- The Halo live-action TV series is one of the most anticipated video game live-action adaptations ever
- It follows the “Silver Timeline” which diverges from the base games, but the creators say it should still capture the spirit of Halo
- The pilot episode shows decent fight scenes and establishes its characters well
Here is a spoiler-free advanced preview of the first episode of the much-anticipated Halo TV series, premiering on Paramount+ on Thursday, March 24.
The TV Series Is Airing Soon
The Halo TV series is probably the most anticipated video game-related cinematic piece in recent times, and this comes beside the fact that many video game adaptations have not been a great success in the past. Hopes are that Paramount has poured in enough resources into the series that it will not fall flat on its face. And with Steven Spielberg being one of its executive producers, this might indeed be the case.
However, one must not come to the Halo TV series expecting a 1 to 1 adaptation of the games. In fact, it follows what’s called The Silver Timeline, which is to say it’s different but also the same. It establishes its own continuity separate from that of the games and their various tie-ins like other live-action films and books.
As the name of the premiere episode “Contact” alludes to, the United Nations Space Command is still very aware of the threat posed by the fanatical, theocratic space empire known as The Covenant. Perhaps we will see the infamous “Fall of Reach” and the events of the original Halo trilogy adapted over the course of the series, but it’s too early to tell if that’s the case.
What about the Characters?
Longtime Halo fans will easily recognize immediately some of the characters, most notably the 7-foot-tall John-117, a.k.a. Master Chief, played by Pablo Schreiber. He has his fireteam co-members Soren-066, played by Bokeem Woodbine, as well as Kate Kennedy's Kai-125.
Other familiar faces are the Spartan program’s director Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone), as well as Captain Jacob Keyes (Danny Sapani), his daughter Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray), as well as Admiral Margaret Parangosky (Shabana Azmi). Interestingly, the first episode also shows a side of Halo we haven’t seen much, which is the point of view of the Insurrectionists in the face of Yerin Ha’s Kwan Ha Boo. The Spartan program was originally designed to create super soldiers to fight the various insurgent forces all around UNSC colonies.
We also have a glimpse of the mysterious Makee (Charlie Murphy) that hints at the deeper changes to a familiar story.
The Show’s Special Effects and CGI
When having a militaristic world like Halo one has to set the tone for the show. And what better way to do so than to start with a combat scene between the alien invaders and the Spartans to show both sides' strength and superhuman abilities. The show features many iconic weapons and vehicles from the games and even shows liberal use of first-person perspectives.
However, despite the effects not being too bad, there just seems to be something not quite right. The Covenant characters and tech suffer from lackluster CGI, making them stand out awkwardly from the environment. The Spartans also seem a bit “unreal” and floaty, but maybe this was deliberately done in order to show they are anything BUT normal humans. One could be excused if they are concerned about how the show will continue to express its action-heavy scenes.
What about the Plot So Far?
The story seems to be rather decently explained so far. Once the guns go silent, it quickly begins the humanization of John, a thing Halo 4 tried to do. We get a glimpse into John’s past and his thoughts as a soldier created just for war. His team members are also shown to be more loyal to one another than to the military machine that created them.
Schreiber's task is not easy, considering he has to convey the emotion of a 7-foot-tall soldier clad in a third of a ton of reinforced titanium. Despite that, his voice and posture are enough to always make it clear what John is thinking and feeling at any given time.
Another good point of the episode is the representation of Dr. Halsey. Her unusual status within the UNSC is well pointed out. Hiding many dark secrets, the brilliant scientist is shown to not be very trusted by her military peers, and the series gives us little reason to trust her either. McElhone conveys the feeling of a somewhat sinister scientist very well.
The elephant in the room is perhaps Makee, as it shows how the Halo TV series’ story diverges from the games. The story has a fast start, suggesting that the creators have taken into account the fact that most fans have at least a basic familiarity with the franchise. There is not a lot of time wasted on exposition or world-building.
Although the pilot episode features somewhat lackluster combat scenes, at least the aesthetic of the source marital is well captured. The episode also seems to have good pacing, immediately pointing out that its plot will be somewhat different from the base games. It is definitely not a 1 to 1 adaptation of the games but has a lot of potential.