In the 26th century, a Spartan super soldier fights the alien alliance known as the Covenant and they battle for an ancient artifact.
Spoiler Level: Medium
I didn’t have my hopes up for anything good to come of another series or movie based on a video game. We so often get some good action, with terrible story, bad acting and incoherent stories. I was very happily surprised in what we got from Halo. Based on the revered xBox video game of the same name, the story involves the war between the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the “Covenant” a theocratic alliance of alien races who believe mankind to be an affront to their gods. Although inspired by the games, executive producer Kiki Wolfkill informs that “the series is a standalone story that takes place within its own Silver Timeline and that is inspired by the game franchise rather than a continuation, adaptation or prequel”. This allows the two Halo canons to evolve individually and be better suited to their rightful media.
The first episode gives us some brief exposition, but only enough to understand the world the series takes place in. The UNSC are fighting against insurrectionist colonies that want to be free of the UNSCs control and greed. The first part of the episode takes place on Madrigal, a planet rich in a resource that the UNSC wants, but home to a group of insurrectionists. Before we get too attached to any of the characters on the planet, a group of advanced aliens attack and begin ruthlessly killing everyone on the planet. As the fight rages, four “Spartan”, enhanced super-soldiers with no memories of who they were, arrive and join the battle. Lead by Master Chief 117, aka “John” (Pablo Schreiber), the Spartans investigate what the Covenant aliens were doing on the planet and discover an artifact, that reacts to John when he touches it. This is of interest to the UNSC scientist and politicians who, even though they have been battling the Covenant for years, still don’t know what it is they want.
I haven’t played Halo (I don’t have a game console, I know, I’m a neanderthal) so I have no preconceived notions of what the story is or should be. I just wasn’t expecting a world so rich in detail to be the basis of a series based on a video game. Soon after the episode begins, we get a hefty action sequence that is pretty graphic with a lot of people, including children, being killed. This is important in understanding the character of Kwan (Yerin Ha) and necessary to the storyline. As the plot progressed, I was struck by how beautifully well the conveyance of emotion was done without seeing the lead actors face, which is hidden by his armor. The body language and intonations in his delivery shows his confusion and conflict that arise within him after touching the artifact. It is subtle and yet powerful. Pablo does a great job both in the armor and when we do finally get to see his face (Yes, you do get to see his face, something that does not happen in the game from what I gather) retaining military stoicism, and yet still showing his inner turmoil. The rest of the actors are also superb in their character depictions, and I loved the diversity both in race and gender. Shabana Azmi as Admiral Margaret Parangosky goes against stereotypes and yet plays a great military leader, both strong and compassionate and Natascha McElhone as Dr. Catherine Halsey, is the classic scientist and advocate for the Spartans.
The production value is high, both in the look and feel of the worlds they have created, and the CGI is excellent for a television series. The aliens are very well rendered and believable. The storyline is intriguing with the plot being a multi layered tapestry of different factions wanting different things, all centering around the artifact and Master Chief 117. The dialogue flowed well and didn’t seem forced, it was well delivered and evoked the appropriate emotional responses from me. The action sequences were both exciting and dynamic. The music was wonderful adding polish to an already well done episode, heightening the action and conveying the appropriate mood for each scene.
There have been several series of late that have really drawn me in making it difficult to decide which series to follow at time of release, and which to binge watch at a later date. There is no question with Halo, if the first episode is any indication, I will be watching it each week.
Halo: Just Killing It
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Acting - 10/1010/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 10/1010/10