Last of Us Movie – How to make a great game into a great film

By | March 10, 2014

Movies adapted from games are usually nothing more than marketing exercises – in other words, they’re terrible.  Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Doom come to mind.  I’m sure a longer list is a Google search away.  There are some exceptions, though.  Resident Evil, for instance, was a pleasant surprise, and the studio responsible for the franchise, Screen Gems, will take Last of Us to the big screen.  The movie of last year’s award-winning PS3 game will also have Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, The Grudge) as a producer.

And no doubt it’ll be 3D, so what will make Last of Us worth the $15 in admission?  Here are some don’ts and dos.

1) DON’T: Use the same plot.  I love the game, but because it’s a game.  The story’s escort/road-trip/apocalyptic thread is derivative of at least a dozen movies.  The movie without the gameplay will be like a book adaption without the depth.  Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” was great, the movie wasn’t.

DO: Keep one of the clichés but not all.  The road-trip journey plot will work.  It’s simple and allows for an epic Heart-of-Darkness adventure.  But do away with the scarred mercenary and the save-all-humanity girl with whom he forms a bond and ultimately redeems him.  Instead, let the MacGuffin be mundane.  No higher purpose, at least on the onset.  Perhaps all he wants is a chocolate bar or an old scratched-up DVD movie.  In a world gone to hell, what good is money?  What good is anything but a little bit of pleasure?  And then let the layers pile on from there.

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2) DON’T: Cast Ellen Page as Ellie.  She’s got another game.

DO: Cast Mailie Williams.  Ellie needs to be a little tough, a little tomboy.

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3) DON’T: Show national landmarks overgrown with ivy (unless it’s Wrigley Field).

DO: Show lots and lots of non-landmarks covered with ivy, and collapsing, and rusting.

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4) DON’T: Spare the bullets.

DO: It’s okay for the film to ponder the meaning of humanity, but I need to see the infected get wasted en masse.

5) DON’T: Let the same artists who created the mutants in I Am Legend create the infected.

DO: Hire Peter Jackson’s crew instead.

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