[Spoilers] Review “The Last of Us 3” – third fan film is a perfect ending to the trilogy

I’ve never made a secret out of it: I AM a fan of these fan films. Iron Horse Cinema Production does a great job on the movie-adaptation of the game, which was probably one of the best in 2013.
The third part – the ending of a trilogy – is out now and pretty awesome as well. Stunning, how professional and close to the game the films are.

It starts with a flashback, which is pretty similar to the happenings in the game. Even the opening credits remind the viewer on the opening credits of Naughty Dogs’ adventure. The atmosphere is immediately built up, the post-apocalyptic touch recognizable right away. The flashback shows how Joel lost his daughter Sarah in the beginning of the time, in which the infection spread out. She was shot by a military man. Jeff Moffitt once more shows his emotional side in this scene and one can almost sense his pain. Although this scene is really, really hard to act out, because it was so uniquely brilliant in the game itself. I’ve seen a documentation about creating it and it was hell for all mo-capped actors like Troy Baker.
Iron Horse’s crew manages to get a good hold on it though. The newly introduced characters Sarah (played by Madison Hine) and Tommy (Aaron J. Young) do a great job and look pretty similar to the characters of the game itself.

After awakening from this dream sequence Joel directly ‘falls’ into a conversation with Marlene, leader of the rebellious Fireflies, brilliantly played by Kele Mogotsi. She IS their leader. What I liked most was how Kele combined her own emotionality and the facade of not caring about Ellie and her fate. The viewer knows, that Marlene doesn’t necessarily want Ellie (the wonderful Kate Sutherlin McLeod) to die, but she sees it as the best for the whole world. She really believes in what she does and she believes, that millions of people could be rescued by sacrificing this one person. And it doesn’t matter if this one person is probably one of the few friends she’s had, a young girl struggling to get through to her and the Fireflies.

But Joel wouldn’t be Joel, if he’d just let Ellie die for the sake of others. He fights to find her, to rescue her and to hold her close to his heart. Because he’s lost one daughter, he doesn’t want to lose the second one – that’s what Ellie has become for him. Jeff acts this side of Joel out to the fullest – the ruthless warrior and killer. The lion fighting for his pack. Determined to get his precious out under any circumstances.
The sequel is pretty laden with action. I personally don’t like that whole killing-people-off-part that much in any movie, but it was very well-choreographed AND it stays true to the game, where the players support Joel and Ellie in their fight against their enemies. May it be Infected or Fireflies.

After fighting off all enemies and rescueing Ellie, they share a scene in the wild, on their way to Tommy’s shelter. Joel lies to Ellie, telling her, that the Fireflies wouldn’t have needed her any longer, that there were others with the same immunity as her. She believes him, yet she has doubts. They share pretty emotional moments once again. Joel speaking openly about Sarah, Ellie telling him about her past. And the viewer knows, that these two just grew together, that they need each other and strongly support each other – no matter what will happen. Even if it is based on a lie.

Joel and Ellie back in the woods; Copyright: Iron Horse Cinema Production (Eugene Lin)
Joel and Ellie back in the woods; Copyright: Iron Horse Cinema Production (Eugene Lin)

In the movie – as well as in the game – the question remains open, if it is morally acceptable, that Joel lies to Ellie. Their relationship is mostly based on trust and a strong friendship. She risked her life for him, he risked his for life for her. They saw people die, they fought together, they suffered together.
And yet, Joel’s decision is more than understandable. And a question, which has been asked more than one time in fictional and real life, still remains unanswered: how much is a life worth? Is the death of one human being worth the rescue of millions?

What I liked most about the fan film was, that there were additional elements, not included in the game, but still very true to the game. The one scene being Joel attacked by a half-infected Firefly (played by Daniel Berkey). The idea of such a semi-Infected, who seems to be stronger, yet still in control of his own will, is pretty interesting. What could they be capable of? What could they mean for the ‘health’ of society? Are there people, who are semi-immune? Or do they turn out to be Infected after a while?
Second scene: Joel teaching Ellie to swim. This shows, how much he cares for her. And yes, in the game there were a couple of scenes, where this feature could have helped. 🙂

Once again they’ve hit the spot. Iron Horse Cinema production surely should be consulted by the Sony people working on their own movie. The casting is perfect (just look at Joel and Ellie in the first place, but everyone else as well), the locations are breath-taking, the camera work is superb.
Of all three films, the second one was and still is my favourite, but if you watch it in a whole, you’ll have the best of entertainment. No matter, if you know the game or not.
I would really appreciate the thought of doing a fourth adaption. Someday maybe?

Honestly: there’d be so much more to write about. The wonderful acting skills of Jeff Moffitt, Kate Sutherlin McLeod, Daniel Berkey (being featured several times in the whole series) or Philipp Midgette (being a Bloater in Part 2 as well), just to mention a few of them. The extraordinarily beautiful camera work dragging you into the scenery (Sy Cody White). The make-up, the props, the atmosphere that’s so unique to the series. Yeah, I know, I might start fangirling right now.
But like I said before: I loved the game and I surely love these movies.

Thanks to the whole team for making it possible!
(Sy Cody White, Mike Magilnick, Mike Sgroi, Jeff Moffitt, Kate Sutherlin McLeod, Kele Mogotsi, Daniel Berkey, Aaron J. Young, Madison Hine, Craig Helfer, Jacob Berger, Chris Trindade, Maximilian Zammit, David Weber, Ian Petersen, Philipp Midgette, Andrew Kim, Danny Dragonetti, Stephanie Arizona, Shaina Harris, Melissa Folger, Karen Vana-Grecco, Loren Giron, Eugene Lin, Jason Lee Hess, Walter Hass and all the Indiegogo-Supporters, too)


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