TV Review: Halo, 1×1, “Contact”

Chike Coleman reviews the series premiere of Halo, the video game adaptation now streaming on Paramount+.
User Rating: 6

I’ve never played a single match of Halo. I knew a lot about the game as sequels came out, but I have never played it. Watching this new Paramount+ television series, I’m not entirely sure I made the wrong decision. The series focuses on Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber), a United States space marine who carries out missions to stop an alien race called the covenant. During one mission gone wrong, the covenant destroys an entire colony except for one individual, Kwan (Yerin Ha). During moments of exploration after the battle, Master Chief and his squadron discover an alien artifact that physically affects Master Chief.

As mentioned before, Halo has never been a go-to video game for me. Still, the political bureaucracy touched upon in the pilot episode makes this series at least a little bit intriguing. Firefights are fantastic, but real human connection comes from what these people deal with both on the battlefield and off. The episode’s best moments are when the characters question their moral integrity. In the first episode, “Contact,” we aren’t introduced to many people aside from Master Chief, Kwan, and Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone). The most exciting thing about this show is the pathos the writers discuss Master Chief in his work as a marine contrasted with his childhood past. Audiences will want to know what it’s like living in a broken world in a broken system that doesn’t serve the poorest of the community.

Some things that I would like to see the writers examine are explanations about the military program’s creation. I want to know how Masterchief came to enlist in such a program. This bit of background gives the audience an idea about a person’s character rather than them just being a robotic soldier.

Halo has a shot at being better sci-fi than Foundation. That shot only comes when you thoroughly look at the soldiers in the broken system they serve and how that affects everyone and everything around them. This is where viewers will find the show’s heart if that’s the direction this show is going. I think I’m at a distinct advantage for reviewing this particular program, given that I have no solid history with its source. Kwan is portrayed wonderfully by actress Yerin Ha. I believed every moment of her heartbreaking portrayal. I’m very excited to see what adventures she goes on with Master Chief. Hopefully, with him now having a deeper understanding of how much his military service has affected him, he can be a surrogate father to her. We’ll have to wait and see.

I know many viewers of this series have a deep attachment to the video game. The problem with adapting such deep-rooted source material is that people have certain expectations. I can’t say that this program meets those expectations, but the money has undoubtedly been spent while creating the story’s environment. All fans need now is a story to match it. Let’s hope they do.

Halo is now streaming on Paramount+.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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