Posted Jan 15, 2023, 11:02 AMUpdated on Jan 15, 2023 at 11:20 a.m.
Fans of the video game developed by Naughty Dog can catch their breath: “The Last of Us” is a success on all counts. For neophytes, the phenomenon will not fail to impose itself on them as one of the nuggets of the year 2023. Created by Craig Mazin, to whom we owe “Chernobyl”, one of the best series of recent years , and Neil Druckmann, the creator of the video game saga, there was little chance that this new HBO production would be a complete shipwreck. It’s the exact opposite since in just 8 episodes, “The Last of Us” is on the way to becoming one of the new phenomena on the small screen.
Exploring the consequences of a pandemic caused by the development of a fungus capable of contaminating humans due to global warming, the series benefits from strange timing and easily reminds us of our own dark, isolated years during the Covid. -19. Atmospheric, “The Last of Us” immerses us in a post-apocalyptic society ravaged by a deadly virus since the Bush years, transforming the population into zombies. But unlike the big names in the genre like “The Walking Dead”, “The Last of Us” favors pessimism and permanent horror, a slowness conducive to emotion and humanity.
Carried by a brilliant cast, this first season follows grumpy Joel (Pedro Pascal) and young Ellie as these two makeshift companions attempt to cross the country with the only hope of a vaccine. Bella Ramsey (“Games of Thrones”), the actress who plays the sarcastic teenager immune to infection, is perfect for this role. Whatever the criticisms of Internet users who accuse her of not being a carbon copy of the heroine, the sensitivity of her interpretation, especially in her relationship to Joel who gradually becomes a surrogate father for her, as well as her wonder in the face of the world in perdition which surrounds it, is the strength of the show.
Despite the despair of the situation faced by the protagonists, no one can prevent themselves, comfortably seated in front of their small screen, from being amazed by the beauty of the sets in the series. The populations having fled the big cities, bombarded to stop the spread, nature has taken back its rights on the concrete towers of Boston. Carefully produced, “The Last Of Us” boasts an enveloping soundtrack, taken from its original medium, and a formidable work of light that gives pride of place to the ruins and survivors, just as broken. More than a simple series of zombies, the work becomes a humanist fable, which cheerfully borrows from the genre of the road trip movie and dystopia.
Breaking the curse of mediocre adaptations with flashbacks and wide digressions like its fabulous third episode that features an unexpected romance in the heart of darkness, “The Last of Us” does more than stay true to the license by expanding the game universe beyond the original plot. Difficult to adhere fully to certain choices of the transposition like that of not having integrated the spores into the story. An aesthetic decision more than a technical one, since this would have forced the characters to wear masks permanently, this pandemic of mycological origin is therefore not transmitted by air. Too bad the show does not fully exploit it. Despite everything, this detail fails to undermine one of the most exciting releases of the year. And certainly one of the most ambitious.
The Last of Us
Created by Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin.
With Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Anna Torv.
Available on Amazon Prime from January 16.