There have been rumors of a live action Halo since I was talking trash with my friends while playing Halo 2 in middle school. Every few years we would get another “the Halo movie/show is coming!” but there was never anything. But now Paramount + brings Master Chief’s story to life, just not one players are used to. The series makes some choices that are going to catch backlash from die-hard fans of the series but video games and live-action are different mediums that it treats as such.
Halo follows the story of Spartan-117 John aka Master Chief. You know the guy, 10-feet tall and encased in armor that could crush a small sedan. The show is set before the fall of Reach when the Covenant is still only becoming known to different pockets of the universe as the United Nations Space Command battles to keep them at bay. Different human colonies are having a rise in insurgencies against the UNSC. On one of those colony planets lays an ancient object that kicks off the big mystery of the series.
I had the chance to chat with Pablo Schreiber who said that viewers should “put down the controller, sit back, and watch” because it is a very difference experience. Many fans were up in arms about the fact that Master Chief would remove his helmet and face which has never been done in the games. What works in the games doesn’t translate to screen. Viewers need to see Chief as more than a Spartan, we need to see that he is flesh and blood which the series handles well. As players, we are Master Chief. We want to believe that the first person view is ours as we toss Grunts and slam gravity hammers but a show cannot base itself around that. New audiences need to see what is going on with this character. It’s much harder to empathize with a helmet than it is a face which is why I think it works very well for the show. I enjoyed the show a lot, especially Master Chief’s performance. His performance alongside Yerin Ha, brings a lot of levity to a character who is often very imposing. I am going to stick it out to finish the fight as has been instilled by me from a young age.
That isn’t to say the show is without faults, some of which are glaring. The CGI in the show is not well done. It’s not an easy feat to make the Covenant forces look like living breathing things but in the show the Elite look little above a CW show’s CGI budget. Their design is interesting but their animation and overall presence is lacking in what could be a ground-breaking video game adaptation. Many of the practical effects are well pulled off though which may make up for it to some viewers.
The score is the biggest let down for me as a fan of the series. The games are known for their iconic scores, especially the themes by Martin O’Donnell which are present only in whispers. I was expecting a lot more for the shows score even if I have only seen the first 2 episodes. I assume most of the major themes will be saved for epic scenes later in the series. I do my best as a reviewer to remove my bias as a fan of the series but not including the full gravity of Halo’s big Gregorian chant was almost a complete deal-breaker for me.
Would middle school Dan have thought this was the coolest show ever? 100% and I hope the younger audiences find this show to spark a whole new generation of Halo fans. But for me, I am going to watch the season with hesitancy so I will not be let down like I have been with a lackluster opening. They didn’t stick it.