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Alex Garland’s Halo

Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

As Much as Possible, Stay True to the Source – There’s a prime example of a movie that disregarded this, and as a result, was met with scorn by fans of the game.  I’m talking about DoomDoom is the grand-daddy of first-person shooters.  Released in 1993, it rocketed upward in popularity and is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential games of all time. It had a very simple premise.  You play as an ass-kickin’, name-takin’, shoot first-ask questions later space marine stationed on Mars.  At a high-tech, ultra-secret installation research into teleportation between the planet’s two moons accidentally opens a portal to Hell (oops!), unleashing flesh-eating zombies and a veritable bestiary of demons.  You must venture into the fiery pits of Hell itself to close the portal and stop the spread of its fiendish denizens.  The movie based on Doom that was released in 2005 completely abandoned this idea, and instead used genetic research involving Martian remains as a sort of “deus ex machina” to mutate mild-mannered scientists into monstrosities that had to be eliminated with extreme prejudice by The Rock and Eomer from LOTR

Why did the writers make the change?  I can’t say for sure, but my guess would be that they felt the game’s premise was “too simple” for a major motion picture, and they needed to introduce a more complicated story with additional characters to make it “interesting”.  Or maybe they wanted to avoid the controversy that surrounded the game due to its heavy use of satanic imagery and high levels of violence and gore.  Regardless, the resulting movie while not unwatchable was a disappointment to be sure.  The good news for Halo fans is that by and large Garland’s script is not doomed to repeat such history.  It stays true to the plot and tone of the game.  Although it does take a few pitfalls in establishing Master Chief’s character, these missteps are minor and could be easily fixed.

Proper Casting is of Utmost Importance – Again, I have a movie in mind that didn’t follow this rule.  In the Super Mario Bros. film, the role of Luigi (a tall Italian with a mustache) went to John Leguizamo, a short Latin American who was clean-shaven for the movie!  Now, I have never seen this, and while I know it’s regarded as one of the worst video game adaptations ever, I’m not arguing that such status stems from one bit of miscasting.  But if they couldn’t even get that right, what does it say about the rest of the movie?

For Halo, the jury is still out on this one.  At one point there were rumors of Denzel Washington being considered for the role of Master Chief.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  No offense to Denzel, but this role is not for him.  Master Chief remains faceless in the games.  What establishes his character more than anything is his voice.  That voice is provided by Steve Downes, and I’ve included a cut scene from one of the games to provide some examples of what his voice sounds like:

Downes is the man who should provide the voice of Master Chief in a Halo movie.  Find some unknown actor to walk around in the suit and provide the physicality of the role, but Downes has to give Chief his voice.  He just has to.  Why?  Because he is Master Chief.  Let me explain, by way of example.  Who is Darth Vader?  I’d lay down money 9 out of 10 people will respond: James Earl Jones.  Who is Optimus Prime?  Again, those who know will say without missing a beat: Peter Cullen.  There’s a reason these men were hired for Revenge of the Sith and Transformers , respectively.  That reason is a very good one.  For millions of fans these men don’t just provide their characters with a voice, they are their characters.  Try to imagine someone else’s voice coming out of Vader’s mask between mechanical breaths.  Consider how much it would have sucked if some other voice besides Cullen’s came out of that giant fucking robot.  I would argue Transformers would not have been as well-received.  And if anyone had to utter that crappy dialogue at the end of Episode III, it just had to be Mr. Jones.  Sign Steve Downes to a deal.  Give the man whatever he wants; just make damn sure he is a part of this movie before moving forward.     

Do not Permit Uwe Boll Anywhere Near Production – I’m not joking here.  Given this man’s history, he should be barred from the set.  It’s no secret that Boll has a love of directing movies adapted from video games.  It’s also no secret that his efforts tend toward colossal failures of the critical, financial, and artistic kind.  He seems to effortlessly earn the derision of gamers and critics alike for his movies.  He’s directed three video game adaptations so far, two of which I listed at the beginning of this article, and he has plans to bring no less than half a dozen more to multiplexes.  Apparently the man can’t be stopped, even if his critics take him on in one-on-one boxing matches!

My advice would be to keep this man as far away from Halo’s production as possible.  I’m not sure the producers are taking things that far, but at least they weren’t stupid enough to approach him to direct.  Instead they went to Neil Blomkamp, a relative unknown so far most recognized for his work in visual effects; evidently he impressed the brass enough to get the job for Halo before stagnated.

Author: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

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