Monday’s Movie Musings: The Last Of Us and other video game to film adaptations…

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Gaming has never really been my kind of thing. Over the years my gaming experiences have been limited to series’ like Metal Gear Solid, Assassin’s Creed (which we’ll come to later) and the Batman/Arkham games. More recently, on the recommendation of a good friend, I sought out The Last Of Us; a multi-award winning game with a lot of critical praise behind it and a cinematic sounding premise.

Set in a future where the majority of the world’s population has been wiped out by a fungal infection that turns people into cannibalistic monsters, the story focuses on Joel and Ellie. A smuggler working in one of the quarantined zones, Joel is offered payment of a stolen weapon cache in return for smuggling young Ellie out of the city and returning her to a rebel group called the Fireflies.

The Fireflies want Ellie because she has been recently been bitten by one of the infected, known as clickers, and has thus far remained human. With the key to humanity’s survival possibly within her blood, Joel begrudgingly agrees to deliver her where she needs to go and what follows is a cross country road trip of self discovery.

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Recently re-mastered for the Playstation 4 and awarded over 200 game of the year awards since its release, The Last Of Us truly is as absorbing, moving and exciting as most films I see on a weekly basis. Certainly the best gaming experience I’ve ever had, its emphasis on story and the relationship between the two lead characters are what separates it from the norm.

With this in mind, it came as no surprise to me when a film version was announced to be in the works at the beginning of the year. A tough nut to crack however, the video game-to-film adaptation has seldom worked well, with previous big screen versions of Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Super Mario Bros. and Tomb Raider ending up being critical and commercial flops.

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As far as The Last Of Us is concerned, I have faith that the adaptation will work and that it could very well turn the tide for this difficult sub-genre. With Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi overseeing production, and the game’s director due to write the film’s screenplay, these are sure signs that development is on track.

The rich story and character development are already present within the game, so surely it should be an easy task to cinematically translate it. Providing they get the same balance between tension and emotion, we will be in for something special. In terms of casting the two leads, rumours have linked Game Of Thrones actress Maisie Williams as Ellie and Josh Brolin as Joel, who absolutely must play that character (although my girlfriend is determined that Hugh Jackman should get the part).

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One adaptation I am skeptical of however is the upcoming Assassins Creed film. Despite having the excellent Michael Fassbender as the lead role, the production has already been delayed and according to some is stuck in development hell.

With a much larger story to tell and a strange blend of sci-fi and historical action, a much more difficult process of game-to-film will need to take place compared to The Last Of Us. I’m sure the recent delays don’t mean game over for the film, but I’m not sure whether to take it as a good sign or a bad one.

One thing is for sure; a successful film version of a video game is a true rarity. However, as the lines between the two become increasingly blurred this may soon change, and The Last Of Us could be the first in a long line of visceral and fun cinematic adaptations. Let’s certainly hope so.

Next Week: Could a film version of 24 really work?

Image credits to http://www.thelastofus.wikia.com and http://www.impawards.com

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