|Sci-Fi, Action, Drama
|Otto Bathurst, Jonathan Liebesman, Michael Bassett, Roel Reiné, Jet Wilkinson
|Pablo Schreiber (John-117, Master Chief), Natascha McElhone (Catherine Halsey), Yerin Ha (Kwan Ha), Charlie Murphy (Makee), Jen Taylor (Cortana), Shabana Azmi ( Margaret Parangosky), Kate Kennedy (Kai-125), Natasha Culzac (Riz-028), Bentley Kalu (Vannak-134) and others
|Amblin Television, 343 Industries, Showtime
Microsoft announced that Steven Spielberg started working on the first full-fledged series from the world of Halo in 2013, but fans of Master Chief had to wait a bit: Kyle Killen was chosen as a showrunner and screenwriter only in 2018, filming began a year later, but was suspended due to Covid-19. Finally, in March 2022, the long-suffering show came out on Paramount + and I’m not sure if there is reason to be happy.
Halo (TV series) is a good sci-fi about how humanity resists the onslaught of a religious-political union of alien races called Covenant, and at the same time continues to fight each other. Here is everything that fans of the game series are used to and expect: ancient artifacts of lost civilizations, genetically modified Spartan warriors, all key races of the Covenant, Dr. Halsey and Cortana AI, Warthogs, Condors and Banshee, MA5B and needle gun, even familiar sound of shields charging and user interface from the game are there, as John-117 himself, Master Chief in all its glory. However, Halo is almost absent in the series.
Let’s start with the fact that we have before us an alternative version of the Halo universe, which, although it takes something from the canon, interprets it quite uniquely. The colonies’ struggle for independence from the United Nations Space Command continues in parallel with the global war of humanity with the Covenant, with the rebels losing because the UNSC acts as harshly as possible, using punitive Spartan operations, propaganda and intimidation against the rebel colonies. Murders, kidnappings, human rights abuses and experiments, dirty political games and the desire to rule with an iron fist. The UNSC is in fact a military dictatorship that is very difficult to empathize with. You don’t even know who is worse here – Dr. Halsey (Natasha McElhone) who appears in the role of a classic Bond villain, a mad scientist who is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone, just to achieve the goal, or the command of the UNSC in the person of Admiral Paragonsky (Shabana Azmi) and Captain Keyes (Danny Sapani), who agree to turn a blind eye to Halsey’s methods as long as they do not pose a threat to the CCN.
One could, of course, side with the rebels, who became angels in the series (in the game universe, they gladly detonated nuclear bombs in peaceful neighborhoods), but the only center of resistance shown to us by the show’s creators is destroyed in the first half of the first episode, the last surviving rebel Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) is almost immediately taken away from Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and given a separate, long and frankly boring storyline, all in order to show in a few seconds that the shamans of the rebellious tribes communicate with one of the Monitors. All of Kwan’s hardships after the first series could be safely cut and the show would have lost nothing but timing.
But this is an auxiliary story arch, the main one turned out to be more successful, especially if you are not a die-hard fan and can survive the fact that Cortana never chose Master Chief as his partner and instead of using a chip to connect to his armor, was loaded directly to the Spartan’s brain, and John himself spends almost half of his time without a suit. The latter fact is explained by the fact that the writers decided to leave all the main events related to the Halo, Covenant, Forerunners and the Flood (the latter is not mentioned at all) for later, and focused on the connection with the search for artifacts that will show the way to Halo, and John’s self-digging, where after interacting with the artifact the program broke down and he began to reminisce about his life before Dr. Halsey turned it into a murder machine.
However, I still do not understand why to regularly force Chief to take off Mjolnir and have extensive dialogues. Otherwise it would be difficult to show the human side of the character? Well, I don’t know, in the Mandalorian they somehow did it successfully. And here we got some completely new, unknown, sometimes hysterical, having lost his famous will of steel, John. Sometimes his behavior is absolutely cringey. For example, he has sex with a prisoner of war. In her cell. While Cortana is watching.
Against the background of Master Chief, other members of the Silver team look much better. Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac) and Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu) are just classic silent Spartans, but my personal favorite is Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy). She is also going through the process of returning human emotions, and the character is perfectly revealed in a few lines and a couple of bright scenes. John fails to do the same for all eight episodes.
There are a few original characters in Halo who were not present in the games, but it is difficult to talk about them without spoiling the few really interesting plot moves available in the series. For the same reason, I will not mention Cortana (Jen Taylor) once again. She is a bit unusual here, but it is interesting to watch the development of her relationship with Master Chief.
Could I advise Halo to fans of military sci-fi? With ease, the series is well shot, moderately exciting, with modern graphics, dynamic battle scenes and a few interesting characters. Would I advise it to the fans of the game? No, except for the first and last series, and even then as a fan service. However, there is hope that in the second season the situation will improve a bit and John will stop digging up the past, get to Halo and a normal action will start. And if at the same time it will do without insurgents wearing ragged clothes, it will be great.