Halo Episode 1 Review: When the name Halo is mentioned, my mind instantly goes to the classic video game series. I have only played Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, but couldn't get my hands on the other games because I never really had an XBOX, but still those games were quite spectacular. While of course you play a game for the gameplay, Halo pulled you in with its wonderful world, themes, soundtrack and characters, especially that of Master Chief and Cortana. Where does the Halo show exactly land then? Well, right in the middle. Halo The Series: Over 265 Script Drafts Were Written For Pablo Schreiber's TV Adaptation of the Hit Videogame Series.

Halo follows a 26th century war between the UNSC and the Covenant, a military alliance of many species of aliens. Right at the center of it, we have Master Chief, a weapon of war, a Spartan. The show isn’t connected to any previous Halo media or rather even a continuation of the series. Sure it can be considered as a prequel, but not even that, rather it’s in its own continuity.

Pablo Schreiber takes on the role of Master Chief. Now he really stands out in Halo because well, it’s Master Chief. Schreiber for the most part does a really good job at playing him. Of course it doesn’t top Steve Downes iconic performance from the game, he still does a good enough job at portraying this character. Not to mention Master Chief’s suit looks downright amazing. Fans for the most part I think will be satisfied with his portrayal, but will take an issue with his characterisation.

Master Chief in the games isn’t known for being talkative. Rather he talks when need be and isn’t at all times prone to showing emotions. For the first half of the episode, that’s the Master Chief you get, but then it immediately starts detracting from it. I don’t really know how to feel about that given this is only the first episode, but this way of humanising Master Chief immediately felt weird. Hopefully they stick the landing going forward.

Watch The Trailer:

The designs of the Covenant look great though. They feel like they are ripped off straight from the games and I liked seeing that. The CGI on them looked quite decent as well, although sometimes they were a miss, more on that later, but yeah overall they looked fine. What I didn’t like about them was how a human is supposedly leading this huge alien military group. That never was a thing in the games, and it feels like the creators are trying to add a human dynamic, and it just feels stale and done before.

Now the actual problem with the show here lies with the fact that it feels bland and very formulaic. We have another show where a guy under the mask is spending his time trying to protect a child named Kwan Ha, portrayed by Yerin Ha. Has been done with The Mandalorian, and over here it just makes it feel detached from the games.

While I do appreciate seeing the Spartan program at UNSC being more fleshed out, from a tonal standpoint it just feels disconnected from the games. Natascha McElhone does a good job at portraying Dr Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, so I would rather the show spend time exploring her dynamic with Chief rather than whatever they are trying to do, because Halsey is directly connected to Chief and understands him. Shabana Azmi also has a small role in the first episode, albeit it looks like it can be important. Her character is Admiral Margaret Paragonsky who really comes off as quite cold and intense. Hopefully we get more of her in the upcoming episodes.

It isn't even able to nail down some of its fan service properly. Sure it has the shield boot up sound, the guns, the Spartan armours, the ships, etc, but it still majorly lacks in so many departments. For one the soundtrack, Halo is known for its soundtrack. That theme has become an icon in the gaming industry, not to mention how Marty O’Donnell’s drums gave the games so much of its personality, so it was a disappointment to see hardly any of that soundtrack used here.

You get the classic Halo theme, sure, but even that’s remixed to the point where it doesn’t really evoke anything much. Gone are the iconic drums and it's replaced by a clichéd sci-fi track that just makes Halo seem like any other sci-fi show ever. Hopefully Sean Callery’s score going forward can evoke the classic feels of the franchise. Halo Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere on Paramount+.

With such a huge budget being spent over here as well, you would expect the show to look good at least, but no, it has this very domestic feeling to it. Even the CGI at times feels so smooth and weird. The cinematography is just bland and lifeless.


Pablo Schreiber

Covenant Designs


The Story

Production Value

Final Thoughts

Halo falls victim to the classic phase of trying to appeal to casual audiences and fans of the franchise, but fails at appealing either of them. Unless the future episodes arrange for a plotline where we can see Master Chief kick the Covenant’s butt, you’re better off sticking to the games. The first episode of Halo is streaming on Voot Select right now.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 24, 2022 05:12 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).