imo, since otherwise there's not much to functionally distinguish it from a regular ol' zombie apocalypse outside of the Clickers.
 
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FakeSympathy

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Somebody explain why the zombies are making out with people!?
Their take on how the infection spreads asides from bites; Instead of breathing in the spores, the tendrils reaches to new host. This is done so all infected are "connected", hence if you kill one of them, you get swarmed with more. NGL, I thought the kiss was bit uncomfortable, which I think the showrunners intended to do so
 

CriticalGaming

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Their take on how the infection spreads asides from bites; Instead of breathing in the spores, the tendrils reaches to new host. This is done so all infected are "connected", hence if you kill one of them, you get swarmed with more. NGL, I thought the kiss was bit uncomfortable, which I think the showrunners intended to do so
but why would you stand there and make out with a zombie? is this someone's fetish?