TL;DR – This is a very definition of a mixed bag, with some promise shown, but also many issues.
Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.
Halo Review –
I am what you would call an agnostic when it comes to the Halo video games. I didn’t grow up with an Xbox (or PlayStation if you are about to go video game console wars in my comments), so Master Chief was someone I had a vague knowledge about but not someone I cared about. Since then, I have watched the first couple of games streamed, and I get the appeal, even if the narrative is now a bit dated with time. I forward this all right from the start, so you know where I am coming from with this review and before I start hacking chunks of this apart.
So to set the scene, it is the year 2552, and the human race has spread across the stars, but it has been fraught with division. On the planet Madrigal, designated a Tier 4 Heavy Water Extraction Planet, the locals have been fighting a war of independence from the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) for an age. However, one day as some kids from a local outpost, including the leader’s daughter Kwan Ha Boo (Yerin Ha), go out into the woods, they stumble across not the UNSC and their feared Spartans, but something so much worse. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Usually, I would start with something good before diving into my criticisms in a review like this. However, today, given the nature of the show, I think we will approach it in reverse. One area where they very much dropped the ball was in the lore. At the start, I did have someone high hopes given the first moments was setting up the insurrectionists, then the Covenant, and then the Spartans. It mainly used realistic dialogue and actions to let the audience get the groundwork. However, while it started strong, it soon floundered like a pelican that failed the landing. Every moment we were on Reach felt like an eternity of awfulness. I didn’t care for the characters, I didn’t care for the politics, I didn’t care for the intrigue, and I am all about that intrigue. It is like the show actively chose to grind to a halt every time they cut away from Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), and it is a baffling choice.
Where things were more mixed was in the production. There was a good use of practical sets with digital extensions, something I did not mind at all. I know some people have mentioned that it looked cheap, but I didn’t mind it because it is keeping with a style of Sci-fi that I grew up with. While visually, the Covenant look at least on-par with their appearances in the video games, it was clear that more work needed to go into them in the action scenes. The Brutes are well meant to be brutes, yet whenever they were on screen, it never felt weighty, like a floatiness to them that should not be there. Finally, with the soundscape, I think they did an excellent job recreating the background sounds from the games, like how all the weapons sound. However, the musical score was just dull. Like the recent Uncharted movie, they feel almost afraid of the thematic weight that the musical scores have from the games, even though they are one of the game’s most vital components. There was a hint of it in places, but mostly a missed opportunity.
If we have had the bad and the mixed, it is now time to talk about what I liked, and what I liked was more of the potential than everything else. To begin with, I am not attached to the original Halo story, so I have no issue with them changing that up, so it has a lot of room to move. On this front, I like how the story between Master Chief and Yerin progressed throughout the episode. Having Master Chief question his origin right from the start is a good way of putting the accelerator on the story. One of the significant issues with a live-action remake of Halo is that the spartan suit will always look like it was cosplayed because history played it that way. With this in mind, while I know that the Mandalorian probably had a bit of a role in getting this show green-lit, I am glad they bucked the tradition of the games and showed Master Chief’s face.
In the end, do we recommend Halo: Contact? Welllll, hmmmmm. Look, I think this was a great or even good episode of TV. However, there were aspects that I did like, and knowing where the story might go, if they could pull that off, it could be fascinating.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Halo yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Halo
Directed by – Otto Bathurst,
Written by – Kyle Killen and Steven Kane
Created by – Kyle Killen and Steven Kane
Based on – Halo by Bungie & 343 Industries
Production/Distribution Companies – Showtime, 343 Industries, Amblin Television & Paramount+
Starring – Pablo Schreiber, Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha, Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy, Danny Sapani, Jen Taylor, Bokeem Woodbine & Natascha McElhone with Jamie Beamish, Burn Gorman, Julian Bleach, Ryan McParland & Jung Hwan Gong