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96% Rotten Tomatoes?! Here’s Why We Think ‘The Last Of Us’ Is MUCH More Than Just A Zombie Show!

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Source: HBO

“Thanks” to decades of futile attempts, most movies and TV shows adapted from video games tend to be met with narrow-eyed scepticism and angry tweets – and rightfully so! So, when one of the greatest games ever made was announced to be an HBO TV series, we wondered: could it REALLY be pulled off? 🤔

Well, that’s what we’re here to find out! We watched the first four episodes of HBO’s The Last of Us for *coughs* work purposes *cough* to give you guys an honest-to-God review that’s spoiler-free AND suitable for gamers and non-gamers alike.

 

Summary: A tale of fungi, tragedy & hope

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Bella Ramsey (left) and Pedro Pascal (right) lead the show as Ellie and Joel, respectively.

Set twenty years after a worldwide pandemic, a sudden mass fungal infection that transforms people into violent infected creatures (NOT zombies ah!) destroyed the world as we know it. All attempts at creating a cure have failed … until now. Joel, a weary survivor/smuggler, reluctantly discovers that the only hope of saving the human race lies in 14-year-old Ellie, who’s immune to the disease. Thus begins their treacherous journey across the country to save humanity, with very few friends along the way and much more raiders and Infected to overcome.

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Fortunately, The Last of Us blew us away by exceeding our expectations in surprising ways! Not only is it a great TV show that everyone can enjoy, but it also expands the lore and backstory of various side characters that enrich the experience of playing the original game (again). The Walking Dead may come to mind, but the two couldn’t be any more different – The Last of Us takes a more focused approach to exploring the main characters’ pilgrimage and their relationships, whilst giving plenty of intimate screentime to its quasi-ensemble of complex characters.

 

1. Story & characters: A glorious team effort that’s HBO-worthy

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Natasha Mumba (left) and Merle Dandridge (right) as Kim Tembo and Marlene, respectively. Dandridge was also the voice and motion actor for Marlene in the original game!

The story may seem simple at first glance, but that’s because it’s the actors and their characters that carry the show, especially the leads. The first three episodes had numerous supporting characters that were soooo interesting they almost stole the show, but it was from Episode Four onwards that we got to see the potential bond between Joel and Ellie, and the impact they have on each other – all within 40 minutes! That’s some impressive writing right there.

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The world isn’t short of intrigue either, as the line between good and evil is so blurred that not even the main characters are heroes. Everyone in the show is written with noble intentions that we sympathise with, but it’s their questionable methods that make it hard to justify. Then again, wouldn’t WE become desperate and swallow our conscience after TWENTY years of gruelling survival and losing loved ones?

After watching four episodes, our favourite story (so far) had to be Episode Three. To avoid spoilers, let’s just say the central relationship in this episode will go down as one of the most beautiful tear-jerker stories ever told. It’s a shame that some will nitpick the wrong things about it, especially when it’s written and acted with such earnestness and maturity.

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Joel’s daughter, Sarah, played by Nico Parker (bottom right) during pre-outbreak days. Really followed the game (top) lah! 

“I wasn’t scared of anything until I met you.”

 

2. Production & creature design: A terrible world beautifully torn asunder 

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Anna Torv (right) guest stars as Tess, Joel’s partner-in-crime.

Who knew a ruined world could be so breathtaking? From crumbling buildings blanketed in lush greenery to the eerie vines of lethal fungi, everything is designed in painstaking detail that we can’t help but respect – they even put a lot of thought into mundane things like car wreckages or abandoned offices!

What really sets The Last of Us apart from its counterparts, is the uniqueness of the zomb- I mean, Infected. Instead of just CGI, practical effects were used to bring the Infected to life vividly with meticulously-detailed prosthetics. It’s also refreshing to see how they stuck to the fungus theme and made their Infected distinctive yet creepy works of art.


The Infected horde comes in different stages that affect their appearance and movement, such as Stalkers and Clickers (pictured above).

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How Clickers looked in the game. They were brought to life so *chef kiss* perfectly, from design to their guttural clicking! 

 

3. Faithfulness to the game: Unexpected surprises that elevate the story

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Stills from the show (top) and the game (bottom). Plenty of easter eggs that pay tribute to the original game are scattered all across the show.

For gamers who wondered how it fares as an adaptation, we’re happy to announce that it’s THE most faithful video game adaptation ever made! Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey may not look the part, but they absolutely nailed the mannerisms and logic of the Joel and Ellie we know and love.

Whilst the core story remains intact, the showrunners took the liberty to expand the plot a fair bit, as well as making very few but major changes. But do put down your pitchforks, because they actually IMPROVED the original story, with even more world- and character-building that we never knew we needed. One supporting character, who appeared in the game for 30-odd minutes, was given a complete backstory that made him more relatable.

 

4. A bleak future lights up: “It can’t be for nothing.”

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After four hours of prestige TV, we can somewhat safely say that The Last of US TV show is in good hands – emphasis on “somewhat” because we’re expecting more changes to happen in the show. Though the original story is already perfect by itself, they’ve proven (so far) that the differences actually improve the overall plot. BUT to be safe, we’ll stay cautiously optimistic first.

If there’s one thing we have full faith in, is that they’ll continue nailing the beautiful monstrosity of the Infected. And based on our glimpse of Episode Five, one of the most terrifying Infected types will finally be gracing the TV screen in full glory: the Bloater!

With what we have so far, we 100% feel that The Last of Us is THE must-watch TV show of the year for everyone! With compelling humanistic drama, amazing set designs, top-notch acting, and white-knuckled action sequences, it’s everything you could want from a five-star TV programme.

 

Venture forth into the unknown with us!

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The Last of Us is now available for streaming on Astro! Catch new episodes on demand every Monday at 10AM (same time as the US!) via Ultra Box and the Astro GO app, or watch it on HBO CH411 at 10PM on the same day. Better yet, those subscribed to Astro Movies Pack can watch it all for FREE! Not a subscriber?

Mari enjoy 20% OFF for the first 8 months of Astro Movies Pack when you sign up online today, and savour the latest movies AND the biggest TV shows on the planet!

Here are all the goodies you can savour as an Astro Movies Pack subscriber:

  • 30 days Entertainment Plus Pack channels with FREE preview
  • FREE Plug & Play activation – Ulti Box (RM39 OFF)
  • 90+ channels
  • Includes Disney+ Hotstar and HBO GO
  • Complimentary access to the Astro GO app

Additionally, to celebrate the popularity of the show, Astro will be hosting a roadshow for The Last of Us @ KLCC from 22 – 27 Feb, featuring post-apocalyptic Instagram hot spots inspired by The Last of Us, as well as an up-close-and-personal horrifying 3D experience with an Infected.

Sign up for Astro Movies Pack now to watch The Last of Us on astro.com.my or WhatsApp “GET ASTRO” to 03-9543 3838.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Source: HBO
Source: Playstation
Source: HBO
Source: Playstation
Source: HBO
Source: Playstation
Source: Astro



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