HBO Confidently Adapts Groundbreaking Video Game The Last of Us | TV/streaming

Of course, while these “side missions” are fun, the show is always about Joel and Ellie, two characters that fans started rooting for from the moment the game became a hit. The good news is that Pascal and Ramsey are perfect. The star of “The Mandalorian” portrays Joel as a flawed hero without melodrama, never leaning on some of the crutches that other actors would have used for this performance. It’s a nuanced twist that balances trauma, cynicism and the character’s newfound hope in a way that always feels true. A show like this doesn’t work without relatable human emotions at the center. Not only does Pascal find it, but so does future star Ramsey, a performer who reminds me of a youth Jodie Foster in her raw truth at the moment. We believe that Joel and Ellie actually experience the events of “The Last of Us” as they unfold, even when we players know what’s going to happen, and that’s so critical to its success.

In terms of storytelling and design, the show becomes very familiar to gamers, almost too much at times. There are images taken directly from the game and even the excellent western-inspired score of Gustavo Santaolalla will be familiar. I would have liked a little more of the ambition in chapters three and five, episodes that will rank among the best of the season, not because they directly follow the template of anything that came before, but because they build on it and move it. I wanted a little more build up and the show feels like it’s rushing the last two episodes in a way that made me wonder if that’s where most of the compression happened when it lost a chapter from the first ten episodes, which Mazin said would happen back in July 2021.

These are minor complaints for a series of larger events, one that feels likely to satisfy anyone interested in this kind of raw, post-apocalyptic storytelling. Video game adaptations have often faltered because they didn’t take their source material seriously on a narrative level. They tried to replicate the “fun” of a video game on the big screen, and more often than not they fell flat on their faces. Druckmann and Mazin do not seek to copy how it is Game a video game; they seek to transport viewers into its world for nine episodes, allowing them to get lost in a story that is undeniably brutal and heartbreaking, but also offers hope for what’s to come. In many ways, it’s a perfect story for where we are in 2023, picking up the pieces from the last few years and finding what’s important to us again.

The entire season screened for review.

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