HBO’s ‘The Last Of Us’ Review: You Can Relax, It’s Bloody Good
— Updated on 20 February 2023

HBO’s ‘The Last Of Us’ Review: You Can Relax, It’s Bloody Good

— Updated on 20 February 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

BH’s Spoiler-Free HBO: The Last Of Us Review

We are undeniably living in the golden age of prestige television, and anybody still unconvinced needn’t look any further than what we’re already prepared to call “the greatest video game adaptation ever.”

Let’s be clear: despite the Naughty Dog franchise’s popularity and universal critical acclaim, this was never going to be easy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Adaptations in general are a notoriously tricky beast. Video game adaptations? Fuggedaboudit. Just look at how they butchered everything from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starring Jake Gyllenhaal to the woefully-dreadful 2021 Mortal Kombat flick. Throw in the fact everyone’s exhausted from being fed zombie/COVID-19-adjacent media…

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Suffice it to say, HBO had its work cut out for itself. But if anyone had a shot at pulling this off, it’d be the premium content network that has become synonymous with prestige television since the days of The Sopranos; Naughty Dog co-president and The Last of Us mythology gatekeeper Neil Druckmann; and Hollywood veteran Craig Mazin, who has gone from penning Scary Movie and The Hangover sequels to creating an elite-calibre level miniseries like Chernobyl. And pull it off they have.

Against all odds, Mazin and Druckmann have crafted an experience that’s simultaneously faithful to the source material while also providing something new and exciting for those intimately familiar with the story. Bolstered by electric performances from leads Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, The Mandalorian) as Joel, Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Ellie, plus Australia’s own Anna Torv (Fringe) as Tess, it perfectly captures:

  • the frenetic chaos of a crumbling civilisation
  • the anxious-breathed claustrophobia of the video game’s stealth sequences
  • the emotional violence of Joel and Ellie’s journey
  • and the regular violence necessary to survive in an unforgiving world such as the one depicted

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Presented in a way that’s somehow even more cinematic than what is arguably one of the most cinematic PlayStation titles to date, you can practically see every dollar of the series’ much-publicised $100 million production budget onscreen.

The opening episode, a feature-length affair that runs for a masterfully-paced 90 minutes, is served with absolutely zero narrative fat. Economical from start to finish, not a single frame is wasted on anything that doesn’t contribute to The Last of Us series’ world-building efforts (read: richly textured with detail without forcing anything down your throat) or progress the overall plot. Having the discipline to refrain from the temptation of being artistically indulgent should certainly be applauded, considering a major audience was always guaranteed.

While it no longer boasts a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, we anticipate HBO’s The Last of Us will go down as the standout series of 2023.

HBO's The Last Of Us Review: You Can Relax... It's Bloody Good

HBO’s The Last of Us starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey arrives next week on January 15th (US) and January 16th (Australia) – catch it domestically via Foxtel, Foxtel GO, and of course, Binge.

HBO’s The Last Of Us Synopsis

20 years after modern civilisation has been destroyed by a zombie infection inspired by the real-life Cordyceps fungus, hardened survivor Joel is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the US and depend on each other for survival.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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