Why Adapting “The Last of Us” Into a Movie Is a Bad Idea

Monday, July 28 by
 

I wish I could get excited about this one.

A big-screen adaptation of last year’s PlayStation 3 survival horror game “The Last of Us” is on its way, which should be exciting for fans of The Walking Dead, survival horror and anything George Romero ever touched or influenced.

I’ll bet a lot of die-hard fans of the game itself have a somewhat subdued sense of excitement, though, as concerns that no full-length feature film could properly capture the game’s story are valid. Full disclosure: “The Last of Us” was the last game I played on my PS3 before I sold the system and made room for the PlayStation 4. Between having a life, playing the game on “hard” difficulty and the Yellow Light of Death felling my aging system twice before I could finish it, I lived the story of Joel and Ellie for months, so I got pretty invested in the storyline.

Even if you blaze through the game quickly, it’ll still take you about 20 hours to give it an honest play-through, and if the movie hews faithfully to the game, we’re looking at a number of character development threads that can’t be captured well in a movie. The beauty of “The Last of Us” is its reliance on a slow-burn method of getting us acclimated to characters hours at a time, only to lose them in many cases. Since a film version would be two-and-a-half-hours or so on the long end, I can’t see how the movie wouldn’t come off as a hack job.

The only promising news I’ve read about the movie is the possibility that Game of Thrones ass-kicker Maisie Williams could get the role of Ellie, which means that Sony is at least taking casting seriously. But would the screenwriters have the balls to put Ellie in a somewhat ambiguous same-sex relationship, like the game’s “Left Behind” downloadable content did? Also, keeping the game’s excellent controversial ending intact would be nice, but would filmmakers shy away from it since it doesn’t fit into the tidy Hollywood aesthetic?

We’re all kinda going through zombie fatigue right now, much like the vampire fatigue that preceded it. If “The Last of Us” film winds up being just another zombie chase with little gleams of soul here and there, it’ll justifiably leave theaters just as soon as it gets there and wind up in Best Buy’s bargain bin. But it wouldn’t dilute the awesomeness of the game itself, as there have been a plethora of shitty movie adaptations of great video games that people still love.

Sure, it makes sense for Sony to turn “The Last of Us” into a film that would likely bring in a nice opening weekend haul from fans of the game alone. But I sure hope I’m wrong about the final product…lets just say my breath is not exactly bated.

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