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The drama version of “The Last of Us” solves a major “rollover point” in game adaptation



This article comes from the WeChat public account:Touch music (ID: chuappgame)Author: Zhu Siqi

When the game itself has the advantage of substitution in action, it may be the best choice for the adapted film and television drama to work hard on literature and drama.

On January 15th, the highly anticipated action-adventure game “The Last of Us” adaptation of the same name was officially launched on the HBO streaming media platform and TV stations in the United States. The show was prepared by HBO and directed by Craig Mazin, who directed the word-of-mouth drama “Chernobyl” in 2019. Neil Druckmann, the creator and screenwriter of the game, also participated in the script creation and selection of actors. The entire season of “The Last of Us” is 9 episodes, and the plot basically continues the framework of the first generation of the series, telling the story of Joel escorting the girl Ellie, whom he met by chance, across the post-apocalyptic America. As of today (February 6), the TV series has aired 4 episodes and scored high on rating sites such as IMDb and Douban.

I am both a gamer and a movie buff. But whenever a game announces that it will be adapted for film and television, I will suddenly become vigilant. This is all thanks to some of the more painful viewing experiences. For example, if you don’t mention the protagonist’s name, it’s like “Uncharted”, which is like a passer-by’s story, and the inexplicable “Assassin’s Creed”, which can’t even save Michael Fassbender’s appearance, and the gradual decline in word-of-mouth from the first to the seventh. To the failing “Resident Evil” series.

What makes me most dissatisfied with this kind of film is that it falls into the vicious circle of empty industrialization and big production. Those film and television adaptations with good reputation in the early years are also commercial films, such as the old version of the “Tomb Raider” series, the first few “Resident Evil” series, and even the “Silent Hill” series. There are also problems, but they were placed in the environment at the time How much can give people a refreshing feeling. Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich not only have great personal charm, advanced special effects sets and exciting action scenes can also make the audience hooked.

The stunningness of some works can also be attributed to the era

Today, when the Hollywood film and television industry is extremely developed, the original visual spectacle has become commonplace, and it can even be said to have become the standard and passing line of theatrical films. The game industry is not to be outdone. The promotional videos and broadcast CGs of many major manufacturers have made people call “this may be a film company that was delayed by games”. However, there are still some difficulties in adapting the game into a movie. The scripts of many games are not so innovative in the first place, just to connect the exciting parkour or battle, after all, it is a very standard adventure story. Players have fun, essentially because they can operate, choose, and experience. When watching a movie, you can only sit in a chair and watch others fight and kill, but the story is very mediocre, so you will naturally find it difficult to accept.

Magical changes to characters and settings are also commonplace. In fact, there are some well-known games, the original story framework is very good, and it is good to be faithful to the original when adapting, but the main creators of the film are unbelievers, and make random changes, which makes the players and the general audience dissatisfied, and you can’t even understand the production of the film. Fang wants to please what kind of moviegoers.

On the day when the movie version of “Assassin’s Creed” was released, I sat in the theater and watched the actors flying up and down in the buildings filled with yellow sand, picking up all kinds of easter egg-like unrealistic weapons and fighting enemies, just wanting to I shouted in my heart: “Why don’t you give me a handle!”

So, for “The Last of Us”, the last thing I want to see is that it is made into a zombie movie on the street, focusing on gun battles and escapes that must be particularly tedious and boring.

Fortunately, HBO did not choose to shoot that way. From episode 1 to episode 3, in addition to the scenes praised by the players and the restoration of makeup, the episode really understands what a player who lost the controller wants to see from the episode. The creators compressed quite a lot of action scenes and deleted most of the exploration process, but on the basis of almost restoring the key plots of the game frame by frame, they supplemented and presented a lot of shaping content that can only be seen from the perspective of outside the play.

The restoration of the TV series to the game scene is really amazing

I really like the original sequence in episode 1 where Joel’s daughter Sarah goes to town to fix her watch after school and then visits the old lady next door. That kind of shooting is the very classic “calm before the storm” in thrillers-something has started to go wrong, but the protagonist continues to live an ordinary life without knowing it, and he just keeps his eyes open to miss the key details of the mutations . The audience, who are outside the screen and have no way to interfere with the actions of the characters, can only be anxious, sweating palms from nervousness.

In the game, this tension is delivered by having the player directly control Sarah. We were little girls left alone at home, listening to the sirens and dogs outside, watching the bombings on the news, and falling into panic. The TV series also copied this paragraph, but if there is only this paragraph, because of the lack of sense of operation, the effects of panic and horror will not be so sufficient.

This scene where the old lady spasms is probably one of the scariest scenes in episode 1

Episode 3, the most widely adapted, is completely out of the perspective of the protagonist, and tells the life stories of Bill and Frank, passers-by NPCs who were originally in the game. Apart from making up part of the world view, this seemingly dispensable story has actually summed up the atmosphere impression that the whole game left on me at such an early time——Desolate, but lush and beautiful, just like the whole game The wasteland art style covered by green plants in this work. After all, “The Last of Us” literally translates to “the last of us”, so we must tell more stories about people.

I feel like the story of episode 3 essentially wants to convey the dignity of people living in the end times.It is love, aesthetic and social connections that have never been given up, and even the choice of death, that enable people to still be human.

The onlooker’s perspective provided by the drama version also made me realize that I had never carefully examined Joel until I cleared the level. Because it is Joel who is operating in the game, my eyes are mostly on Ellie through his eyes, and I rarely pay attention to him himself. My feelings for Ellie are a growing “this is my daughter” feeling. The perspective of the TV series gave me more opportunities to watch Joel, and at the same time examine the relationship between the “father and daughter” from the outside.

Perhaps because of the elimination of distracting factors such as fighting, I realized more clearly in the drama version that the narrative of the first 3 episodes is actually gradually completing the deprivation of Joel, depriving him of his daughter, partner and friends , so that the relationship with Ellie has the opportunity to develop later. These 3 deprivations correspond to the earliest trauma (bereavement), the reason for departure (immunity) and the determination to persevere (protection). There is a strict comparison with the journey of him and Ellie, and the level is higher than that of busy boards in the game. It is easy to sort out the bricks and mushrooms. The careful arrangement of this rhythm by the TV series provides a rather delicate and coherent emotional experience, allowing the audience to successfully complete the transformation from “player” to “viewer”, that is, from substitution to empathy.

Therefore, I think the reason why many previous game adaptations “overturned” is precisely because the players lost the means of substitution, but they also failed to establish an empathetic connection. I’m not against making game-adapted movies into action movies, but I’m saying that when the game itself has the advantage of substitution in action, the adapted film and television dramas pay more attention to the quality of literary dramas or the narrative efficiency in action scenes, which will make players feel better in the game. The look and feel on and off the screen is more comfortable.

In the first 3 episodes, there are very few scenes where Joel and Ellie look harmonious together, and their relationship is far from intimate

“People like us are destined to protect something, and the bastards who stand in front of us will be in trouble.”

Being able to adjust to this point in narrative, coupled with HBO’s production level above the industry average, the drama version of “The Last of Us” has become my favorite game adaptation.

Because of the good broadcast response, HBO soon announced the renewal of the second season of “The Last of Us”, confirming that it will cover the plot of “The Last of Us: Part II”. Sure enough, “stalks” appeared again in the comment area under the relevant news. Nearly 3 years after its release, it is still difficult to find a peaceful discussion environment for this work.

Although I also failed to complete the second part, the reason why I “abandoned the pit” at the beginning was mainly its operation arrangement, not the plot. In my eyes, the role of the narrative method is sometimes greater than the story itself, especially when I have to participate in it through operation.

In the game, the producer hoped that I could control Abby at some point and put her perspective to understand the situation she was facing, which was not a problem at all. But the actual playing experience is that whenever I, as Ellie, am angry because of Abby’s behavior, I will be forced to switch to the link of operating Abby, as if the producer is pressing my head to preach.

In the case that the player naturally has more affection for Ellie, the producer should have used a more clever method to guide us to empathize with another heroine

The effect of this design is completely different from the original intention of the producer, and it is also the reason why it is difficult for me to invest and finally give up. Therefore, I expressed a point of view in the melee of public opinion at the time: If “The Last of Us: Part 2” was a TV series rather than a game, my evaluation of it might be much higher. Because the sense of substitution in TV series is weaker, the audience is more naturally in the perspective of God, and will not be particularly seriously affected by their own emotions in the plot. Sitting on the sidelines, the mood will be smoother when switching between the two heroines. It would be even better if some of the less brilliant characterizations, especially Abby’s father, could be optimized.

At least this is my expectation for the follow-up of the TV series “The Last of Us”. This expectation may not necessarily come true, but the current situation of TV dramas makes me a little more confident about it. I know that this series is still full of controversy, and probably will always be controversial. But it’s ultimately a work worth watching. How it will be interpreted and presented in the future, I will trust HBO for the time being.

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