The Last of Us Episode 1 Review
HBO Asia was kind enough to invite little old moi to the special press screening of The Last of Us episode 1 at Power Plant Mall in Makati so on the side of doing a feature on the event, allow me to write a The Last of Us Episode 1 Review. And 9 episode series will be dropping on HBO and HBO Go starting January and stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.
Here’s the official trailer for The Last of Us
SPOILER ALERT for this review
I would like to start this review by saying that this is a really great adaptation for the game. Episode 1 sets the tone, gave us a stronger back story and provides us with sufficient character development to help new people into the fandom understand what’s happened, what’s going on and by the end of the episode give us the series’ mission statement.
What they truly did wonderfully for me was take all the moneyshots from the game and give them literally a different perspective, a different camera angle and moving the POV from one character to another.
I got no problem with the casting of “Game of Thrones” alums Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey for the HBO series. I may have another casting choice but there’s no ill will to Pascal’s casting. I love the guy too much for his role as Din Djarin in The Mandalorian to even look at him negatively. And he plays Joel quite well for the series. His Joel is much like the character from the PS game. He’s stoic and closed off except for a few people in his life twenty years after the outbreak.
We didn’t get much of Bella Ramsey’s Ellie in episode 1 but when she did appear, you can see how good they were for casting her. The young lady Mormont from Game of Thrones is the young woman is the first human being to be immune from the fungus zombie outbreak that caused the death of the world. Ramsey’s Ellie is cocky and also walled up just like her father figure. But she does show some vulnerabilities in the episode while also reminding us folks watching that she’s still a kid with a lot of growing up to do.
Most of the supporting casts here are pretty good. They even give us a deeper look at the Fireflies leader Marlene who we barely touched on in the game. Here she’s fleshed out a teeny bit well. She’s also nailed the spunky, fiery demeanor of Ellie quite well. Cannot wait for the moments from the game where she’s left to fend for herself and encounter bigger threats she has to face by herself.
Story and differences
There’s a lot of things that makes The Last of Us TV series special for me. For one, they actually took the time in introducing the concept of the cordyceps and how they take over bodies of their host (which by the way is an actual thing). Then they spice things up in episode 1’s first few minutes by postulating that what if these fungi, these cordyceps were to evolve because of human activity and that evolution pushes them to take over human bodies. That wasn’t in the game per se (although if you read the notes and the in-game lore this was the same message). It was bleak and set the mood.
Then as the minutes progress, we get to see things pan out like the game. Or most of it anyway.
They did a number of changes for Sarah ( Nico Parker) where she’s the POV character for most of the episode. And that’s where they did a lot of different things making us follow Sarah through her day as she looks for a gift for her father Joel all the while things are unfolding and escalating in the background.
They’ve also done away with the whole Sarah exploring the house alone and instead we are giving a tense moment with their next door neighbors who have already become zombies. Or are already in the process of turning into one. That was a good call for me and a reminder that we are watching a series and not a movie. I’m betting there are a lot more of these in upcoming episodes.
Another difference that people online like to bitch about is the lack of usage of gas masks and the absence of the spores. In the game there are areas that Joel and Ellie travel too that have too much spores which forces the pair to wear gas masks which adds to the suspense as players have to explore or escape tunnels, evade clickers and beasties and solve puzzles or what not. In the series at the very least in Episode 1, we don’t have that. Obvious reason is it complicates things more for the plot and burdens everybody with unnecessary lore and rules killing the vibe and cinematography they want to do. Plus HBO is paying for the actors’ faces to appear everytime so getting the spore – gasmask is just a nuisance.
But don’t think for a second that Pascal can’t act behind a mask. He has been doing that for a number of seasons in his Star Wars show.
Camera Work and other stuff
Have to give credits to Sony and HBO for being able to capture the sorrow, mellowness and somber atmosphere of the music for the series. The game’s music is really good and it’s a shame that it’s underrated.
Visuals are awesome to the point where you gotta cringe at the gore.
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