Day 4 (May 8, 2015)
I’m really starting to get immersed in the game now and can’t wait to play it every night.
After meeting the wounded leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, we are introduced to the female lead of the game, Ellie, a young girl who is seemingly very important for some strange reason. As it turns out, Marlene wants Joel and Tess to help the Fireflies smuggle Ellie out, and if they do so, they’ll get their guns back “and then some.”
It’s pretty obvious that Ellie is supposed to be some kind of substitute for Joel’s dead daughter, and their relationship will form the crux of the game’s emotional core. It’s a good dynamic. Joel’s disillusioned, hardened and wary from years of doing nasty things to survive, and the last thing he wants to be reminded of is the one thing (or person, rather) that will remind him of his former humanity. Ellie, on the other hand, is also hardened by the environment she has had to grow up in but seems to be looking for a parent figure, making the two of them a perfect match.
The first time I saw Ellie’s face — I think it was in a poster or trailer — I immediately thought of Ellen Page. It’s an uncanny similarity many gamers have noticed.
This caused a bit of a furore when the game came out, because Page did not lend her likeness to the game or perform any motion capture. What caused more confusion was the fact that Page was actually starring in another video game, Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream’s follow-up to Heavy Rain. Here’s what Page looked like in that game.
Page was apparently not happy about it, and Naughty Dog actually did some editing before the game was released to make Ellie look more like the actress who did the voice and motion capture, Ashley Johnson.
It’s not a big deal that she looks very little like Ellie, since the actor who played Joel, Troy Baker, looks nothing like his character either.
What I find interesting though is that a lot of people are calling for Ellen Page to play Ellie in the movie version of The Last of Us. While Page does look young for her age (28), getting her to play a 14-year-old is a bit of a stretch. The actress who has been tentatively attached to the movie project is actually Maisie Williams, whom most of you will know as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones.
I like this idea a lot. Williams is 18 but seems much younger on Thrones, and she’s only 155cm tall, which would allow her to easily pass as a 14 year old when paired with a taller actor. Besides, I think it’s stupid to cast actors for a movie adaptation of a video game based on their physical resemblance to the characters.
Other names fans have brought up include Dakota Fanning (too old, unless they up Ellie’s age in the movie), Elle Fanning (she’s 17 but too tall at 5’8″, plus her acting in Maleficent was…), Ariel Winter from Modern Family (she’s 17 but probably could do it), and Chloe Grace Moretz (she’s 18 but can look young, so maybe). I don’t think any of them are as suitable as Williams at this stage.
As for Joel, there are currently no actors attached to the project, but that has not stopped fans from speculating who should get the job. Top names being thrown around at the moment include Hugh Jackman, Josh Brolin, Dylan McDermott, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gerard Butler, Russel Crowe, Bradley Cooper, and Viggo Mortensen. I’d actually prefer someone less famous, but out of that bunch, my money’s on Hugh Jackman. He has the stature and built, the physicality to take on zombies bare-fisted and the vulnerability — as demonstrated by his performance in Prisoners — to make a convincing Joel. Josh Brolin would be my second choice and McDermott by third, but none of the others feel like good fits.
As for Tess? Lena Heady from Thrones would be excellent because we know she’s got the balls to pull it off. Of course, the actress who did the voice and motion capture, Annie Wersching, would be a good choice too.
Anyway, back to the game itself. As expected, it does not take long for Ellie to reveal her secret. I had suspected that she’s important because of some link to a cure for the virus, and as it turned out, I was right. Joel, Tess and Ellie are accosted by a bunch of soldiers, who use this special gadget to test whether they are infected or not.
After taking down the soldiers, they discover that the machine returned a positive reading for Ellie. She was bitten a few weeks back and hasn’t turned, an anomaly considering everyone is supposed to turn within two days of infection. So that’s why they need to get Ellie to some scientists so they can figure out why, and perhaps develop some kind of cure or vaccine for the masses.
From here, Joel and Tess will have to babysit Ellie until they meet up with the Fireflies, but I’m certain something else will happen so that the plot will require Joel to travel with Ellie all the way across the country. That’s just the way these stories work, but rather than complain about its predictability I’m going to praise The Last of Us for the way it has handled the drama thus far. In any case, the game looks like it’s going to be a lot more action packed from this point forward.
Stay tuned for more!