The zombie movie genre has come storming back in recent years. From CGI heavy, set piece action/horror flicks like the Resident Evil series to more subdued, maybe realistic – if that word can be used for zombie movies – tellings of an apocalyptic event.
Actors the likes of Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Woody Harrelson have found themselves on the run from the living dead. Now, a story that has been told in one medium, is being retold for the silver screen. It’s not the ever-popular book to movie transformation, this is the terrifying video game to movie adaptation.
Minor Spoilers Ahead: If you’re interested in The Last Of Us movie but haven’t yet played the game, you likely belong to a very small subset of people that surprises me. Alas, you’ve been warned.
I recently watched World War Z for the first time; a solid, though unspectacular foray into zombie storytelling. What separates TLOU from movies like World War Z? The focus.
Modern day movie making has resulted in a lot of summer blockbusters with great big budgets, one or two major actors, and intense chase/fight/death scenes. Transformers gone wild if you will. That is precisely what TLOU is not.
The biggest thing that TLOU focuses on and that will separate it from the pack is its focus on the relationship between the main characters, Ellie and Joel. While every modern movie makes sure to include a love or friendship story in the background, the best movies put those at the forefront, making the action the ever-present but secondary issue.
The growing affection between an older man that lost a daughter during the outbreak and a teenage girl that has never known life without “infected” becomes the central point of the movie. A zombie post-apocalyptic world is the secondary arch of the experience.
Traveling across a country with limited resources and next to zero infrastructure sets the stage for a story about two mistrusting people that eventually need each other to survive, both physically and emotionally. The building of that father-daughter style relationship features classic pitfalls and build up but constantly pulls at hearts of the audience in a mature and thoughtful way. The difficult part will be adapting a 15-ish hour story into a two hour movie.
TLOU screenwriter Neil Druckmann has confirmed that despite the movie being a direct adaptation, the story will likely be much different than the book because of time constraints. It is a better decision to change the story in certain parts than to try to cut and retain the exact elements of the game.
Once the story is established and a director is found, casting information will start to hit the web. Some rumors have surfaced, with Game of Thrones’ young star Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) in talks to play one of the co-star roles of Ellie.
I love this casting choice because of Williams’ ability to act in adult based content with serious and light tones to her performance. She isn’t a carbon copy – based on looks – of Ellie, but despite the desire for fans of the game to see similar faces in the roles they have become so familiar with, these casting decisions should be based on acting ability and fit within the script, not their facial features.
Joel, Tommy and David have all been given speculative casting rumors, based solely on looks as the images below illustrate so well. While some of these actors may do a decent job in these roles were they to be selected, I hope that the eventual director will not be choosing his actors soley based on how they compare to the digital counterparts.
Movies adapted from video games have generally had a very poor run of quality. However, with a story like the one in TLOU and the serious tones and dark setting, this has a chance to break the mold of video game adaptations.
With games like Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, and Splinter Cell supposedly on the movie docket, we are going to be seeing a rush of video game based movies, for better or worse. Watch out for The Last Of Us to set the benchmark for all of them.