Halo TV series early review: 2 premiere episodes are an intriguing mess
At E3 2013, Steven Spielberg announced that he and Microsoft
Were planning to adapt Halo for a TV show. Nine games, nine years. A network switch, a lot of memes later, and Halo finally premiered. The Paramount Plus show debuted two episodes on SXSW. On Monday ahead of its wider streaming premiere on March 24.
From the start, the talent involved resisted calling it a faithful adaptation. Instead preferring to think of it as a world built around the Halo games. An interstellar war between religious aliens known as the Covenant and United Nations human space. Command. At the center of it, all are the Spartan soldier Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and the rebel Kwang Ha (Yerin Ha). Who are both at odds with the war going on around them. Only two episodes were shown to critics. And it’s hard to know exactly what Halo hopes to be at this stage. Especially as the franchise is going through its own self-assessment. But there are definitely a lot of things to draw on in the first two parts of the show. For example:
Is it halo or not halo?
Halo looks like an adaptation of a video game series. Made by someone who played several levels of it once in college. Or maybe he was just watching his friend play, he can’t remember exactly. There’s definitely a guy in the recognizable green armor there, and he’s definitely fighting aliens. But other than that, it’s a little blurry. There is some kind of relic, it may or may not have something to do with the ringworld. Which may be a weapon. It’s really hard to say.
This show is for people who have at best a superficial familiarity with games. There is little to no actual explanation of who or what is going on. So you better know the Master Chief and the Covenant. But it’s also not a show for people to know too much, because otherwise. You might get confused as to why none of this matches up with the history of games released in the last 20 years. This is a very tight window.
In other words, if your idea of a Halo guy in green armor doing space shit; congratulations, you finally have a Halo show. —Austin Goslin
More aliens, please
As my colleagues have already said, it is quite difficult to perceive these first two episodes. Halo and find a reason to keep going. Even for those who, like me, are more than willing to sign up for anything from 40 minutes to an hour as long as it involves some cool space shit. Unfortunately space shit in Halo? Subpar. Not every legendary. A real superheated plasma pistol, if you know what I mean.
What’s especially funny is how dedicated they are to making Halo armor and aliens look as accurate as possible when playing in an environment that doesn’t require the kind of imagination that Bungie games showcase. It’s all bronze and concrete corridors, and a few crowded space station sets that look like they’ve been put together from Spaceleftovers. Against this background, the impeccably recreated Master Chief’s armor looks extremely funny, and the Prophet of Mercy looks ridiculously caricatured, like the Annoying Orange himself just appeared in a regular TV show. Elites have also been redesigned a bit to appear bulkier, like lower-jawed linebackers rather than emaciated warriors. All this could be in any sci-fi series. —Joshua Rivera
The CBS of it all might be a feature, not a bug
Trailers for Halo made one thing clear to fans:
Paramount Plus’ path to the material will be different from Game of Thrones, Witcherand other giant series that define the television era. Halo looks like maritime police, criminal minds, and other CBS content littering the platform – which would annoy people who wanted an epically massive franchise to get a $300 million per season treatment.
But consider me warming up before choosing. In an era when live-to-video action movies can pull off smarter stunts than Hollywood spectacular blockbusters, and when digestible hard-working shows are drying up, the decision to make Halo a real CBS show can benefit in the long run. The story is a bit fuzzy at first, but one can imagine Halo crashing into Special Forces mold, or even becoming truly insane in Paramount Plus mode.” Evil. Neither show was constrained by budget or the traditional one-hour drama aesthetic that had come to define network television.
In any case, it helped the characteristic sides of these stories become more related,
And the genre-forming elements became popular. Is not Halo the show I was expecting but it could be Halo a show I keep watching in the hope that I’ll get hooked on the characters and low-key drama of the week’s plot of it all? There’s also room for being complete trash and still entertaining; shows how Babylon 5, Handyman, Xena, and those message-New generation track show flourished in mainstream television mode. Maybe Halo too? There’s enough character-based story chatter and adequate production design to think it’s possible. —Matt Patches
Master Chief bears the brunt of bad writing
The Master Chief has always been a subtle character; all his work is by design.
He is taciturn, deadly, and gets down to business. There might be a joke in there, but basically, he’s there to be with our point of view, so he doesn’t take many risks because of his personality. In the pilot episode Halo, he does something he has never done before: he ignores the order. But without a broader knowledge of Halo, it’s hard to know who we’re supposed to think he was up to this point. A dutiful soldier, sure, but everything about him (and his emotional journey) is told to us, not traced through his actions. Almost as quickly as he was introduced to the public, he was overwhelmed by a vision of ordinary life, and then a rebellion against the system that he (maybe?) enslaved all his life.
Nowhere in it do we get an idea of who he cares about, and the sci-fi story he leads feels as generic as he does. There is little urgency or color in the world that balances out the wooden mannerisms of the Master Chief. When he takes off his helmet, he is not a mutated child soldier, but just a guy. Halo“Master Chief” is made up of tough dialogue and tormented looks, but the pain behind it is lost in translation. —Zosha Millman
Episode 2 shows the promise
I think so Halo best served as a series because the show is not adapted exactly to the games. I do not want to retell frame by frame what I have already seen or read. I want to love Halo in a new way and live where it was not possible before. So while the first episode was a little lackluster, the second episode actually got a little better. I think the Master Chief is really one of the least interesting characters to Halo deal with; as a longtime Halo player and book reader, I know many about the master chief. I’m most interested in the new characters – I want to learn more about the politics in Madrigal and the chaos in The Wreckage.
The world of The Rubble, a renegade society built from asteroids, is more vibrant and darker than anything in the pilot. I appreciate seeing a part of the world of Halo that I hadn’t seen before and Bokeem WoodbineGhostbusters: Afterlife) is brilliant as Soren-066, a former Spartan who escaped from a training camp as a child. Another thing is that in the second episode if I remember correctly, there are no scenes through the Spartan vision. There’s a lot of that first-person video game point of view in the first episode, and it’s a confusing decision. —Nicole Carpenter
They Picked the Wrong Halo Soundtrack
Anyone who has ever been around Halo knows what the soundtrack sounds like. This theme song and its subdued angelic “ooh” choir instantly take you right back to the loading screen. Although this iconic number is heard at least once in the first two episodes of Halo, it’s an uphill battle and not just playing over the credits to really cheer us up. —ZM