When it comes to film adaptations of video games, Hollywood famously has a bad reputation at bringing those projects to life. While we’ve seen better efforts recently with the likes of Tomb Raider, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mortal Kombat, video game narratives seldom work in the confines of a typical movie.
A game that is driven by a strong story, like Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, perhaps stands a much better chance of being turned into a strong movie. Except only that is not happening, with The Last of Us instead getting adapted into an HBO series which will allow it to take more time exploring the game’s characters and rich world. This is something that the game’s writer/director/creator Neil Druckmann spoke about in a new interview on the Script Apart podcast:
When I worked on the movie version, a lot of the thinking and notes were like ‘how do we make it bigger? How do we make the set pieces bigger? I think that’s ultimately why the movie wasn’t made. Our approach for The Last of Us was ‘Let’s make it as an indie film. Let’s approach it as an indie film team, the way it’s shot, the way how small and intimate it feels. And with the show, we get to lean into that even more because we don’t have to have as many action sequences as we do in the game.
And to be fair, that is the best outcome for an adaptation of Last of US. Not only would a movie rush the narrative, but it would try and push for bigger action sequences, which will take away from the best parts of the game, which is the deep story and tense smaller moments, which the series will look to focus on and make this an adaption that lives up to the benchmark set by the original games.
I still think studios have a lot to learn about adapting video games into movies, but it’s good to see them getting better and even being willing to explore a series approach. There’s still no release date for The Last of Us on HBO Max currently, although that is perhaps a good thing as this story deserves to be done right.
Last Updated: May 6, 2021