Halo review: Paramaount’s adaptation of one of the world’s most popular video games gets most things right in the first two episodes. The show streams in India on Voot Select.
It’s an odd feeling. A distinct kind of goosebump-inducing excitement – when you’re watching something you’ve grown up with, be it a book, comic, cartoon or game, come alive on screen in live-action. Something that’s felt like it’s partly lived in your imagination suddenly feels almost…real.
During the exhilarating, show-making opening action set piece of the new Halo series –the long-awaited, long-delayed live-action adaptation of one of the most beloved game franchises of all time–we see a small settlement on the planet Madrigal under siege. The invaders are the ruthless alien race known as the Covenant (towering, armoured, beast-like figures made up of CGI which ranges from impressive to serviceable). The Covenant warriors go around massacring, laser-sword-stabbing and shooting everyone in sight (the show thankfully doesn’t shy away from or skirt over the violence).
Just as it seems like all hope is lost, a ship appears overhead, out of which leaps a familiar green and gold figure, making one hell of a superhero landing amidst the action. It’s him, the Master Chief, closely followed by three more elite Spartan warriors. The four go about tearing through the Covenant invaders one at a time, with assault rifles, headshots, and general Spartan hand to hand badass-ery. It’s a heart-racing sequence that I’ve rewatched multiple times, and the impact remains. It’s also a sequence that tells us a lot about what we’re in for with this show. Based on the two episodes I’ve seen, The Halo series means business, and it’s here to deliver on the expansive scale, thrilling action and rich detailing that this world deserves.
Set in the 26th century, the sci-fi epic follows the Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), an elite soldier leading the charge in humanity’s ongoing war with the powerful alien race, the Covenant. To strengthen humanity’s chances, they invented the Spartans, genetically enhanced, emotionally suppressed super-soldiers in fancy super suits. For the uninitiated, you don’t need to know much beyond the fact that there is a badass in a cool suit with guns who goes up against hordes of ugly alien invaders who he has to blow up till kingdom come. And the show does well to keep the proceedings accessible to newcomers in search of a new massively-mounted sci-fi action blowout to get lost in.
But for loyal devotees, the series (created by Steven Kane and Kyle Killen) is full of detailing and familiar Halo-isms aimed at getting fans of the game to jump with joy. Whether it’s the flawless Spartan suits (from costume designer Giovanni Lipari) or familiar toys like the Magnum Pistol, Battle Rifle or the Covenant’s energy swords and Needlers. Right down to the Master Chief’s heads up display which gamers have lived in for hours on end. Perhaps my favourite was a series of all too familiar sounds that many of us have heard time and again – that urgent beeping that signifies that Chief’s shields are down and he needs to duck and cover. That is until we hear the reassuring whoosh of his shields having been successfully recharged meaning it’s time to dive back into the fight and inflict more Covenant-aimed carnage.