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The Last Of Us Reviews Are All Saying The Same Thing

Tension and "The Last of Us" have gone hand in sweaty controller-holding hand since the original video game masterpiece was released in 2013. The postapocalyptic tale of Joel and Ellie's fungus-riddled road trip is one of the greats and earned the right to be in the same conversation as "The Walking Dead" and "Mad Max" as far as stories set at the end of the world go. That stress level has been raised again in the past few weeks in the lead-up to HBO's live-action adaptation — arriving on January 15 — handled by the game's creator, Neil Druckmann, and "Chernobyl" creator Craig Mazin. Fans have been waiting with great anticipation to see just how Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey have handled playing two icons of not just video games but one of the greatest survival horror stories ever told. Well, now the wait is finally over.

Like a Clicker in a bubble wrap factory, critics have all come shuffling in online with their final verdicts on the all-new series ahead of its release this Sunday. Has the unthinkable finally happened? Has "The Last of Us" been given the treatment it deserves in its transition to live action? Absolutely. In fact, by the sounds of things, it may have even surpassed it.

The Last of Us lands a perfect score with critics

To fail to retell "The Last of Us," with a DualShock in hand or not, would be an impressive feat for all the wrong reasons. Thank the Fireflies that the show has done what few have dared to dream and remained faithful to the heart-pounding, white-knuckle ride we got in the first place, sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of publication.

Empire gave it a perfect score of 5/5, praising it for accomplishing where others failed. "The live-action The Last Of Us is a superb example of how to make an adaptation work, how to retain the elements of what worked while having the confidence to explore bold new avenues, to expand the universe, to make a thing that stands on its own two feet," wrote John Nugent.

Seemingly deviating from the original story in certain areas, as some would expect to keep fans and the uninitiated on their toes, it's a journey that's made more satisfying by the two central performances at its core. In the game, Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker are the performers beneath the pixels of Ellie and Joel. Here, though, Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal are our live-action iterations of the young girl with a big secret and the father figure forced to protect her. By the sounds of things, they've done the characters just as much justice by respecting what came before while still making the roles their own.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are the perfect Joel and Ellie

Unlike Ben Schwartz's Sonic the Hedgehog or Chris Pratt's yet-to-be-revealed management of Mario, Pedro Pascal's Joel and Bella Ramsey's Ellie are already founded on incredible performances laced with depth and chemistry. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson both delivered award-worthy turns as Joel and Ellie in 2013, and thankfully, it's something that Pascal and Ramsey have managed to replicate in their unique way while still keeping accurate to the powerful pair.

Admittedly, Pascal playing the reluctant guardian of a youngster isn't anything new for him given the fact he's been doing it off-world for some time now as Din Djarin in "The Mandalorian." The success story, however, looks to be coming from Ramsey, whose role on "The Last of Us" will undoubtedly demand more of the young star as the show progresses.

Simon Cardy of IGN wrote, "Bella Ramsey is simply electrifying as Ellie, effortlessly shifting between delicate vulnerability, youthful excitement, and determined power. She's a true revelation and deserves all the credit in the world for making her mark on a character whose previous interpretation has been so firmly ingrained in people's minds." It turns out, though, that while these might be winning turns from the show's leads, there's a surprise in the supporting cast that might steal the show from them.

Critics agree that (Episode) 3 is a magic number for The Last of Us

As much as Joel and Ellie will try to avoid strangers and infected stragglers during their journey, the game it's based on, "The Last of Us," does home some supporting stars who are willing to help, albeit reluctantly. One fine example is Bill, the antisocial ally perfectly cast on the show with the addition of Nick Offerman, who shares the screen with his on-screen love, Frank, played by Murray Bartlett of "The White Lotus." Both characters appear in Episode 3 and are seemingly expanded on a lot more than their original iterations, marking what may lead to incredible results.

According to Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter, "[Episode 3 is] mostly the portrait of an unexpected and fully heartbreaking relationship between survivors played by Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (so good and so inextricably linked that the TV Academy may need to set new precedent with a shared guest acting nomination)." Something that's only briefly hinted at in the game, Bill and Frank's time together is seemingly brought to the forefront in the show.

If it does yield a nomination or two come awards season, by the sounds of things, it wouldn't be the only one for "The Last of Us," and it shouldn't be a surprise. One of the best games ever made might have just become one of the best shows of 2023. Now there's only one question to ask: Is it Sunday yet?