I have been deeply skeptical about anyone bringing Master Chief to life with a Halo movie or TV show ever since Peter Jackson’s Halo project fell apart eons ago. Now, the series is about to debut in a week on Paramount Plus as that streaming service looks for non-Yellowstone-based hits, and I am…somewhat concerned.
The trailer was okay, I suppose, though it did spawn some memes like its unusual-looking Cortana and the Chevy Tahoe in the background. But reviews are starting to come in, and those too are…okay, at best.
The Halo TV show has just tipped into “positive” territory on Rotten Tomatoes with a 60%, though admittedly, TV shows generally rate higher than their movie counterparts on the service, and that’s lower than a host of other current shows (Upload – 100%, Euphoria – 82%, Severence – 87%, Minx – 92%). The only “Rotten” show on RT’s front page right now at all is Netflix’s Pieces of Her at a 50%.
But it’s not just the reviews. I’ve heard a lot of…odd things from the cast and crew that make me thinking that dedicated Halo fans may have some issues with the final product.
HALO: Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in HALO set to stream on Paramount+ in 2022. Photo: Paramount+ … [+] ©2021 Paramount+. All Rights Reserved. *SCREEN GRAB*
Here’s Microsoft executive and Halo producer Kiki Wolfkill on freeing the Halo show from its source material:
“Early on, we were thinking about doing something that could tie very closely with the game,” Wolfkill said. “What we were finding was, trying to verbatim stay with everything that’d come before wasn’t serving the medium. It also wasn’t serving the creative teams and their need to express a story and build the world through their eyes.”
And Wolfkill on the controversial decision to remove Chief’s helmet and show his face in the series:
“You will see his face. For some people, it’s been a moment 20 years in the making, and for other people it is something that feels very hard to imagine. We absolutely respect both sides of that fence, those who really want to see Chief’s face and those who really don’t. But for the nature of this story, it felt really important to connect with the Master Chief in a different way, and that meant showing the face.”
Finally, one more Wolfkill quote on the new, non-game-like appearance of Cortana, even though she’s still being played by Jen Taylor:
“She has to feel like a real AI, a real hologram, and be a character that real people are acting against… That was really the impetus in designing her – how do we make her feel very tangible in this Halo world?”
Combine all these things and something just feels a bit…off about the approach coming into this adaptation. We just had a whole series about The Mandalorian, a brilliant, badass character who doesn’t need to remove his helmet 99% of the time (and probably never did, to be honest). Game fans are not the most excited about the concept of a team of writers rewriting Halo lore to suit their purposes. And I’m not even sure what Cortana needing to feel like a “real AI, a real hologram” even means, as the main point of criticism after her reveal was that in the early footage she did not really look like the hologram she’s supposed to in the games.
And hey, there’s even a Wolfkill quote for the Chevy Tahoe:
“For people who haven’t spent time in the game industry, there’s no such thing as too fast a shot to notice something. We have to assume every single frame will be examined.” The shot of the Tahoe, it’s said, is supposed to be there for a reason.
Sigh. Yeah, I don’t know man. Let’s see how this goes.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.