Today: February 20, 2024
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo Season 1, Episode 1, streaming on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Adrienn Szabo/Paramount+

Halo: Season One

Plot: Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier, defends humanity from the alien Covenant in the 26th century.
Release Date: 14 November
Format: Digital | DVD | Blu-ray | 4K UHD
Directors: Otto Bathurst, Roel Reiné, Jonathan Liebesman, Jessica Lowrey
Cast: Pablo Schreiber, Jen Taylor, Natascha McElhone
BBFC Certificate: 15
Running Time: 456 mins
Review By: Samuel Love
Genre: Action, Science Fiction

Bottom Line: Halo’s debut season is epic in every sense of the word, and inspires a lot of confidence and excitement for whatever is to come in season two and beyond.
Rating: 5

Adapting a beloved video game series for the screen is always a risky move. Not only are you going up against the age-old curse of game-to-screen adaptations, you’re also going to war with a fanbase who will pick apart every single character motivation, story beat, and setting to make sure it doesn’t “ruin their childhood”, etc – and they’ll be bloody vocal about it if they feel that it has. Development for a Halo TV series began in 2013, and finally debuted almost ten years later in 2022 to unsurprisingly mixed reviews. The question is: is Halo good?

Yes. Yes, it bloody is. I’m going to just jump right in with that, because the criticisms I’ve seen for Halo have often bordered on petulant. Much like Disney’s recent Lightyear, waves of unfair hate battered against Halo before it even launched, and those who had already made their mind up stuck to their plasma guns. But the series is actually an incredibly solid sci-fi action romp, packed with stellar performances and genuinely exciting set-pieces. Pablo Schreiber is Master Chief, and I’ll die on this hill.

The first season of Halo does, at times, suffer under the weight of exposition; adapting a lore so detailed for new viewers is a difficult task that series developers Kyle Killen and Steven Kane had to undertake. But newcomers to Master Chief’s battles will quickly settle into the journey, and embark on a truly enjoyable 9-episode adventure that rivals other recent sci-fi shows like The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Discovery. While Halo carries the stigma of being a game-to-screen adaptation (and all the negative expectations that come along with it), the assured series stands confidently as its own thing and shakes off the shackles of its long-fabled curse of video game adaptations.

Now of course, the series does take liberties with the source material and change things around. Find me an adaptation that doesn’t. I would remind these criticisers to chill out and just be grateful we’ve got a Halo series at all, especially after almost ten years waiting since the initial announcement. There’s so much here that works, and the action sequences – although perhaps fewer in number than one may expect – are absolutely killer. As someone who grew up with Master Chief’s early adventures on PC and the original Xbox, the emotional nostalgia I felt seeing this world come to life was genuinely tear-inducing. Sure, it might get some aspects of the lore wrong – but other elements, it expands upon. It all evens out in the end.

I loved this series. It looks and sounds absolutely incredible – especially in 4K – and flows fantastically. The characters are all well-developed and their world feels alive. There is a genuine sense of thrill throughout, and some genuinely funny moments alongside real heart. It’s really hard to criticize the series beyond the easy digs of, “oh, well, in the games it was different…”.

Halo’s debut season is epic in every sense of the word, and inspires a lot of confidence and excitement for whatever is to come in season two and beyond.

The Showtime-Produced Epic Series Arrives on Digital, DVD, Blu-ray™, 4K Ultra HD™ and Limited-Edition 4K Ultra HD™ SteelBook® on November 14

 

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