The Last of Us: Is this the best-ever TV series based on a video game?

REVIEW: Could one of the most acclaimed video games of all-time have spawned one of the best film and television adaptations?

While the bar is admittedly pretty low (the multiple Hitman, Tomb Raider and Resident Evil efforts among the many disappointments), The Last of Us (which is now available to stream on Neon and debuts on SoHo tonight, Monday, January 16 at 8.30pm) certainly has a solid team behind it and shows plenty of promise in its first few episodes.

Created by the original hit 2013 game’s helmer Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin (whose last outing was the series that caught the world’s attention in 2019 – Chernobyl), this feels like a cross between last year’s Station Eleven (there are eerie similarities between how the two pandemics start), Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and those early exciting episodes of The Walking Dead that gave the viewer a real sense of space and place and left you feeling unnerved about what was going to happen next.

* Quantum Leap: Sky finally debuts much anticipated reboot of beloved ’90s series
* Alaska Daily: Hilary Swank shines in new Disney+ series from the director of Spotlight
* Netflix’s That ’90s Show, Neon’s The Last of Us, Disney+’s Alaska Daily among January’s must-see TV

Rather than a traditional virus, The Last of Us’ “zombie plague” is caused by a cordyceps (fungal) infection. As a chilling 1968-set prologue involving the television appearance of an epidemiologist suggests, some fungi have the power to possess minds to help them reproduce, but human bodies were always too warm for them to survive in. But, if the world were to get slightly warmer, then – maybe – they just might adapt. And unlike viruses, there would be no treatments, no vaccines, no preventatives, no cures.

Cut to September 2003 and that nightmarish scenario begins to unfold, infections rapidly spreading around the globe. In Austin, Texas, Operation Desert Storm veteran Joel Miller’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday is blighted by the double whammy of his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) managing to get himself arrested and the calling of a national emergency as the infection spreads into the US.

While urged to stay home, Joel believes the only chance for him, Tommy and his beloved daughter Sarah (Nico Parker) is to try and escape the city.


The Last of Us debuted on the PlayStation 3 in 2013.

Twenty years later, it’s a decision he is still haunted by. Now living in the quarantined military compound that once was Boston, he’s just trying to stay alive, keep in touch with Tommy and avoid the worst excesses of the military dictatorship.

However, when his plans “collide” with an attempt by a group of rebels to liberate an apparently “special” teenage girl Ellie (Bella Ramsey) from her captivity, Joel suddenly finds himself making a dangerous cross-country journey that offers the prospect of peril at every turn.

Pedro Pascal plays The Last of Us’ Joel Miller.


Pedro Pascal plays The Last of Us’ Joel Miller.

Yes, there’s more than a hint of The Mandalorian in a conceit involving Pascal and “a child” on the run, and some of the confrontations and action beats are fairly predictable, but there’s also some clever narrative switching and character creation that makes you emotionally invested in what’s taking place.

Each of the opening three episodes takes us on a very different tonal journey. There are poignant love stories, thrilling set pieces and sacrifices and tragedies that will leave a mark (on the audience and the protagonists).

As with Chernobyl, Mazin again demonstrates his ability to draw the viewer into the story – and make them care. And like that brilliant mini-series, he also has terrific cast to call on, which here also includes Nick Offerman, Anna Torv, Murray Bartlett and our own Melanie Lynskey.

Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey and MIndhunters’ Anna Torv also feature amongst The Last of Us’ impressive ensemble.


Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey and MIndhunters’ Anna Torv also feature amongst The Last of Us’ impressive ensemble.

Throw in some truly disturbing Game of Thrones-esque titles and, after a couple of failed previous attempts to adapt The Last of Us, it appears third time is very much the charm.

The Last of Us is now available to stream on Neon and debuts on SoHo tonight at 8.30pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *