This Review Is Spoiler-Free

The Last Of Us is one of the most anticipated video game adaptations ever. There’s a so-called “curse” of adapting a video game for TV or movies, but in this case, it goes far beyond that in its opening episode. First, The Last Of Us has to show how the ordeal involving Cordyceps infection began. Like The Walking Dead and similar viral-based apocalyptic series, it’s riveting and terrifying. There’s nothing scarier than when order breaks down, and it’s chaos in the streets. That would typically make The Last of Us into a very similar sphere, but the performances and attention to detail set it apart from the rest of the crowd.

The Last Of Us stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie. If you’ve played the games, you know how powerful and touching the relationship between them is. Pascal gives one of his best performances in the series, giving Joel tenderness and intensity that’s the same as his video game counterpart.

The first 30 or so minutes follow Joel and his family. It takes place in 2003 and shows the infection’s beginnings. It’s a typical day for Joel, his brother Tommy, and his daughter Sarah. However, things slowly unravel to the point of order breaking down. Infections pop up with the Cordyceps fungus turning people into mind-altered zombies. For people who don’t want to see Romero Zombies, these are fast, agile, and deadly monsters that, combined with fungus coming out of their mouths, are genuinely horrifying.

A Set Up For The Future

Pedro Pascal as Joel in The Last Of Us on HBO Max.

The premiere of The Last Of Us does more than provide an excellent setup for the outbreak in the series. It gives us the first indications of the wonderful relationship between Joel and Ellie. That relationship is the backbone of the games, and it’s no different here for the series. Everyone is interested in Ellie (for reasons you find out later), and Joel has to shepherd her across dangerous territory filled with zombies and humans. Like The Walking Dead, humans might end up more dangerous than anything else.

Joel and his partner Tess leverage Ellie to get supplies from the Quarantine Zone in Boston. We get our first taste of Ellie and Joel in the last minutes of the premiere. Right away, it shows Bella Ramsey’s chemistry with Pedro Pascal. He’s gruff, rugged, and tries to get to the point as fast as possible. Bella Ramsey performs amazingly as Ellie, giving the character her take but doesn’t stray far from the video game. Fans of the games will enjoy how it plays out.

As for what’s in the future, there’s enough setup for people who have never played the games to enjoy The Last Of Us. However, you don’t need to play the games to enjoy this series or its first episode. Writers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann give humanity to the proceedings that add a level above being a post-apocalyptic series.

From the get-go, The Last Of Us is a huge step forward for television and the genre as a whole.

The Last Of Us airs this Sunday, January 15th, 2023 on HBO Max.

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