The first episode of HBO’s show “The Last of Us” finally premiered Jan. 15. “The Last of Us” is an adaptation of the 2013 post-apocalyptic survival game of the same name developed by the video game company Naughty Dog, which also is responsible for the well-known “Uncharted” series.
The plot involves Joel Miller, a hardened survivor, in a post-pandemic world where fungi-infected zombies run rampant. His path crosses with a 14-year-old girl named Ellie Williams, who might be the key to saving the world.
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as the leading characters Joel Miller and Ellie Williams, with Gabriel Luna as Tommy Miller, Merle Dandridge as Marlene and Anna Torv as Tess Servopolous.
Before the story was picked up by HBO to become a series, an adaptation of “The Last of Us” spent a long time in what the TV and film industry calls “development hell” going through multiple reincarnations as both a feature film and short film.
With the video game franchise having a massive cult following, fans have shown excitement and support for the adaptation since its announcement in 2020 and followed its development every step of the way.
Upon its release, “The Last of Us” received an overwhelming amount of positive reactions.
“The Last of Us” was created and co-written by Craig Mazin, creator of HBO’s Emmy-winning Chernobyl, and Neil Druckmann, the creator of the video game. Critics have praised this duo and the show for staying true to the essence of the game’s storyline and characters.
Fans also haven’t let the effort and care that was put into the series go unnoticed. Several have taken to social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter to express how much they appreciate everything that went into making the show and all of its creative decisions.
Many have pointed out the similarities of the cinematography and dialogue between the game and the show. Some say certain scenes were “shot-for-shot” or “line-for-line,” such as, for example, the scene of the Miller family driving away from their neighborhood to safety.
But the admiration didn’t come without some negative criticism. When the casting of the show was first announced, fans weren’t happy that the actors didn’t look like their video game counterparts.
Bella Ramsey (Ellie) experienced this backlash the most. In a recent New York Times article, Ramsey talked about the backlash she received when she was cast and how it negatively affected her mindset when it came to portraying the character.
Ashley Johnson, the actress that portrayed Ellie in the video game, says that when she first saw Ramsey she thought, “She’s Ellie,” and “She’s so perfect for this role.”
The same can be said for Pascal who was offered the role of Joel by the creators. Druckmann says in an interview with The Wrap that the actor for Joel needed to be tough but also “someone that is tortured and is vulnerable.” He believed that Pascal was able to do that and bring Joel to life.
Despite everything that the show did “right,” fans are still nitpicking at certain details like eye color, facial hair and ethnicity changes of some characters.
As the series progresses we will see whether these criticisms both positive and negative change.
At the moment, I personally don’t mind or care about subtle character and plot changes. An adaptation, to a certain extent, requires some changes to fit into its new format. But I still believe that the overall spirit of the source material should be present. “The Last of Us” does just that. It is refreshing to see a piece of media that I love so deeply get adapted into something that does it justice.
The Last of Us was a comfort for me during the COVID-19 pandemic, surprisingly. It immersed me in a world where I was reminded that the state of things could be a lot worse. It also introduced me to characters and unique family constellations that I’ve grown to cherish.
New episodes of “The Last of Us” premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and HBO Max.