Ask anyone what the best game of 2013 was, and you’ll get 1-of-3 answers: Grand Theft Auto V, BioShock: Infinite, or The Last of Us. Now, thanks to the production company Screen Gems and Sam Raimi (who will co-produce), one of those great games is making its way to the silver screen.
Among those three games–as well as every game of 2013–I personally count The Last of Us as the absolute best. Not only does it bring a novel experience to traversing a fictional zombie apocalypse, but it tells one of the most compelling stories in video game history. It’s not just in the writing, which is a great story of a man reluctantly escorting a girl across the country and deals with heavy themes of sacrifice and perseverance; it’s not just in the acting, either, which is led by the always awesome Troy Baker (who also led BioShock: Infinite), as the man, and Ashley Johnson, as the girl; but it’s also in the phenomenal art direction and character animation. The Last of Us has probably the best character acting ever put in a game, to date; that’s owed greatly to the animators at Naughty Dog,
But we all know the game is fantastic, but does it really need to be a movie? Some may even argue the game is the culmination of a steady momentum that has been building in the video game industry for decades: it is a movie in and of itself. Playing through The Last of Us will deliver more pathos and exhilaration than you’ll ever get from most films, and that’s largely where the video game industry is now. The developers have always had the ability to create believable and enjoyable stories, but now they’ve finally been given the technology and hardware to deliver what are essentially playable movie environments. This new paradigm makes it both easier and more difficult to adapt games to film. It’s easier because all you really have to do is replicate what the game has already given you; it’s more difficult because replicating something that’s already been done so well is, itself, very difficult.
With that said, Screen Gems has actually given us the longest-running video game film series–even if some might argue against its quality–in the Resident Evil franchise, so I’m not yet ready to write off the idea of them bringing The Last of Us to the screen. In the end, it’s less of an adaptation and more of a remake; in that sense, I’ll take it… but it better be good. The film I have in my head is basically Children of Men with “zombies”, so that’s the framework they need to start with.
As mentioned, Sam Raimi, known for his Spider-Man and Evil Dead films, will serve as one of the film’s many producers. That’s all well and good, but what makes me believe the film has the potential to live up to the game is its screenwriter: Neil Druckmann; he was also the creative director on the game, so he’s already got a fan in me. Druckmann is also a producer, along with his co-director on the game Bruce Straley, Ghost House Pictures, Naughty Dog Co-Presidents’ Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, and Raimi.
In a statement, Wells said:
Our partnership with Sam Raimi, Ghost House Pictures, and Screen Gems to develop a film based on The Last of Us universe is a perfect fit. Since our game released last June, we’ve talked with many companies about making a film, but we couldn’t have found better partners who share our creative vision and high standards. We look forward to collaborating with Sam, his team, and Screen Gems, to make a movie that will thrill fans of The Last of Us and general audiences worldwide.
Overall, this news actually makes me very excited… and quite nervous.