SWSW 2022: ‘Halo’ First Impressions From A Non-Gamer

by Gary Catig
halo 1
Photo: Paramount+

Halo is a much anticipated television series arriving on Paramount+ this March 24th. It is based on the iconic video game series of the same name, which has garnered numerous fans over the past twenty years. But how approachable is it for someone only vaguely familiar with the franchise?

The show draws viewers in early into the premiere with a gripping battle scene. The eerie and uncomfortable silence before the assault effectively builds the tension before the chaos ensues. The action sequences are exciting, fierce, and unafraid to turn dark. In the opening twenty minutes, so much is established.

We see how much of a threat the antagonists, the Covenant, are and their levels of ruthlessness. On the other side, we witness the imposing super soldier Spartans in action with their precise attacks but lack of empathy. There is also a glimpse of the political machinations and the conflict between the outer colonies and the main government, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC).

Once you’re given time to catch your breath, some of the other main narratives are set up. Though the main directive of the UNSC is to defeat the Covenant, those within the organization have different ideas of carrying it out. There is some intriguing maneuvering and manipulation — particularly by the creator of the Spartan program, Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone), as well as various entanglements and connections that have the potential to introduce additional drama.

Photo: Paramount+

However, the main focus of Halo is on our hero, Spartan-117, also known as Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber). He embarks on a journey of self-discovery after an encounter unlocks hidden visions and changes his perspective. The initial visions merely scrape the surface of his mysterious past in the first two episodes and it is a voyage worth riding shotgun along to discover what makes him so special.

Outside the storylines, the show has outstanding production value developing an expansive world of diverse locales. They all have a sense of character all their own, from the desert landscapes of Madrigal, to the almost neural network homebase of the Covenant, to the scoundrel safe haven of Rubble. In addition, the CGI used to create the aliens is high quality and on the same level as big budget films. I know many of the visuals have references to draw from in the source material, but they are impressive nonetheless.

Halo is an ambitious project and is on the right track to fulfilling its potential. The combination of intense action, captivating plots, characters and mysteries, and remarkable world building and aesthetics will attract casual viewers into the series.

Halo premieres March 24 on Paramount+.

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