Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer
I imagine based on my own reaction that fans of the Halo games were cautiously excited when it was announced their beloved franchise was being developed into a major motion picture. Why cautiously excited? Well, consider BloodRayne, Doom, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., or Alone in the Dark. All are video games that have been adapted to movies, and pretty much all of them suck. Jaded cynicism gave way to optimism when Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine ) was hired to write the script, and Microsoft insisted on having a major role in the production. It seemed that maybe with Halo, the people who knew and loved it best (the developers) were going to get a say in how the resulting movie would be made. Then, when it was announced that Peter Jackson (LOTR, King Kong ) signed on as executive producer, I’m guessing gamers were wishing they hadn’t worn their favorite pair of white khaki pants the day it was announced (I know I was). Could it be possible? Could a video game as popular as Halo get a movie that wouldn’t disappoint? That could actually kick ass? But then, as so often happens, things went down the crapper. Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox both backed out leaving a Halo movie in development hell. So what would this movie have been like? CC2k got our hands on Alex Garland’s official Halo script, and your faithful Video Game Editor is here to give you a review of that script. Let’s charge ahead guns blazing, shall we?
The movie opens with a close-up of a military-green helmet with a face-plate and opaque gold visor. Reflected on that visor is an urban skyline that would look at home on Coruscant, with not one but two suns in the sky. And just when we expect Toto to turn to Dorothy and ask where the fuck she had taken him, the camera pulls back to reveal a large, humanoid figure encased in full body armor that same military-green color casually holding an assault rifle with enough stopping power to put a gleam in Charlton Heston’s beady eyes. Pulling back again the camera reveals a platoon of similarly outfitted soldiers in ranks behind the leader. All are Spartan super soldiers, the most advanced tactical “weapons” in humanity’s arsenal. All are looking to the sky where thousands of alien spacecraft begin to blot out the twin suns and slowly descend through the hazy atmosphere. What follows is the first major battle sequence of the movie as the Spartans engage in ferocious combat with several distinct species of alien life. Tall and imperial “Elites” lead battalions of smaller, ape-like “Grunts”, while pairs of massive “Hunters” operate as living tanks and launch devastating salvos. This battle scene is 60-cc of cinematic adrenaline, infused with equal parts first ten minutes of Gladiator and first twenty of Saving Private Ryan, with a sprinkling of Aliens for good measure, jabbed directly into your heart like that scene in Pulp Fiction. As the battle rages on, we are subject to a series of brutal scenes depicting the mighty Spartans dying in an assortment of equally horrible ways. From these personal scenes of war the movie cuts to a wide shot of the city burning, then to the two suns blazing in the sky, then to black. A caption appears:
“Year 2552. A coalition of alien species, the Covenant, are waging a genocidal holy war against mankind.”
“Mankind is losing.”
Replacing this is a tranquil vista of stars twinkling against the blackness of deep space, with a large gas-giant of a planet dominating the scene. Suspended in the forefront is a metallic ring that appears slender and delicate, but given the scale its circumference could encircle a small moon. Its interior surface resembles Earth, mostly covered in shades of green and brown, with blue bodies of water and white wisps of clouds. A word appears on screen near the structure:
I’ve got to admit, that’s a hell of an opening. This script has got some problems, but that opening sequence isn’t one of them. While it never occurs within the game, it is a great addition to introduce the conflict between the humans and Covenant, Master Chief (though not overtly – more on that later), and the centerpiece (and setting) of the film. From there the plot more faithfully follows that of the game, Halo: Combat Evolved. It isn’t an exact recreation, some elements and sequences are absent in the script, yet other things, such as supporting characters, are added by Garland that never existed within the game.
I can say with confidence that many fans of the Halo games are going to nit-pick this script from first page to last and decry every omission, every addition as crap and breath huge sighs of relief that this movie hasn’t gone into production yet (a few have begun already). While I think some of their criticisms are valid, I don’t think they are enough to declare Garland’s script a disaster by any means. I believe that with a few minor changes, this could make one hell of a Halo movie.