HBO ‘The Last of Us’ Trailer Breakdown: Are We Looking at the Best Video Game Adaptation Ever?

We are getting more and more movie and TV adaptations of video games these days. Some of them were good, and some of them were not. When we look at the movies, many video games were adapted for the big screen. Tomb Raider was adapted several times, with two different actresses. Mortal Kombat was adapted several times as well. Assassin’s Creed was adapted too, although that adaptation really isn’t worth mentioning, and Uncharted was also adapted earlier this year into a movie starring Tom Holland.

Video game fans probably know that the Uncharted video game series was created by Naughty Dog, a video game developer who is also responsible for the acclaimed video game The Last of Us, which is now also getting its live-action adaptation, although not as a movie, but a TV series. This TV series is created by Craig Mazin, who created the wide-acclaimed mini-series Chernobyl, and Neil Druckmann, co-president of Naughty Dog and the co-director of The Last of Us video games. When we look at the names that are working on this, what could possibly go wrong?

HBO recently released the official trailer for the series, and we’re here to break it down. Right from the start, we can say that the trailer really gave us the vibe that the game is giving us when we are playing it. If you haven’t seen it already, you can check the trailer down below:

‘The Last of Us’ Trailer Breakdown

Meet Joel and Ellie

For those who maybe do not know, the premise of The Last of Us is set in the post-apocalyptic USA after the outbreak of a mutant Cordyceps fungus, which is transforming humans into aggressive savages known as the Infected. The main characters are Joel and Ellie. Joel is a smuggler who is given a special task, to take Ellie to a place where the vaccine can be made.

What makes Ellie so special? She’s infected but has a special immunity that prevents the transformation. Figuring that Ellie’s immunity can be a key to finding a cure, Joel must travel with Ellie across the United States while their bond eventually grows stronger. The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones, and Narcos star Pedro Pascal is starring as Joel, while Ellie is played by Game of Thrones star Bella Ramsey. Some fans weren’t happy with this casting, particularly with Ramsey, and there are even reports that producers have said to Ramsey not to play the game while preparing for the role.

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The trailer gave us a first look at TV incarnations of Joel and Ellie. We can see how Joel doesn’t see Ellie as a friend, but only as the mission, which is exactly how Joel from the game saw Ellie at the beginning. The whole idea of this story is the development of Joel and Ellie’s friendship, and we can’t wait to see that in the series.

Authentic locations

Gamers who played The Last of Us know what kind of world the game is set in. Joel and Ellie are traveling across half the country and the cities that they’ve visited look like abandoned ghost towns (mostly). In other words, it looks like the world typical for the post-apocalyptic genre. The trailer gave us a few shots that will give a true vibe to the fans of the game, considering that locations look like they were copy-pasted straight from the in-game world.

The series was filmed in Alberta, Canada, and it is said to be the largest television production in Canadian history. From what we could see, the production designers really gave their best to give the viewers a true The Last of Us experience, and the big budget is seeable from every shot. The Last of Us video game is also known for its amazing pace and changing scenery, so be sure that in this series you will see everything, from abandoned cities during the spring to snow forests during the winter.

Ellie’s infection (and immunity)

Joel and Ellie meet when a character named Marlene (played in the series by Merle Dandridge) will give Joel and his smuggler partner Tess (Anna Torv) a task to take Ellie to the hiding of the Fireflies in the Massachusetts State House. While Marlene didn’t tell Joel and Tess everything, soon they realize that Ellie is infected, but with one catch.

It takes two days after the infection to transform, but Ellie had her wound for three weeks and nothing happened to her. Just like in the video game, Ellie still has the bite mark on her forearm, but the wound didn’t spread any further after she was bitten. If it wasn’t for that Ellie’s wound, this whole story never would’ve happened.

The Infected aren’t the only problem for Joel and Ellie

Players who played the original video game know that the Infected aren’t the only problem for our heroes. While they are the primary antagonists, Joel and Ellie usually have to deal with the Infected indoors, but that doesn’t mean that the streets are empty and safe. In the game, Joel and Ellie have encountered many armed bandits and separatists that haven’t been infected, but they’re basically using the situation to do whatever they want.

Unlike the infected, these enemies can be found both indoors and outdoors. And while the Infected will only run at you to attack (in large groups if they can), bandits are armed with weapons, from cold weapons to various firearms. The Last of Us game is mainly based on stealth and figuring out how to pass through the enemies (either by killing or avoiding them). The catch is that Joel is usually always short on ammo and supplies so he needs to think a lot about how to adjust to the situation.

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Usually, it’s up to the player to figure everything out, but now we can just sit down and see how on-screen Joel and Ellie will get out of dozen sticky situations in which we have been numerous times while playing the game.

Supporting characters from the game

Joel and Ellie are the main characters, but The Last of Us canon also has plenty of supporting characters who these two encounter on their mission. Some of them are friendly, and some are not so much. We have already mentioned Marlene and Tess, but the trailer also gave us a quick glimpse at Bill, Henry, Sam, and other characters. We just need to mention a quick scene of Henry hugging his brother Sam.

We won’t spoil anything if you haven’t played the game, but if the series plays its role the same way the game did, expect a lot of emotions. We can also expect all the other characters that fans have met in the game; Tommy, Sarah, Riley, etc.

Actors from the game will appear in the series (in different roles)

HBO assembled a large group of actors, but there will be some actors who were already a part of the video game. Make no mistake, they will not play the same characters, but the fans will surely be glad to see them in this adaptation. Blindspot star Ashley Johnson, who voiced and provided motion capture for Ellie in the video game appeared in the trailer for the adaptation and it looks like she will star as Anna, Ellie’s deceased mother. Anna never appeared in the video game, but she was mentioned.

This gives the idea that the adaptation will explore some parts of the story even further and show us something that we haven’t seen in the game before. Troy Baker, who played Joel in the game, will also star in the series, although his role remains undisclosed for now.

Here comes a bloater

We just need to say that HBO really knows how to end a trailer on a high note. In the last scene of the trailer, we got a first look at something only the fans of the game have seen before — a bloater. For those who don’t know, there are more stages of infection. The person who was recently infected first turns into a runner, after two weeks into a stalker, after one year into a clicker, and after several years into a bloater.

Bloaters are like big infected giants and we could say that fights against them are like those usual boss fights in video games where you need to die a couple of times before you realize the best way to beat them. They’re very dangerous and pretty hard to kill. As a fan of the game, I have to say it’s pretty relaxing to know that I’ll be able to see a bloater without thinking “oh great, what am I gonna do now?”

RELATED: HBO Reveals the First Teaser for ‘The Last of Us’ TV Series

The Last of Us is deemed one of the best video games of all time, and although video game adaptations usually fall short, this one looks really promising because the creator of the game is directly involved with the production of the series, and the fact that this is an HBO series really puts high hopes because we know how many amazing TV shows HBO delivered us in the past.

The trailer gave us many scenes that instantly reminded us of some known scenes from the game, and in that regard, if you haven’t played The Last of Us yet, now is the perfect time to experience it ahead of the series premiere on January 15, 2023.

  • A movie lover, a hardcore DC/Marvel fan, photo editor and a passionate gamer. Interested in absolutely everything that comes out of those four categories, regardless if it’s old-school classics or modern blockbusters.