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Last Of Us Season 1 Review (Spoiler Free): Near-Perfect Video Game Adaptation Till Now

Joel and Ellie
Joel and Ellie

Last Of Us Season 1 premiered on January 15th on HBO and subsequently stream on HBO Max and is based on the video game of the same name. And this is going to be a Last If Us Season 1 Spoiler-Free Review. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna give anything away.

The show’s plot takes us 20 years after an outbreak that has caused people around the world to turn into infected creatures and decimate the world. Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, has to transport a girl named Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, across the country in hopes of hopefully developing a vaccine as her blood is immune to the virus, and she could help create a cure.

Last If Us Season 1 Review

The Last of Us is one of the best video games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and when I remember playing it the first time, I couldn’t get it out of my head for a long, long time after. The performances, the visuals, the way it was developed in terms of its writing and direction, and the action sequences. This was a perfect game in every way. And I would consider it my favorite game of all time on some days.

The Last of Us Season 1 Review

The Last of Us Season 1 Review (CC: HBO)

And so naturally, when you find out that your favorite game of all time is potentially getting its adaptation and it’s going to be brought to the screen, there’s excitement, but there’s also some nervousness. Because you’re kind of thinking in your head, what could you do next, but also what if you don’t do something right? And so naturally, that part of the brain starts operating at maximum OverDrive.

But after watching the show, I can say a few things. Number one, my worries pretty much dissipated immediately after the first episode. Right out the gate, the scale and scope of the Last of Us is shown perfectly.

This is a show that fully understands the environment that the games have pulled off so well, and it puts you into that very, very effectively. It adds on certain things that you saw in the games, and it manages to create a much more worldwide image, where it sort of makes you understand the situation.

And I think Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann and Co have worked together to create something that goes beyond the game. They also added some stuff to it and some changes along the way that actually makes for a pretty strong adaptation. If I had to say right now that this was my favorite live-action video game adaptation of all time. I would be saying yes, that definitely hits those marks and it ticks off those boxes. Because what they’ve done here is very special.

Basic Difference From The Game

In the game, most of the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic, relatively modern-day society 20 years after a devastating infection spread throughout the world. The game only briefly touches on the pre-pandemic world, leaving the player to piece together clues through discovered notes, letters, and recordings.

However, Gabriel Luna, who plays Tommy in the show, disclosed that the show would be living in that time before and during the outbreak for much longer than the game.

The Last of Us game

The Last of Us game (CC: HBO)

In addition, while the game relied on staying in the perspectives of Joel and Ellie in order to keep the player immersed, the game’s Creator Neil Druckman and the showrunner for the HBO series Craig Mazinn said in an interview that they found freedom in moving through time and space in the show. Showing things happening before and during the start of the Apocalypse as well as outside of America.

While leaving things vague in the game left the room to use your imagination, I’m actually really excited for them to expand upon the world a bit more and allow us to grow closer to these characters. And it’ll be super interesting to see how the outbreak plays out in other parts of the world too.

The Lead Cast Of Last Of Us Season 1

See, now in my Last Of Season 1 Review, I won’t just tell you about its good aspects but also its bad aspects. The show is not perfect, I do have some issues and quibbles with it. But one thing that it does absolutely nail, which is I think the show and the game’s most important asset is the chemistry between Joel and Ellie. Without these two, the show fails, the game fails, and so you wanna make sure you pull this off in the best way possible.

And I think in Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey you have two outstanding portrayals of these characters, especially Bella Ramsey. They’re doing an amazing job as Joel and Ellie over here. And if you have any doubts about this performance, throw it out the window.

I think if anything else, the way Bella captures Ashley Johnson’s performance, despite the fact that they’ve said in interviews that they were told not to play the game, I think they captured it so well at times they were actually channeling Ashley Johnson’s voice in a couple of seats, which is insane to think about.

Joel being played by Pedro Pascal

Joel played by Pedro Pascal (CC: HBO)

And Ellie herself in the show is incredibly funny and while emotionally distraught as well, brings so much charisma and life to the entire proceedings. And just like the games, she’s an incredibly well-rounded character. They expand on her moments very, very nicely. And she’s even got like puns and stuff like that, which are really reflective of the character even from the game.

So all those jokes continue to land over here as well. I think that’s one of the strongest things about this show that I honestly have faith in since day one. I saw Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones, and right then I knew whatever performance they’re in next, there’s gonna it’s gonna be an awesome performance, and this is exactly what I meant by that.

But make no mistake, Pedro Pascal is Joel is also fantastic. Once again, does a great job of bringing the character that Troy Baker already perfected in the games really, really well, but also bringing his own energy and flair to it in some really interesting ways.

Something that the show does very well and it can do now because two games exist, is it manages to somewhat merge in things that we know across both in order to create a more well-rounded character. And something that the show does very nicely as a result of that. Because it has these moments with Joel that I would honestly think enhances that character.

Like there’s one scene in particular with him and his brother Tommy, played by Gabriel Luna, who’s also really good at this, by the way, and it’s a fantastic moment because it’s sort of grounds exactly what Joel is going through at this moment.

Sometimes you’re on the move so much when you’re playing the games and you’re often able to miss out on those few things, even though it may come up in like conversations now and then if you pause and take a beat. But this one I think goes a step further in one particular regard. And I thought that was really, really good.

Leader Marlene

Leader Marlene (CC: HBO)

Others Cast Of Last Of Us

As for the other characters from the games that you may know, Anna Tovs as Tess was fantastic and you get really great stuff with her. Merle Dandridge, who plays Marlene in the games and in the show is once again really, really good. Nick Offerman as Bill was great.

And let’s talk about Bill for a minute because in the games, there is another aspect to him that they don’t really go into. And that is his relationship with his partner, Frank. And as you may know in the games they just show a scene where Joel and Bill find Bill’s partner dead, hanging by the ceiling. Joel says: “Well, do you know this guy or something?” Then Bill says that his name is Frank. And that he was his partner. Then goes on to say: “He’s the only idiot that would wear a shirt like that”.

But in the Last Of Us Season 1 show, they decided to do a bigger story around this character, Frank played by Murray Bartlett, who you may know from the White Lotus, and he’s really good at this. This particular thing that they do I think is a fantastic addition, and I’m actually curious to hear what people are going to think of it as far as the storyline and the way things are developed.

And I think it’s gonna be an interesting thing to see how some fans react to it, but I think it’s one of the strongest things that the show pulls off overall, and it adds so much to the thematic element of the two games and also the show.

At the end of the day, it’s not so much about the infected creatures going around. It’s about the connections that we create, and this is a sort of love and the idea of protecting what you can and having what you have right now and holding on to it.

Because things are in a world right now where they’re just falling apart instantly. And before you know it, something will be gone in a flash. So before that happens, you need to make sure you cherished every moment, every second. And I think the show capitalizes on this feeling across its characters in spectacular ways. It is easily the best aspect of this show.

Riley on merry-go-round

Riley on merry-go-round (CC: HBO)

Other characters like Riley played by Storm Reid is also good because they do the left behind the storyline and I thought they captured this really, really nice.

The Action Scenes In The Show

The one thing that I feel like people will really wanna hear about right now in this Last Of Season 1 is the action sequences. So let’s talk about that. They’re not as much in this as they are in the games. They have mentioned in interviews that they’ve toned it down a bit here, but make no mistake when they are in the show when they’re dialed up to 11. You’re gonna witness some truly spectacular stuff.

There’s one scene in particular that I’ve already seen a bunch of times because it’s such a brilliantly done action sequence, and it’s one that I’m sure it’s going to be talked about for a long time. And I can say what it is because it would like spoil stuff and I wanna wait for people to check it out. So maybe if I get to do a spoiler review down the line, then I’ll go more into that stuff.

But going back to the changes for another minute. Something that they do which is become a news report recently is that they removed spores from the show. Now in the games, Spores are essentially how the infection was spreading and if you breathe in those spores then that’s how you get the infection. And so you had to wear masks in areas where there was an intense amount of them because otherwise if they got into you got infected.

In the case of the show, they go for something which is more hive-mind-like with tendrils. And I think it’s a very interesting concept, like seeing in the context of the show it’s actually used in a very effective way. And I thought it was a smart little addition. But make no mistake, it’s not like they haven’t justified this change.

Ellie's face covered in blood

Ellie’s face covered in blood (CC: HBO)

I think at the end of the day, any kind of conversation that goes around on the Internet when it comes to a change or something like that, obviously it’s going to be met with a lot of comments, but more specifically, context is key. Try to take a second before anything just to take a look and you might be actually pleasantly surprised with some stuff that they do.

It’s the same thing that happened with the second part of Last of Us game. While I admit that not everyone was happy with the choices that they made all the time, again with the added context of what was going on, it made more sense as to why they were doing what they were doing. And so I think that that’s going to help a lot when it comes down to judging this show.

Thing That I Feel Off About The Last Of Us Season 1

Like I said so far in my Review of Last of Us Season 1, it’s not perfect all the way. There are things that do get affected in terms of pacing and in terms of storytelling that could have been asked about a little bit more. One thing they add here is a character played by Melanie Linsky, who’s very good.

But that subplot is not quite as finely paced as some of the other sequences. You get a lot of stuff with her, which I thought, “oh”. I mean it’s keeping the momentum ever so slightly lower than it is with other sequences. But at the end of the day, it also has a payoff, which is pretty solid. 

But there are things that they have adapted straight from the games that I thought they kind of rushed through. And I thought that was a little strange because there’s a sequence, a couple of them in particular, where in the Games I remember being on them a while longer. But in the show, they kind of go through that in like a span of five minutes.

The place where the outbreak started

The place where the outbreak started (CC: HBO)

And I suppose the logic is, well, in a game you have to sort of map it out and figure out how to get out of there because NPCs are coming. But in the show, you’re just kind of being like fast going through it. But at the same time, I was like, well, you could have taken a little longer in these, let it breathe out a bit.

Nonetheless, it still works for the most part. It just feels like very rushed at times, which didn’t make any sense to me. Like you have a lot of time in this show to pull off certain things. It’s just a little thing that did kind of bother me a little bit.

I do, however, want to make note of the fact that if you’re somebody who wanted to watch a carbon copy of the video game and the show. Then I would suggest just playing the game. Because in adaptation changes are made. There are things that they do a little differently, and I think in this case it’s trying to tell its own story as well with the material.

I think at the end of the day, what really mattered to me personally is that I wanted the show that captured what made the games work. What made the game special. When I get out of the games, the creature design, which is great by the way.

The stuff that you get with the clickers and even the bloater at one point is Immaculate. Major props to the production team for pulling off some spectacular visuals and gorgeous action sequences. But when it goes back to the games, it also comes down to that emotional core and they pulled that off nicely.

Final thoughts on The Last of Us

Final thoughts on The Last of Us (CC: HBO)

Final Thoughts On Last Of Us Season 1

So, I would say as a show, it’s not 100% doing what the games do, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think it justifies everything that it does do, which is slightly different, but overall it manages to be a very solid adaptation of the game. And it is probably my favorite live-action video game adaptation to date, and I highly recommend, of course, checking it out. If you’re a fan of the games, you were gonna check it out anyway.

And I’m excited to see the reactions coming in from fans over the course of the next few weeks as the episodes drop and the conversation around it builds. As I said, some things you’re just absolutely going to love, and I know for a fact because they’re just so well done, you cannot appreciate some of the craft and a lot of the craft on display in fact. 

So, in this Last Of Season 1 Review, I’m gonna give the show “A-“. I cannot stress how much I kept thinking about the two lead performances after it was over these two are so God damn brilliant in this show. And I mean whatever else you had, throw it out the window. I’m telling you you’re gonna see some white stuff over here.

Also Read: How To Watch The Last of Us Episodes? Streaming Guide

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I'm gonna put some dirt in your eyes.., yeah I'm a Bully Maguire Stan. I love movies(Spiderman), Series(GOT), Anime(AOT), and Music(Zayn & One Direction). If you are the same then we can be Besto Friendo.

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