The Last of Us (2023)

Its a massive sensation – i’ve heard its been rated as the best television show ever, or the best video game adaptation of all time. The public are crying for awards for its cast, and applauding how modern and ‘woke’ it is.

But…I’m terribly different to everyone else. The Dark Knight is not the best Batman movie, Jupiter Ascending is actually very entertaining, and Nicolas Cage is one of the best actors in cinema today. I have many other controversial opinions, each one driving a wedge between me and everyone else. Heck, the best Star Trek is Voyager. I am allowed to mix curry sauce with pasta and i will have mackerel on homemade pizzas.

So i watched episode one of this series because a friend’s fiancee believed it the best thing since bread layered with bischoff spread. It may even be better than the new Linda Hamilton Monster flavour… so here we go.

The game was released 10 years ago by Naughty Dog (them of the Uncharted franchise) and it won gaming awards aplenty. It completely passed me by, and so i attacked this show oblivious to the plot. I even believed it was a survival story about two people in a battlefield. I did not know it was Science Fiction.

After the pilot my hopes were dashed. Its a post apocalyptic story, in a world where Zombies are running rife. But no, sorry, they’re not Zombies, they’re blind ‘clickers’ which have arisen from a superevolved fungus. They bite people and they become singular-minded undead. But not Zombies.

BUT WAIT: there is a young girl, who is immune, and therefore her blood could save the world. And the grumpy main man (who lost his daughter) has to protect her as they travel across America searching for the “Fireflies” – a bunch of freedom fighters who are potentially Earth’s last hope.

I’m sorry, but its raining cliches, and i don’t have an umbrella. I wasn’t impressed.

Heres the plot twist. Its bloody amazing.

Pedro Pascal absolutely shines as the grizzled, damaged protagonist, and Bella Ramsey gives a wonderful performance as humanity’s last hope.

Do you know WHY its so good (despite the high quality of acting on show)? Its because it ISN’T about zombies / clickers / rage monsters. Its about people. It has shades of Walking Dead – but where the Walking dead fails (with x number of seasons and tens of filling episodes), the Last of Us creates a taught, tension boiler of a season, delivering necessary, emotional flashbacks as well as some rapid fire action, and even a little humour.

Its brutal, it’ll make you cry.

However; i have to say i don’t love it as much as i think i’m expected to. Its not the groundbreaker of television, but it is solid entertainment. Watched at night, in the dark. With a shotgun in hand.


It is arguably one of the best franchises of video games in modern times; praised everywhere by gamers not only because it practically re-invented a genre but it delivered that crucial, jade-encrusted triumverate of script, plot and gameplay. In fact make that a quadumverate, because they are bloody beautiful games too. There are five, i believe, of which i’ve played the three PS3 originals.

However, lets imagine you don’t know what Uncharted is and you’re going to see this film because its got a fair cast, and the trailer promises action, puns, one-liners and explosions. And Tom Holland, who is big in cinema at the moment for reasons Stan Lee.

Nathan Drake is a thief, and his thievery is spotted by older theif Sully, who is on the trail of Magellan’s Gold – it turns out the explorer didn’t make it round the world, and wherever his quest ended there is a massive pile of loot. A pile he wants his hands on. (Drake also wants it, but his quest is more of a family thing).

So Sully enlists the help of young Drake (and co-thief / love interest Chloe) and they go off to find the sparkly gold treasure, hopefully before nasty man Moncada (apparent heir to the riches) gets his dubiously legal claws into it.

That was a fair synopsis, i guess. With a mixture of action stolen from Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones and with CGI stunts and nonsence, this promises a silly passing of the time. And it delivers on this. BUT. Its nothing special. And it feels like it should be.

Mark Wahlberg brings nothing to the role. He is bland and without charm – one might think he is pissed that the lead went to a younger actor and he is relegated now to second fiddle. Antonio Banderas is even worse, giving nothing to his villain – not even super camp nastiness – thats all it would have taken.

Thankfully, Tom Holland delivers a solid, watchable performance, proving he is worth keeping an eye on outside of his Spidery-alter ego. We are sure now that Chaos Walking was just a blip.

The use of CGI just reminds us that action films are 100 fold better when stunts look and feel real. I mean, yeah, it wouldn’t have been EASY to do the action scene with all the crates hanging out the back of the plane but…its not impossible. Bond film “The Living Daylights” managed something similar in the late 80s, for example.

My second major gripe is the “laddy bantz”; the constant need to be swapping puns and take-downs and one-liners when…well they’d only known each other for a few hours. The fluency in the script would be perfect if they’d known each other for a few years maybe – but this old guy just recruited this young guy a few hours ago.

Anyway. Thats where my ‘unbiased’ review has to end; this is a standard adventure film with some watchability, but ultimately nothing special. I have forgiven it a lot of faults since my first watch as i just learned it was always intended as a soft-prequel to the games. Its still lacking that core heart of loyalty and pride that similar daft-action-hero films like National Treasures 1 + 2, and Sahara have in droves, and thats what makes them infinitely superior.

That said, i absolutely goosebumped when the Uncharted theme kicked in. The film may not have blown my mind, but i’m off to play through the games again.

RESIDENT EVIL: Welcome to Raccoon City

The Resident Evil films (that huge franchise that followed Milla Jovovich re-killing things and looking awesome all the time and where lots of things blew up and nothing really made sense) were hardly failures – yes they were as ropey as a Go Ape Vacation and had as much oscar-creed as a pile of bananas but did anyone care? Well, sure, unfortunately, it being based on a massively popular video game series with enough geeky fans to populate a moon, it meant a similarly massive proportion of its fan size are going to be pissed off that its a) not canon / not canon enough and b) was taking liberties with a perfectly good video game series story.

I agree, of course. I may not be the biggest fan of the Resident Evil games, but i’ve played a ton of them… and i sort of understand the basic plots because one of my pals has explained it to me once. Heck, i even think i owned a few of them. The remake of the original, the umbrella chronicles on rails-first-person-er, the one with the dude with his head in a bag with a chainsaw… oh, and i watched a grown man lose his shit during a VR session with one of the newer ones…but was i a fan? Hmmm i wouldn’t go that far.

But i understand why some peeps get pissed when films change things from the source material. I’ve ranted about this very thing elsewhere.

So when Paul WS Anderson’s string of rubbish masterpieces came to an end with “The Final Chapter” it seemed inevitable that somewhere down the line a reboot would occur.

But this was not what they wanted. They, being the fans.

This was a ham fisted attempt to tell the already established story of Resident Evil using enough tiny references to keep the fans happy and still tell a cohesive horror story… except somewhere down the line it went from 70% film to 30% Resi love letter to 30% film, 70% obscure reference to something else. Pretty much all the main characters appear, in much more PC skins, and we get to see shot-for-shot recreations of famous scenes (the first zombie turning his head towards the camera from way back when, remember the shot??), writing on the wall, a video of characters unnecessary to the immediate plot… meh. I got lost.

Maybe it is good. Maybe to truly enjoy this you have to be knee deep in the franchise, but if you’re that deep you’re not going to appreciate the unnecessaries – its not as if the characters needed actors anyway – they all look real enough.

And then in that case… why make this in the first place? Why not make another entry into the franchise altogether? A new chapter / spin off set in the franchise’s beloved and expansive world, with a standalone ploy AND some cheeky nods at the series.

Instead, a boring, flat mess, wasting the talents of Firestorm and Damian Dahrk, and the gorilla man from the (laugh laugh) Umbrella Academy. Poor.