By Jamaal Ryan
Last week, The Last of Us movie was announced, said to be penned by Neil Druckmann and produced by Sam Rami’s Ghost House Pictures. I expressed my conflicted reaction to the announcement, stating that while hearing that the creative director of the original game wearing a similar hat for the film is the best news anyone can hear about a video game adaptation in a film, its significance could be diminished because The Last of Us is a memorable game, maybe not so easily a memorable movie.
But hearing today that The Last of Us film will stick to the plot of the game concerns me even more.
For fans of the game such as myself, it’ll be tough to keep images of the game from clashing with the movie itself. Joel likely won’t sound or look the same, neither would Ellie, Tess, Henry, or Sam. Unlike books, and even in some cases with comic books, visualizing the roles is mostly, if not completely, left to the imagination of the viewer. In The Last of Us, we know exactly what they look like.
It also removes much of the potential tension the movie could withhold. Personally, following Joel and Ellie’s story again is a missed opportunity as not only The Last of Us builds a world that can easily tell so many different stories, but we’ve read and heard much of these stories ourselves. Before Left Behind’s reveal, many assumed that the story DLC would follow Ish and his struggle for survival, or the Henry and Sam pair before they met up with Joel and Ellie. It would have been nice to at least see a story that we haven’t seen before.
Optimistically however, that doesn’t mean that the film won’t expand on some of the breadcrumbs. The movie adaptation can be inclusive in allowing us to see some of the very stories that we missed, perhaps give us a look into American Dreams, exactly why Marlene was looking after Ellie, or even move beyond the ending to the game itself. There are still many ideas, but I can’t get away from how they’ll be anchored to the context of a story that was already told.
Neil and his team are clearly thinking carefully about this, "As far as where we go and how we make it fit into a film, how it takes into account the unique properties of film... We’re not sure yet. We’re only just scratching the surface."
We won’t know what he means for this for quite some time, maybe not even this year; but I just hope that this doesn’t turn out to be the same movie that I saw watching all of The Last of Us’ cutscenes back to back.