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08-04-23 | It’s been a month since the finale of The Last of Us, the latest television hit from HBO. Let’s look back at how the show was received by critics. The Last of Us is based on the wildly successful videogame of the same name. Set in an apocalyptic zombified America, it tells the story of Joel Miller’s mission to transport a young girl across the country. The girl, Ellie, is immune to the infectant causing the zombie plague. She may be the key to creating an antidote.

The response to The Last of Us has been overwhelmingly positive. The Last of Us is an excellent adaptation, bolstered by stunning performances from a great cast … ’ said Graeme Guttman of Screen Rant. He felt that ‘ … the nine episodes allow the story to be told to its full extent.’ Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian added that ‘ … while its zombie skeleton brings immediate comparisons to The Walking Dead, its beating heart is more in line with last year’s Station Eleven, with which it shares a surprisingly steady and meditative pace.’ The series currently holds a 96% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Unsurprisingly, many critics praised Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey for their portrayal of Joel and Ellie. ‘The star of The Mandalorian portrays Joel as a flawed hero without melodrama, never leaning on some of the crutches other actors would have used … ’ stated Brian Tallerico of ‘It’s a nuanced turn that balances trauma, cynicism, and the character’s emerging hope in a way that always feels true.’ Screen Rant’s Guttman agreed. ‘Watching Joel and Ellie go from transactional road trip companions to the father-daughter dynamic that propels the latter half of the season to its violent end could only work as well as it does with two performers as capable as Pascal and Ramsey.’

Reading such glowing reviews one would almost expect The Last of Us to be flawless, but Pat Brown of Slant Magazine begs to differ, referring to the series as ‘ … a Spielbergian parable about familial crisis amid apocalyptic disaster […] that lacks Spielberg’s ability to make suspense, wonder, and sentiment truly feed into each other.’ A fair comment in today’s world of squeaky clean horror films and series. Tallerico of wasn’t entirely positive either: ‘ … I wanted a little more building, and the show rushes the final two episodes in a way that made me wonder if that’s where most of the compression happened when it lost a chapter from the initial ten episodes.’

Overall, though, The Last of Us was a hit with both critics and the general audience. And that in and of itself is a rare thing for films and series based on videogame properties. Though admittedly the source material had a very strong narrative to begin with. Jake Su of Geek Culture observed that ‘… the pacing is more than brisk to keep the viewer engaged and invested, with action-heavy episodes delivered in equal measure to more character-focused ones that contain multitudes of emotional storytelling.’ Either way, it’s safe to consider The Last of Us a success. A solid show deserving of a second season.

Read the full reviews here:
Graeme Guttman at Screen Rant
Rebecca Nicholson at The Guardian
Brian Tallerico at
Pat Brown at Slant Magazine
Jake Su of Geek Culture