THE LAST OF US. We review the first season
The first season of The Last of Us has just come to an end. The series, which today we can call one of the biggest and loudest hits of this year. On this occasion, we collectively share our opinions about the HBO production. Check out what we think.
To make a perfect adaptation of almost every outstanding work of culture – a book, comic book, film, animation or in this case a game – is almost a miracle. And this time the miracle did not happen. The Last of Us is an outstanding game, and its adaptation … a very good series. Deprived of the level of immersion reserved for interactive entertainment, the story of Joel and Ellie certainly lost a bit, but it was a loss included in the costs. Creators managed to make something bordering on excellence and successfully balancing between faithfulness to the original and its creative development, perfectly reflecting both the plot and the emotional clou of the game: to remain a human being in a world devoid of social frames. And all this in a multimillion-dollar show from HBO, still the most proven brand in the American television and streaming environment. Very good Pedro Pascal, wonderful (!) Bella Ramsey.
The Last of Us is almost 10 years old and I’ve wanted to play it all this time. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. When I heard that a series was being created based on it, I approached it with a certain amount of distrust. After all, most games are rather untranslatable into the language of cinema. I hoped for something good after hearing that it would be a series and after seeing the first trailer. It sounded really good.
After watching the film version of The Last of Us, I feel a bit like I met a unicorn. I think it’s definitely a successful series, a successful post-apocalyptic series, and a successful adaptation of the game. Although not all episodes knocked me to my knees, most definitely cut deep into my head and my heart. I was very excited about Ellie and Joel’s adventures, even when I knew what was going to happen. I cried with them, I was scared with them, and I was angry with them. What struck me the most were the quieter moments, based only on conversations and the characters opening up to others. Characters brilliantly played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. I’m looking forward to the next season.
A successful adaptation of the game and simply a very good series. The creators realized that it was impossible to transfer everything that is characteristic of the game to another medium (e.g. frequent clashes with the infected, which in the original were a natural element of the game, and here sooner or later would become repetitive), and they focused on its heart, i.e. the relationship between the characters in the post-apocalypse. And it worked out great, also thanks to the very well-cast characters; especially Bella Ramsey as Ellie exuded exactly the energy I remembered from the original. The scenes that the creators transferred from the game frame by frame worked as well on the screen as the original ones, and what was modified for the needs of the series most often hit the spot. I liked a certain softening of Joel’s character in relation to the game, where he often single-handedly defeated hordes of opponents, because we controlled him, he could heal on a regular basis, because the gameplay required it. Thanks to this, those moments in which he mercilessly takes matters into his own hands are stronger – Pascal sold it on the screen very well. A few episodes were truly sensational, others “only” very good, but as a whole, The Last of Us series gave me a lot of decent entertainment.
All I have to say about the game is that I haven’t played it. Therefore, I look at the HBO series only in film terms, and spells about how it was in the game have a close to zero meaning for me, as well as flavors referring to the original. In this perspective, The Last of Us turned out to be one of the most interesting series of recent years for me. The creation of a dystopian world is simply sensational, with an interesting idea developing the hackneyed theme of the zombie apocalypse, a suggestive outline of the degeneration of society and quite broadly outlined contexts. What convinced me the most was that the end of civilization is only a starting point for interesting considerations about morality, interpersonal relationships and motivations that guide us. The vehicle here is the relationship between Joel and Ellie – two road companions broken in various ways by life, establishing intimacy in extreme conditions rooted in their personal traumas. The emotional rollercoaster provided by these two, brilliantly played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, is the engine that drives Druckman and Mazin’s series and makes it more than just another adventure story.
The Last of Us is a nuanced, strong and sometimes gripping drama in which you should not expect a happy ending. Although the main dish here is what takes place in the psychological layer, the production does not neglect the spectacular aspect either. The action is sparingly dosed, but when it does happen, it’s absolutely fantastic sequences that give you goosebumps. The craftsmanship of the production compensates for the shortcomings that The Last of Us has at the level of construction of the nine-episode structure – there are moments when the narrative loses its pace, not all threads are convincingly composed, the atmosphere of constant threat disappears in longer parts, reducing the sense of reality rates. On the whole, however, these are minor shortcomings that do not affect the great impression that the season leaves. I will certainly be looking forward to the next one, and before its premiere I will be happy to repeat the first one.