3 Reasons Why The Last of Us: The Movie is Destined to Fail

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The Last of Us is one of the most fiercely beloved video games of the past few years, and there’s a belief among fans that this is the game which will finally crack the code of being translated into a great movie. While it isn’t actually the biggest franchise out there, it does seemingly have some distinct advantages over larger ones. Unlike Grand Theft Auto, it is focused on a single story thread, unlike Call of Duty, it features characters you care deeply about throughout their journeys, and unlike Metal Gear Solid, it has a coherent story.

Common wisdom seems to be that The Last of Us is the great white hope for movies adapted from video games; that its combination of top-tier performances, mature subject matter, and cinema-influenced visual style will be the magic formula that transcends the niche appeal of video games to film audiences. Here are a few reasons, however, why it’s not likely to be the one that pulls it off.

The Last of Us is Already Pretty Much a Movie As it Is

The Last of Us

Adapting something to film is in many ways the same thing as remaking an old movie. In the case of remakes, the general approach is to only deal with material that has issues in its previous form. There’s no point in remaking something that was great to begin with; that’s why Psycho was a terrible remake and why the Ocean’s Eleven one was fantastic. With adapting a game to a movie, there’s a similar challenge in that a new type of media should add something to the core experience. If it’s not adding anything, then what’s the point of even bothering? While The Last of Us is a terrific game that tells a moving story, what can a movie adaptation of it REALLY offer that the game already hasn’t?

As a counterpoint, Duncan Jones’s Warcraft movie is actually in a much better position to be successful precisely because it doesn’t have such a narrative to live up to. Its universe is so massive and far-reaching that he’s basically free to tell whatever story he wants so long as it adheres to the boundaries of the fiction. With The Last of Us, its creators will quickly find themselves being pushed into a corner where they will need to choose between one option or the other: Retell the game’s story, which is redundant, or tell a unique story within that universe, which nobody will care about.

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(Senior Writer)

Born in 1844, I bring a lot of gaming experience to the table. In my day-job, I work for a public library which carries, amongst other formats, video games. I'm very interested in observing and documenting the growing pains this industry is experiencing as it is dragged kicking and screaming towards something resembling maturity. Join me!

  • jacksjus

    Reason 1 is basically the only reason. A close second is that the story itself isn’t original enough for the silver screen. TLOU is basically a videogame version of “The Road” minus the infected.

  • Kamille

    I don’t think the author understands what makes a movie a movie and a game a game.

  • Shawn

    what do you expect the game was a hugh success and sony needs the money bad so why not milk something successful dam shame too they need to leave tlou alone as a single title and not ruin the game it is a masterpiece and sam raimi will ruin this just like spider man…

    • MythrilMonkey

      Sam Raimi hated what happened with spiderman because the studio had control. This is different considering Sam Raimi is the one who convinced them to keep the original ending.

  • Matt Ng

    In regards to Reason 1 “The Last of Us is Already Pretty Much a Movie As it
    Is”, yes you can say the game is basically the movie, and you take out those cut scenes you really just have a basic 3rd person shooter but isn’t that what makes the Last of Us whatit is? That sense of urgency when you are surrounded by a bunch of clickers, the interactions between Joel and Ellie, the player has the choice to make those. I could listen to Ellie tell me 5 minutes of bad puns or I can run off and explore this abandoned hotel. With the movie you are taking away that interaction between the player and character in the game.

    With Reason 2, I don’t necessarily think fans are going to revolt when things are changed or cut. This isn’t Paul W. S. Anderson penning this movie, the creative director of the game is penning this movie. He knows these characters inside and out, in the making of The Last of Us documentary there is a segment where Troy Baker is trying to put his own spin on a scene and it just wasn’t working. I believe they did the take all day, finally Druckmann pulls Baker aside and says just try the scene like this. Baker didn’t think it would work, in the end that’s the take that ends up in the game for the final scene between Joel and Sarah. Knowing Druckmann is behind this movie gives me hope there will be some gleaming light to it. Are there going to be things missing from the movie that were in the game? You can bet on it, but you can say that for every book to film adaptation that has ever existed.

    Finally with Reason 3, I can see where you are coming from saying only people who played the game will go see the movie. I can agree to a certain extent, do you think everyone who went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy this past weekend ever read the comics? With it making 96 million over the weekend I don’t think so.

    Personally, I’m still on the fence about the movie, I don’t think it necessary to make a movie out of this game, but that’s just the type of world we live in. I think it is very hasty to say it will fail this early on when we barely have any information on it.

  • ccnorris

    If David Fincher got his hands on it, it would be amazing. I think that’s about it. lol

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