Blu-ray Review: Halo (Season One)

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

When I was a kid in the Atari 2600 age, there wasn’t much backstory or forward story on most videogames. Pac-Man was a yellow circle with a mouth that ate dots in a maze and was chased by ghosts. That’s it. Donkey Kong had an Italian guy running up girders to save a woman from a gorilla. Asteroids was a spaceship that attacked asteroids. There didn’t need to be much story since the average game lasted maybe five minutes before I died three ties. But as gaming consoles and home computers grew more powerful, the games became to get more complicated in game play and story elements. Videogames quickly began to have more complicated scripts than films and TV shows. The graphic resolution made a player feel like they were controlling a real film. People could disappear for days to play a video game. Back in 2001, Halo was launched as a game for the XBox system. Players were Master Chief, a heavily armed super-soldier on Halo, a ring-shaped planet. The goal was to hunt down aliens. The game quickly became a sensation. After nearly 20 years, Halo is now a TV series with Master Chief at the middle of an epic adventure.

Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 (The Wire‘s Pablo Schreiber) and his Spartan unit Silver Team arrive on the planet Madrigal to battle The Covenant. This is a group of non-human creatures who are looking to wipe out humanity from the universe. They nearly eradicate humans from Madrigal as Master Chief only discovers a single teenager Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) as a survivor of the attack. He also finds a Forerunner keystone relic. while touching it, the device unlocks memories that had been hidden from him. On a different planet Dr. Catherine Halsey (Californication’s Natascha McElhone) is digging deep into an AI program called Cortana (which was the help program on my old Windows based smartphone). Admiral Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) doesn’t like her methods and clashes with the scientist. Because Kwan was part of an insurrectionist group, Master Chief is ordered to execute her. But his contact with the keystone has changed him. He does the unthinkable and defies orders and goes rogue. He wants to find out the truth about his past and what the future should hold for him.

Halo is an engrossing science fiction series. They made the show so it almost feels like you’re watching someone better than you play the game. The CGI effects have the texture of the latest installment of the game. There’s a mix of the plot scenes with the first-person shooter element. The good news is the talking scenes are a bit more elaborate and emotional than the exposition experienced in the games. They’ve put together a fine cast including a guest appearance from Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey). Pablo Schreiber is able to bring a lot to a character who’s often covered in armor and a mask. He’s more than just an action figure here. This first season is 9 episodes of various lengths. You’ll want to take it all in on a lazy weekend when you’re burned out from playing videogames.

The video is 2.00:1 anamorphic. The episodes look great. There’s a 4K UHD of the series if you want to upgrade the resolution. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. You’ll hear battles swirl around your TV room. The episodes are subtitled.

Halo The Series Declassified is included for each episode. Sydnee Goodman hosts the series about the series. She interviews cast and crew. There’s plenty of talk about both the show and the videogame. If you’re not familiar with the videogame, you can get caught up on the elements that lurked inside the gaming console. It is best to watch these after you’ve finished the episode since there’s plenty of plot reveals. The episodes are about 30 minutes long.

Dissecting the Battle of Madrigal (10:01) goes into the opening fight that launched the series. How did they go after the Covenant? We get to see what the physical effects were before the CGI effects were composited into the frame. There did have explosions on the set.

The World of Halo (8:49) goes into how when the game arrived in 2001, it established itself as an interactive science fiction universe. They were happy to adapt the series to a TV series instead of cram it into a 2-hour movie.

The Culture of the Covenant (9:43) goes into the bad guys. They talk about adapting the character designs from the various games into the television version.

Adapting Halo (13:08) has the production designer discuss the huge undertaking of bringing the massive worlds from the game onto the screen.

Becoming Spartans (8:06) lets Pablo Schreiber discusses playing a role where every fan of the game has already played him in first person shooter mode. How does he add a bit more to the character of Master Chief? The cast did a week of military training before the first day of production.

Creating the Costumes of Halo (9:20) shows off the massive wardrobe department. They have to create clothes for various worlds. There’s talk of the fighting uniforms too. They had a bit of freedom working on outfits without making everything look like the game.

Weapons and Vehicles of Halo (10:20) gets deep into the toys put together by the props department. They have to work with the wardrobe department to make sure the weapons work with the uniforms.

The Making of Cortana (4:56) lets us meet the actress behind the A.I. character.

The Lake of Eternal Life: A Song From Halo’s Score (2:44) is a music video showing how it was created and worked into the scene.

Seven Art Cards that are suitable for framing.

Paramount presents Halo: Season One. 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. Boxset Contents: 9 episodes on 5 Blu-ray discs. Rating: Not Rated. Release Date: November 15, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.