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HBO's The Last of Us

The Last of Us - Season 1

Eirik has watched HBO and PlayStation Productions' show and ends up calling it the best adaptation ever.

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My reviews of The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Part II have hopefully made it absolutely clear that I adore Naughty Dog's two post-apocalyptic games. That's one of the reasons why I've been a bit sceptical about HBO and PlayStation Productions' TV-series, which makes it all the better and surprising that the end result is the best adaptation of a video game in the film and TV industry ever.

HBO's The Last of Us

One of the main reasons for this is that the show does a tremendous job of retelling The Last of Us' outstanding story while also depicting new never-before-seen parts of the universe. A great way to both entertain and surprise those of us who know the inns and outs of the game and give new viewers a deeper understanding of the world. Top that with a few big and small changes and it's safe to say Joel and Ellie's adventure is a must-watch on HBO in the coming weeks, even if it's to just be a part of what I'm sure will be some heated discussions.

Because some of the changes are without a doubt going to please, anger or anything in-between fans of the game. The fact that tweaks had to be made because recreating certain moments would be extremely difficult to do without putting people in danger, ruin the pacing, and/or blow the show's budget in terms of runtime and money into pieces, but that doesn't mean we're not allowed to dislike a couple of them. I won't spoil the ones that made me wrinkle my nose. Let's just settle with saying that one or two of the twists and turns aren't handled as well in the show as in the game. Whether it's because we get less time with the characters and world, less satisfying acting or that Neil Druckmann (one of the games' main creators) decided to end his episode in a..."more artistic" way that kind of questions parts of the universe's core elements.

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Don't get me wrong. Me calling the acting less satisfying at moments doesn't mean it's always worse. It's just different. Both Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Nick Offerman and a handful of other actors deliver amazing interpretations of their characters. I thought they wouldn't be able to get close to the game's beloved versions, and even surpass them a few times, so it's fantastic to see them mostly nail it. Sure, the differences are weird at first, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with this story again after getting used to the mix of old and new.

An aspect the show does bloody near flawlessly is the handling of the infection. Multiple trailers have obviously given a clear indication of this, but it's still goose bump inducing to see and hear just how fabulously recreated the infected are. Their sounds are basically the same as in the game and I hope the effects and make-up teams get a ton of awards thrown their way for how they made these creatures terrifyingly believable. Add the beautiful cinematography and Gustavo Santaolalla's stellar music and I'll say The Last of Us deserves to be mentioned alongside beloved shows like Game of Thrones and Succession in HBO's already impressive portfolio.

That's right. The Last of Us is just that good. To put this into perspective: I've never bothered re-watching a show weekly after seeing it pre-release before, but I can't wait to see every polished - and not early screener versions with missing special effects, ADR etc - The Last of Us episode alongside you every week. While getting a retelling of a story I've gone through in a masterpiece of a game before lessens the impact to some extent, there's no doubt that The Last of Us series isn't just the best adaptation we've ever seen of a game - it's also one of the top TV shows out there, period. It allows more people to experience the game's masterful story and spices things up for fans with some interesting changes and new great actors. My biggest gripe is that it also shows why a game is a far better medium than any other, as not getting as much control of the characters and world makes this adventure a tiny bit less impactful. Not a big deal when everything is said and done, however. The Last of Us is still 2023's first must-watch TV show, and I can't wait to see how it handles the sequel if (hopefully when) HBO greenlights season two.

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