Thursday, 23 May 2013

Rant - Why Spielberg Producing the Halo TV Series Is Not Necessarily a Good Thing

At the Xbox ONE Reveal Event, Microsoft announced the next iteration of Master Chief would not be in a game but rather on the small screen, brought to you by Steven Spielberg. This has been mostly met with great enthusiasm but part of me can't help but be sceptical, disappointed and even slightly worried.

On the one hand, the mythology behind the Halo games is a rich and immense as those of say Star Wars or Star Trek (not as popular or relevant perhaps, but still pretty important) and as a result a film has been in the pipeline for a long while now. Going back a few years now, Peter Jackson signed on as producer for the new Halo game signing on newbie Neill Blomkamp to direct, a move that went pretty much under the radar. Financial difficulties and lack of interest in the movie pretty much stranded it in development hell (even after a really impressive live-action teaser on what we could expect) and Blomkamp went on to direct the awesome District 9, a move that was widely regarded as being the right choice.

Anyway, it's 2013 now and for some reason, despite appearing to put a lot of work into the original idea, Jackson no longer seems to be invloved in live-action Halo and instead they have turned to one of the greatest directors in the world to oversee the Master Chief and his adventures. So why am I so worried?

There's no denying that Spielberg is a film-making God. His movies have huge levels of humanity and emotion to them, he has a keen eye for action (especially military action) and he is responsible for some of the greatest franchises in history. But that doesn't mean he doesn't screw up every now and then.

Spielberg has created some of the finest works of cinematic science fiction, films which to this day are still being channelled. But he has also churned out some really disappointing movies, all of which had infinite potential for greatness (and all are his most recent endeavours).
A.I., the film Kubrick never directed, was picked up by Spielberg but the result was a film far too ambitious for its own good and the result is pretty largely forgotten.
War of the Worlds features some amazing set-pieces, a chilling role by Tim Robbins and a decent update on the HG Wells story, but it lacked any real punch and had one of the most pointless Hollywood endings for any movie to come out that year (had Robbie died the film might have been able to put in that emotional kick it was lacking, but no he had to survive).

His last forays into television haven't exactly been very promising either (with the exception of Falling Skies). Terra Nova began with huge promise but soon fell flat very very quickly and became a real bore to watch. Likewise with The River, which in the end never really went anywhere. Some part of me feels this is how the Halo TV series will end up.

I would love to see a Halo-fied version of Band of Brothers or The Pacific, but I highly doubt that will happen due to budgetary reasons. The forth Halo game, while still only appealing to the hardcore fans, managed to add a very human and very emotional storyline to the franchise in the guise of the relationship between the Master Chief and his AI counterpart Cortana and I'm guessing that it's this level of drama that Microsoft hope to cash in on, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it needs to be done right.

Spielberg has the capacity for high drama but we have to remember he's only producing which means that the main writing and story direction will be through someone else. Nothing has yet been released regarding plot or even setting, so this rant could all have (hopefully) been for nothing, but for the time being I am not exactly convinced with Microsoft's big announcement.

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