The Last Of Us is one of the best seasons of a television show of recent memory. And it once again changes up the zombie genre in a fantastic way. The amount of horror, action, and excellent dramatic tension is superb here. And the emotional heft that the two mains bring in each episode is dynamite. The 4K image with Dolby Vision looks amazing and the Dolby Atmos track sounds excellent. The extras are wonderful and are worth watching. Highly Recommended!
Those fortunate enough to have a PS3 back in 2013 were treated to one of the best video games ever made that not only combined the absolute best opening experience in virtual play, but also had the ingredients to cook the perfect balance of horror scares and character drama all into one game. It was titled The Last of Us and joined the zombie universe at a time when zombies were all the rage every single day of the week in some form or fashion. The video game caught on and became an international sensation. Fortunately, a decade later, the best cable television company HBO knows how brilliant that IP was and turned it into the most phenomenal series in the horror genre within its first season that evoked all those same unique feelings from the video game.
In 1968, George Romero introduced the world to zombies. He not only showcased those flesh-eaters chomping down on human skin, but he told a narrative that was poignant about a suspected worldwide pandemic, racial issues, and more. From the success of this film, Romero went on to reveal his vision of consumerism, the military, social media, and other topical elements of the human race through his zombie universe. Many filmmakers took their love of his movies and made their own special films about the undead in a variety of genres. It really wasn't until The Walking Dead premiered in comic book form which then turned into an international sensation that zombies became popular again with that integral emotional support to all the gore and horror. With that AMC series, there were hordes of different characters, all of which had to navigate a maze of screen time, which didn't always work out the best.
But with HBO's The Last Of Us, the story centers on only two strangers who form an almost instant father-daughter bond as they traverse through rough and scary terrain to find help after a serious pandemic that turned humans into funghi zombies. Like the original game's opening sequence, HBO got it perfectly correct with the same amount of dread, suspense, horror, and action that transferred flawlessly to the screen, which is something that video games and movie adaptations have always struggled with. But with The Last Of Us, it nailed each and every landing, including its character arcs, the sheer terror of the zombie outbreaks, and even sidelining the two protagonists and allowing this chaotic world to breathe by showcasing different characters who are only shown in one episode. It's a fantastic way to world-build a series and the creators here nailed it.
While The Last Of Us shares some surface elements with those zombie franchises that came before it, this is a beast of its own as Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) trek through a zombie-ridden world that has failed to start up again after twenty years and find help or a cure. This is just as much a family drama and story of love as it is about a zombie infection. The first season allows these characters to get a taste of what life is like in this war-torn society in all facets of kindness and ferocity. Pascal and Ramsey relay these excellent tender moments along with their willingness to poke fun at the world in a way to keep their human sanity in the middle of something truly horrifying. These performances are award-worthy and infectious. The Last Of Us Season One is one of those rare instances that only comes along once in a blue moon where it can earn the title of being one of the best first seasons of a television series of all time.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Last Of Us Season One clicks its way to 4K via HBO and Warner. The four discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. This plastic case is pretty janky, so being careful is a priority in handling this. The artwork is the poster for the show with Pedro and Bella looking back on a savaged cityscape. It's not very memorable. There is no insert for a digital code, but there is one for the episodes and bonus features.
The Last Of Us comes with a wonderful 2160p UHD 4K image with Dolby Vision that looks spectacular. With the subject matter as sour as it is, this is a surprisingly great-looking image full of color. The Dolby Vision enhances those darker sequences well and allows the detail to shine through in those low-lit corridors. The fungus-colored clickers present those Earthy colors that showcase yellows, greens, and decaying browns and blacks. The blue and grey skies contrast perfectly with the green and beige terrain. Within the city, the torn-down buildings bring s new forms of reds and oranges to the forefront.
There are some big images in a couple of episodes that examine the brighter primary colors that pop, such as Episode three and the sequences in the abandoned mall which give off that '80s vibe. Black levels are inky and rich with only a couple of murky moments in an episode or two. The skin tones are natural as well. The detail is very sharp and vivid that reveal amazing close-ups that include individual hairs, wrinkles, facial pores, and all of those exquisite, gooey practical effects of muscle tissue, brains, blood, and guts. The CGI effects are never hindered either, looking fresh and crisp. There are no issues with this video presentation.
This release comes with a Dolby Atmos track that utilizes every speaker fluidly and perfectly. This is a wonderfully immersive mix that captures every horrifying element from this first sequence all the way to the final moment of the season. Those sound effects are robust and loud, giving a well-balanced and nuanced soundscape in every environment. Explosions pack a big punch with a low end of bass that has a fantastic rumble to it. Clicker noises utilize those high pitch squeals and click that surround the speakers making anyone who watches the series feel like there is something behind them. The vehicle engines roaring and the many types of gun blasts all come with a murderous vigor that can be felt in the vibrations of the speakers.
Ambient noises of people yelling, other zombies emoting with noise, and wreckage falling down from other buildings create this terrifying audio space that is full of haunts. The smaller moments inside more cavernous, underground spaces or inside a big mall allow for the natural reverb and spacial tones to come through. The music cues and score always add to the suspense and drama of the movie. The dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow through all the action too. This is one amazing Dolby Atmos track.
There are about 146 minutes of bonus materials spread across all four discs of this first season. The bulk of them are on the last disc of the set which includes great, fun, and informative information on the making of the show. The rest of the bonus features are behind-the-scenes EPKs that are quite wonderful to watch.
The Last Of Us Season One is one of the finest examples of television in decades. The mix of horror and drama here is unparalleled and works perfectly within its universe. HBO delivered a knock-out of a 4K image with Dolby Vision. The Dolby Atmos track also sounds incredible. The bonus features are all worth watching too. There is nothing to really complain about here, other than maybe some new artwork, a steelbook, or a digital code should have been included. Maybe down the road? Highly Recommended!