‘Decision to Leave’ and ‘The Last of Us’, the first two disappointments of 2023

In audiovisual matters, 2023 has started strong, two of the most anticipated projects have been released this month: the film Decision to Leave and the HBO series, The Last of Us. Two works endorsed by the names of their creators.

In the case of the movie Decision to Leavewe meet the Korean teacher, Park Chan Wook, author of many of the best films of the 21st century. From the already classic oldboyeven the feminist and prodigious, The maid (The Handmaiden). And behind the HBO series, The Last of Us, it’s found craig mazin the author of Chernobyl, the wonderful HBO series about the sad nuclear disaster.

poster of Decision to Leave.

The Last of Us poster.
poster of The Last of Us.

With those names, it is normal for the hype of both works would walk through the clouds. Also, Park Chan-wook’s movie swept film festivals around the worldamong many others, collected in Cannes the Best Direction Award and the HBO series adapted a video game considered by many to be one of the best in history. So what could go wrong? Apparently nothing.

The first episode of The Last of Usit has been a resounding success. Even HBO was allowed to raise the price of the subscription to its platform days before its premiere, taking advantage of the arrival of new subscribers who wanted to see the series. Y specialized critics have turned to praise with Decision to Leavethe latest film considered by many, including myself, the best film director in the world.

Why do I consider them a disappointment then? Now I explain it to you:

The Last of Us: more of the same, an empty product without spark

The new series by Graig Mazin, co-written with Neil Druckmanthe creator of the 2013 video gameis starred by two interpreters that we could see in Game of Thrones, Peter Pascal Y Bella Ramsey. The Last of Us tells us how world society has been infected by a fungus for which there is no cure and has been practically decimated.

A new dystopia in which the infected become zombiess with the qualities of a mushroom and a somewhat conspicuous appearance. Joel Miller, the character played by Pedro Pascal, will be in charge of protecting and safeguarding the girl played by Bella Ramsey, Ellie Williams, a girl who has the key to get a vaccine and thus eradicate the pandemic that ravages the Earth.

An argument that perhaps when the video game was released might seem original, but that is currently very hackneyed. Dystopian movies like sons of men (2006) by Alfonso Cuarón or the zombie tape, Melanie. The Girl With All the Gifts (2016), They use pretty much the same premise.

In addition, the stories with rude men who travel with children that they must protect are also very popular, think about everything in between Terminator 2 (1991) and sweet tooth (2021)for example.

But its lack of originality is not its only problem. There are inconsistencies that should not be overlooked in a production of these characteristics. In the first episode of The Las of Us, we meet the character of Pedro Pascal 20 years before the time in which the story takes place, and… magic! 20 years later he is practically the same, he has only added a few gray hairs… Now it was embarrassing to hear his character say in 2002 that he was 36, when Pascal is 47which leave it the same 20 years later and stay just as wide.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us.
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us.

The Last of Us: boring and conventional

The series presents too many characters and organizations without explaining where they come from, or what they are going to. The Earth is desolate, but everyone is well nourished and in perfect condition… The secondary characters are blurred and hardly matter to anyone.

Everything seems to work for a two ex machina that takes away interest from a story already seen before.

A lot of name, a lot of hype, and, apparently, a lot of budget, it’s not enough to get a good story. It seems that lately, we get carried away a lot by the names of the authors and settle for mediocre products like the latest movies by Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele or James Cameron.

The Last of Us is it a bad series? Not at all, but it is far from corresponding to everything that was expected of itor live up to Chernobyl or the wonderful video game that it adapts. A video game in which what is not seen prevailed, what the characters feel, the sensations and its atmosphere, something very different from what the HBO series offers us, in which everything inside is empty and hollow.

Decision to Leave: the new Park Chan-wook or a midday soap opera?

With the latest from korean genius something similar to what happens with the HBO series happens, is it a bad movie? Not at all, but it is far from what is expected of him and his previous work.

Decision to Leave is a thriller that gives a twist to the femme fatale, the iconic film noir character. That is one of her virtues. That and Park Chan-wook’s virtuosity with the camera. His audiovisual genius and inventiveness has no competition, but the story is a simple nonsense that does not stand out as a thriller, nor as a romantic tape, nor as a comedy (The movie is loaded with excessive scenes that should be laughable and cause more bewilderment than anything else).

Decision to LeaveAs much as one wants to defend it, it cannot be placed among the best of the filmography of one of the best directors in the world.

Until now, Park Chan-wook’s cinema, whether in the form of cinema of revenge, war, period, romantic or vampire It was built on a perfectly armed script and full of fascinating characters built in detail and with more than one elaborate script twist that left you speechless. That and the unparalleled mastery of Park Chan-wook, made seeing each of his works quite an experience.

Even in movies like Three… Extremes, in which he only directs one of his three stories, he makes it clear that we are dealing with a gifted creator. A true genius.

Decision to Leave, by Park Chan-wook.
Decision to Leaveof Park Chan-wook.

Decision to Leave: the worst of the best

Decision to Leave works by the imagery of its director, His images are fascinating, but if we’re honest, they don’t measure up to his work either.. There are moments when one seems to be watching a regular soap opera.

The characters love from a place that is too melodramatic, so much so that they end up becoming a caricature of themselves. Feelings are born that, even with the great performances of its protagonists, you don’t just believe them. Its story is boring and makes you disconnect from the two main plots, the police and the romantic. You reach its interesting cold end, with a bittersweet feeling.

As I was saying before, Decision to Leave It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not the absolute masterpiece that they’re trying to sell us either. due to the fact that it came from a director like Park Chan-wook. I hope that in his next film he will not settle for a story as bland, simple and conventional as that of his Decision to Leave.

‘Decision to Leave’ and ‘The Last of Us’, the first two disappointments of 2023 – Las Furias Magazine – Cultural and Feminist Magazine