‘The Last Of Us’ On HBO Feels Like A Sure Thing In An Era Of Questionable Game Adaptations

I’m not so sure we can still say that the “video game movie” curse is really a thing anymore. For years, decades even, there were countless video games adapted into movies that seemed to entirely miss the mark, from The Rock’s DOOM to the extremely flat Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed. Don’t get me started on Duncan Jones’ Warcraft.

These days, things are a little better. We have the Sonic movies. We have a bunch of animated series on Netflix that are great. We have The Witcher, which I’m letting the video games take some credit for even if it’s a book adaptation.

And yet we also have…a lot of bad things, still. Netflix’s Resident Evil show. Paramount’s Halo series. It’s a mixed bag.

But even with the recent ups and downs, everything about HBO’s upcoming adaptation of The Last of Us seems like it’s going to be a surefire hit. A new trailer showcased game faithful footage and HBO clearly sees it as a flagship production. And when you examine the series, you can see how steeply the deck is stacked into its favor:

It’s HBO – This may be the fundamental factor here. Even in this age of HBO Max/Discovery drama, the weight of HBO itself still looms large in the industry, and the fact that The Last of Us is an HBO production gives it a heft that say, a Paramount Plus original lacks. From the moment this was announced, there was something to be said for the fact that this project was coming together on HBO, and I’m not sure any other location would have inspired as much confidence.

It’s Neil Druckmann – Did you like the original games? Well, one of the main guys who made them is intimately involved with this project, making sure it’s faithful to the games to avoid a common complaint of the adaptation fleeing the source material (again, see Resident Evil and Halo).

It’s Craig Mazin – You may not immediately recognize his name, but the guy writing the script for this series is also the guy who wrote Chernobyl for HBO, an incredible series and a high water mark for the already prestigious network. I can’t really think of a writer I’d have more confidence in after watching that show.

It’s Pedro Pascal – After eons of fantasy casting for Joel and Ellie, it’s hard for anyone to find fault with Pedro Pascal, whose career has been on absolute fire ever since his days as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones. Now, he had to take a break from his other smash hit show, The Mandalorian, to play Joel here, and I have every confidence in him. I also believe I’ll like Bella Ramsey as Ellie, it’s just that I’ve seen her in far fewer things so far (those few, standout Game of Thrones scenes), so it’s a little bit harder to say with her this early.

It is just…genuinely hard to see how you would combine all these elements together and not get a worthwhile production, and the initial trailers seem to have gotten fans sufficiently hyped. The only real question now is how the series will be broken down between the first and second games, whether it’s one season for each, or if this will be extended into a longer term project for HBO. Still no date, just 2023, so expect more info soon.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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