Showing posts with label Last of Us. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Last of Us. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Ranting at the end of the world: The Last Of Us Episode 9 (Show + Podcast)

Episode 9: Giraffes!

 Spoilers... duh.

 The dude did not cover baby Ellie's ears up.

 The hint that the timing and circumstances of Ellie's birth is why she is immune is as dumb of a solution as that vampire movie where they found the cure to being a vampire by the dude flying through his windshield and being burned by the sun and that specific duration of sun exposure is a vampire cure.

 Giraffes.  Because apparently people are hungry enough to eat each other but not hungry enough to eat giraffes that apparently have no fear of humans.

 Joel in earlier episodes: losing hearing, "losing my edge", gets easily flanked.  Joel in episode 9: terminator.

 The doctor's and nurses didn't hear WWIII breaking out in the hospital?  Ellie clearly wasn't that important if no one was left to guard her.  Good try by the doctor though; he almost had Joel there.

 Excellent! Another functional vehicle for Joel to escape in.

 Ellie might be developing trust issues.

 I don't think Joel is the good guy.

 The podcast did nothing to help

 Oh so now we want to go back to Tommy's place and be safe?  Should make for another season of "Finding Tommy".


Monday, March 06, 2023

Ranting at the end of the world: The Last Of Us Episode 8 (Show)

Episode 8: Apocalyptic Bingo!

 Spoilers... duh.

 I don't need the podcast to break down this one.  Congratulations to everyone that had cannibalism on your apocalyptic bingo cards!  Game players knew we would get here but it was a shocking awakening for TV-only viewers.  Episode 8 was an uncomfortable episode to watch, but don't worry Joel is back so we're good.

 I will have to admit that the show got the pacing and tension-building right in this episode (a top critique of mine for past episodes).  This episode had a solid reveal going from a "something's not right here" to "oh sh!t!" in a slow, dreadful series of events.  It is unfortunate it had to feature a miraculous recovery by Joel that required viewers to suspend disbelief yet again in a show that does nothing but expect viewers to suspend disbelief.

 Also I am not sure if this is what the show was going for, but in an episode starting out with bible reading isn't it cliche our savior Joel rises from the dead.  Anyone that thought Joel was ever in any danger (or Ellie for that matter) has never played a video game with side quests.

 I do want to harp on the "sense of danger".  As uncomfortable as this episode was to watch it was more from the creep factor than it was from any sense that something bad would happen to our main characters Joel and Ellie.  Like a video game its just a case of finishing the side quest to get on with the main story.

 Can we dispense with the cannibalism as well please? It is uncomfortable to watch and detracted from an otherwise great tension builder of the creepy preacher targeting a young girl.  We could have gotten all of the drama of this episode without taking the cannibalism.

 Anyways, Joel is back to a full healthbar so on to new adventures.

Friday, March 03, 2023

Ranting at the end of the world: The Last Of Us Episode 7 (Show + Podcast)

Last of us? Or the last of flashbacks!?

 Spoilers... duh.

 Flashback episode! You know; because the show was over when we found Tommy last episode so we needed something to make more episodes out of.

 One of my main issues with the show is the representation of the world "20 years later" and this episode did nothing to quiet the screaming in my head.  These folks are awfully lucky that everything just keeps on working 20 years later.  Just throw the switch and every light, arcade cabinet, and whatever buzzes to life.  There is no chance over the 20 something years since the world collapsed that any of the items in a mall would have been scavenged.

 One major issue I have with the show is its lack of ability to build tension. Although I will admit that the mall was a pretty cool setting, we knew something related to the infected would happen since the show is too formulaic to let the infected not ruin the moment. However, the show fails to put the pieces together in any sort of dramatic way.

 Similar to Episode 5, the big showdown at the end of the episode gets minimal setup, and when a single infected interrupts, it feels like nothing more than a reason to ruin the moment. In the game, as I gathered from the podcast for this episode, there are multiple fighting sequences in the mall. These fighting scenes give weight between "scenes" and help build tension.

 In the show we get a quick cut of an infected coming to life (which is baffling; in prior episode these static mushroomed infected are NOT a concern at all) and a couple doom-y camera pans, but otherwise there is not much more going on here than a trip to the mall until a rustling is heard.

 In the show the more the infected show up the more it makes me as a viewer laugh at "what the heck is this infection?  People are really scared of this?".  Again, these mushroom sprouted dead bodies were of no concern just a couple episodes ago but now are coming back to life.  How hard was it to just have an infected stuck in a closet that they opened?  Give us a jump scare after making us feel safe all episode.  We didn't need a poorly "whats that noise" character moment when we knew what the noise was.

 What about Joel?  Sorry, almost forgot we left the last episode on a cliff hanger in the present timeline.  Glad the episode sorted that out and that he will be OK after a gnarly stitch job by Ellie.  I am sure Joel will be back to normal next week. This game, err show, really does love the cliche "video game solutions" whether a flashback scene or a magical cure all solution scavenged nearby.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Ranting at the end of the world: The Last Of Us Episode 6 (Show + Podcast)

 And onto Episode 6. The show is over folks.  We found Tommy.  Everyone can go home now.

 Oh but wait; the entire driving force for Joel wasn't apparently enough so onwards we go.  Suspense intensifies.  Hopefully the two well fed survivalists in the cabin stay well fed and safe (they were pretty funny as a couple).  Apparently in this post apocalyptic world food isn't an issue for anyone except when we needed Henry and Sam to have a reason to come out of hiding.

 Maybe this sort of plot works in the game where players dismiss the fact they have to keep on chugging along, but damn does it fall short in a TV show.  I could maybe buy Joel giving up the safety and comfort of Bill's place because of the driving force to find Tommy.  Yet Tommy doesn't seem to have meant much to Joel once he was found; some possible promise of the impossible with Ellie is a bigger attraction and reason to leave another safe and stable community?  If Joel ever does get his sheep farm I don't know how I'll react.

 See y'all next week.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Ranting at the end of the world: The Last Of Us Episode 5 (Show + Podcast)

 I can't stop watching the The Last of Us show on HBO Max or listening to the companion podcast after each episode.  I also can't turn my brain off long enough to just enjoy the show.  I need to rant.  Need. To. Rant. 

 Episode 5 was a trainwreck in pacing and the writers missed a great opportunity to explain the world and how it collapsed so quickly after the fungi-demic.

 Reminder: I have never played the games. 

 Spoilers... duh.

 First I am going to rant about pacing.  The pacing of this episode was not great.  A slow roll into a chaotic ending.  The swap between the two paces failed to build any tension.  Instead of getting an impending sense of doom building through the episode we go from safe and cozy to end of the world.  End of the world through a complete happenstance event of a truck crashing into a house in the exact spot to open a hole into an underground tunnel system... the same tunnel system that somehow the main characters exited well before this point even though clearly the tunnel system went exactly to the point where they needed to go!?

 What could have been done differently?  First off why is there ZERO build up about the rampaging horde?  Where are the clickers watching the characters from the sewer grates?  Where is more rippling ground like we saw in the previous episode?  It is so dumb that the entire scene hinges on a truck happening to crash into the right spot on a building to then open the ground to a swarming mass of infected.

 Also the entire sniper scene is anti-climatic.  The sniper takes shots at Joel as he makes his way in his direction so knows he is coming for him; yet acts totally surprised when he gets there?  Why not build some tension here?  They could have shown Joel making his way to the sniper, brought in the radio traffic to the sniper earlier, showed the militia making progress more, and hinted at the infected lurking just below the surface.  Instead it all just burps itself onto screen and makes for a complete "what?" turn of events.

 Next let me rant about this show's problem with character plot armor.  In the chaotic end fight scene we see human after human get obliterated by the infected; all except the main characters even though positioning and decision-making wise are in terrible positions.  Let's not even talk about the scene before then where the militia has the main characters surrounded and could easily walk around the car to face them, but instead bumble their way through the scene until the infected blob explodes out of the ground.  

 Of course even being surrounded by militia and with infected about to rampage over the area the main characters never feel like they are in danger.  Henry, who Kathleen so wanted to kill without question, somehow inexplicably remains standing while Kathleen decides it is better not to pull the trigger and instead turn around to watch a truck slowly sink into the ground.  Then Joel's expert sniper skill dropping running headshots like the bad ass he is, Ellie randomly finding an escape route, and the convenient "hide under this car" trick for Henry and Sam.  

 Combined with the lack of risk building up through the episode at no point was I worried about any characters other than the throw away Kansas City militia and you damn well knew they were going to suffer some gruesome deaths.  Bloater got him some head!

 Oh but that plot armor was only there momentarily so we could get a cliche ending.  Oops the kid got bit and clearly Joel's survival instincts are gone as no one thinks to check the kids to see if they were injured in the rampage.  They may have discovered Sam's leg is bleeding profusely and ruined our unexpected ending.  

 Then shocker.  Bang. Oh, bang two! Wow! Edgy television here folks!  How about this instead; Joel sees Sam getting dragged away and has to off him with the sniper rifle as a mercy?  That would of made way more sense and fit PERFECTLY with Kathleen's quote “Well kids die, Henry. They die all the time."

 Most egregious to me though was the missed opportunity with the underground community that was found.   In the podcast it is explained that in the game players can take their time reading notes left around that explains what happened further but said that wouldn't work in the show.  Maybe not reading notes, but this set was so cool and offered so many intriguing chances to explain what happened after infection day zero.

 For a show that goes out of its way to ham in the backstory it really, really, really, really freaking missed a great chance to spend the better part of an episode exploring this mini lost society.  It was the perfect backdrop for some flashbacks; way better than the other options used thus far.

 I want to know so much more about what happened in this underground society but instead all I got was a poorly executed anti-climatic and chaotic scene followed by an edgy mega downer of an ending.  This show is so good its bad.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Not Impressed with The Last of Us (TV)

last of us tv show hbo max

Not Impressed with The Last of Us (TV)

 I hate to admit it but I am not impressed with The Last of Us TV show.  I had high hopes after seeing the Rotten Tomatoes scores and acclaim the series was getting, but I was not impressed.  Here are some thoughts rants from someone that never played the games but did watch episodes 1-3 of the TV show.

Spoiler warning.

 First, I want to say that the show is well produced.  Visually it is stellar and there is a distinct sense of a post-apocalyptic world.  Actors, individually, are great.  I do enjoy watching the show.

 With that said my brain is really struggling to not scream out loud about this show.  

 The biggest issue I have is the lack of chemistry between characters.  Joel and Ellie really do not click and the story telling does not help.  The relationship is forced; almost to the point of being too forced.  Ellie dropping f bombs every two seconds just does not help and then having her read a letter and articulate mother f'rs when the character that wrote the letter at no point gives the vibe of dropping mother f'rs (but I get it; who doesn't love Nick Offerman dropping the "not today you new world mother f'rs" line).  Bill and Frank of episode 3 also... just... nothing clicking between those actors.

 Also there is so little exposition.  Characters just jump right to the key piece of whatever they need. Ellie walks into a room, grabs a 1,000 page book, and flips to the exact page where the note she needs is stashed.  Then a second later she figures out its a secret code instead of just random notes on a piece of paper. Every single scene is this way; characters just fall right into where and what they need.  Plot armor is on high alert!

 Honestly I would be lost on some things if I wasn't listening to the companion podcast.  The podcast does a much better job of explaining character motivations and key moments than the actual show.  One particular one is where Joel flinches at one point touching Ellie after knowing she is infected yet numerous times before that.  In the show I barely remembered it because Joel is grabbing her without flinching in every other scene before and after that moment.  It wasn't until the podcast that I reconciled why he flinched in that one scene.  In retrospect the flinch was contrived and forced.

 Then there is the mechanics of how the world and it's fungus infection works.  It has made me go "what?" so many times.  Maybe it works in the games better than it does here?  The infection can be gotten from spores?  Or by getting bitten?  But not by being scratched or having an open head wound like Joel did fighting the clickers?  It was in the food supply and went global in one day?  And if you can catch it from spores why do the characters literally not care about climbing around mushroomed dead bodies everywhere?  Why are they eating their lunch surrounded by the stuff? Why do they pick up dead infected bodies to burn without a care in the world?  You would think any single encounter with an infected, dead or alive, or any of the tendrils growing from one would send folks into a panic.  

 Let's not even get into how the fungus becomes octopus like and able to move it's tendrils about and therefore has zero resemblance to the concept of the fungus causing it's host to do something vs the fungus becoming sentient.  On top of that it only has these special powers in scenes where the visual effects budget allows for it.

 Also a single gun shot takes out an infected but being crushed in rubble doesn't?  Why do some die so fast and why are others found years later?  The one liners trying to cover this and the flashback at the start of episode two fall woefully short of making any sense to me.  It feels like the show tries way to hard to explain the situation and just comes up short.  

 I really, really struggle with the world building here.  I literally do not want to hear about it anymore.  Just make the world dangerous and don't bother trying to over explain it to me.  Bad shit happened and the world is what it is.  Now take off the plot armor on the characters and work on chemistry between characters.  Also stop giving them freaking chicken sandwiches.  No one is eating bread in this world if the worldwide outbreak was caused by flour being contaminated.