HBO’s The Last of Us has ended, and one thing is clear, this may be the BEST video game adaptation ever made. Perhaps it’s a hot take from me, considering that I’ve never played any of the games, but from what fans are saying, the show stays true to the games, mostly. Before I continue, SPOILERS AHEAD!! CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK
The setting is in a dystopian America, with characters Joel and Elle traveling across an Infected country, as they make their way to what they believe to be the beginnings of a cure. Pedro Pascal plays Joel, and Bella Ramsey plays Ellie, and the two must both fight off raiders, Infected, and more while finding humanity in a world where it’s in short supply. As I said earlier, I never played the games, so I went into this show blind…And, I couldn’t be happier with that choice, cause…Damn! From the first episodes, showcasing how the Cordyceps infection was predicted and then impacted the world, The Last of Us does have great action scenes. From Ellie fending off cannibal raiders to the finale with Joel saving Ellie from resistance fighters, the action pieces are done well. However, more than that, The Last of Us shines the brightest when it slows down and focuses on the characterization rather than pushing the plot for the sake of the plot.
Pascal does a great job, portraying Joel. A broken man, who lost his daughter, before the world ended. Joel, at first, is almost devoid of any real emotion. He lost his daughter, his brother, Tommy, is missing, and he has no incentive to reconnect with the world. But Firefly resistance member, Marlene (played by Merle Dandridge) makes him an offer; take this girl up north to a secure location, and they’ll help find his brother. At first, Joel and Ellie definitely don’t hit it off. Ellie’s rebel spirit mixed with Joel’s no-nonsense attitude clash. However, with time, they both learn from each other. Ellie learns how the world used to be, and how to survive while Joel regains some of his humanity back. The two have their fair share of trauma; Ellie tells Joel how she was forced to kill her best friend, and Joel lives through a suicide attempt. As they travel, they acknowledge their bond and do whatever it takes to survive. Their dynamic is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to witness. In the season finale, it’s revealed by Marlene that Ellie may possess cells that can create a cure for Cordyceps, but at the cost of Ellie’s life. Joel is left with no choice but to save the girl he loves a daughter, killing anyone in his path. We’ll have to wait until season 2 if he made the right decision (or play the game if you don’t care about spoilers!) What’s worse, is that Joel lied to Ellie, about the events of what happened. What would you do if you were in Joel’s position?
It's really difficult to pinpoint my favorite moment in The Last of Us because there are so many! Joel reuniting with Tommy, Ellie’s night out with her best friend, Riley (Storm Reid), the tragic love story of Bill and Frank, or the gut-wrenching ending of characters Henry and Sam. Not too many shows can debut, captivating viewers with every episode by sharing a genre that The Walking Dead’s in. Rarer still, video game adaptations don’t get better than this. I give The Last of Us a 9.5 out of 10! What did you think of the show? Did it stay faithful to the game? Are you excited about season 2? Post your thoughts below, and till next time, fellow blerds!
Creed 3, starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, and Jonathan Majors is in theaters, and it’s a knockout! (Forgive the pun, couldn’t resist!) In Jordan’s first directorial debut, the film showcases Adonis Creed’s life as a retired heavyweight champion. His legacy cemented, Adonis and his wife, Bianca (Thompson) are living the dream. Bianca is a singing superstar, their daughter represents the best of both, and Adonis is helping Lil’ Duke (Harris) run Delphi Boxing Gym, training the next generation of fighters. But someone from Adonis’ past shows up, bringing painful memories with him. Dame (Majors) reunites with Creed, as they try to mend a fractured brotherhood. However, Dame’s true intentions are made clear, as he wants what is “owed” to him and won’t stop until Dame gets it. It all leads to a personal confrontation between Adonis and Dame, to determine who’s really the best.
MASSIVE Spoilers ahead! Continue at your own risk!!!
From the first Creed film, we’ve seen the character Adonis Creed grow in front of us, from a troubled kid who wants to grow out of his late father’s shadow to learning how to make peace with his namesake and making his own legacy. Adonis Creed is in rare form. In the previous two movies, Adonis struggled with his father, Apollo Creed, not being in his life, and how he died. (Apollo died in the ring against rival Ivan Drago, in Rocky 4.) In the finale of Creed 2, Adonis beat Drago’s son, Viktor (and made peace with both Drago’s, in a deleted scene.) Adonis comes to terms with how he needed to find his reason to fight, not for his father, but for himself. In doing so, he learns to express his emotions, and overcome his doubts. A well-done showing of modern-day masculinity if you ask me. Tessa Thompson’s Bianca is in a fight of her own, with struggling with hearing loss as a singer. Bianca also deals with supporting Adonis while dealing with her own battle, on top of raising a daughter who is deaf. Bianca isn’t meek, either. She’s willing to call Adonis out on his ish when the time calls for it. The new character, Dame, is fresh out of prison, and wants to prove himself as a boxer. A former Golden Glove champion whose career was cut short, Dame finds Creed and it all brings back memories. Some are happy, most painful. When they were young, Adonis and Dame were like brothers, but when Adonis beat his abusive foster father on the street, Dame pulls a gun to stop others from jumping in. Almost 20 years passed, Dame does show signs of struggling to reintegrate into society. At first, Adonis wants to help him as much as he can, out of guilt and to the dismay of Lil Duke (Harris). Eventually, Dame’s plan comes to light, as he wants to take what’s “owed” to him from Adonis.
Let me tell you, I was already going to see Creed 3, due to me being a fan of the franchise. But, when Jonathan Majors was cast as the antagonist, I threw my money at the ticket box! Creed 3 is one of the best takes on how to overcome guilt, showcasing what modern-day masculinity should be, and paving the way for the next generation. Speaking of generations, it is noticeable that Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) isn’t in this picture. It’s reported that Stallone is upset with Irvin Winkler, the owner of the rights to Rocky. I believe that Stallone wants his rights back, which is why he won't be in this film. But it kind of comes across as slighting Jordan on his directorial debut. Plus, if all this was going on with Donnie, you would think Rocky would have a 30-second cameo, asking if he needed Rocky’s help. But, again, this is Creed’s story. Rocky’s time is done, (Stallone even said that Creed 2 was his last appearance as the character.) But, back to the movie. The heart of these films isn’t the fights or the training montages, it’s the story behind those events. From Adonis and Bianca raising a deaf daughter, to Mary Alice hiding Dame’s letters from Donnie, Creed 3 has drama that holds its own with the fight scenes. And the fight scenes, wow! I know Jordan said that he was inspired by some anime, but you can clearly tell from some of the shots that there’s some Dragonball Z, Hajime No Ippo, and other anime sprinkled in the boxing scenes.
My few nitpicks with Creed 3 are that it feels kind of short when compared to the first two. The final boxing scene could have been a bit longer, but I suspect it's because we all know Creed will win the fight. Another nitpick is Phylicia Rashad’s character dying! We already lost Queen Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) in Wakanda Forever, but did we really need to see another black mother figure die?! Again, it’s a nitpick, but it’s one I wasn’t ready for.
I may sound like a broken record, but Creed 3 really is a good example of healthy masculinity. We see Donnie mend his relationship with Dame, and even Donnie train with former rival Viktor Drago. More than the boxing, Adonis Creed’s journey from a hungry, young boxer who wants validation for himself and not just his namesake, to a confident boxer who created his own legacy, standing out of his father’s (and to an extent, Rocky’s) shadow. Learning to forgive himself and others, Creed has come full circle. I give Creed 3 a 9 out of 10. What did you think? Post your thoughts below, be sure to follow me in Instagram @blerdpov2.0, and till next time fellow blerds!