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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Halo Effect

Gamers will understand the excitement: the smash hit Halo is coming to movie theaters.

The company’s “Halo” video-game franchise and its hero, Master Chief, will provide the basis for a major movie under a deal between Microsoft and movie studios Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox.

Microsoft confirmed the agreement Wednesday after months of speculation in Hollywood and the video-game world. The company declined to disclose the financial terms, but Daily Variety reported that Microsoft will receive 10 percent of the box-office receipts, including a guaranteed $5 million in advance.

There’s a hazard in bringing a video game to the big screen. At best, the typical video game is a little shallow on plot, and they don’t easily translate from a fun, fast-paced button masher to an engaging, semi-intelligent film. I’m actually heartened by the fact that Microsoft is involved; I can’t believe that they would let their franchise be trashed by some idiot filmmaker.

For that matter, that Alex Garland, writer of The Beach and 28 Days Later, will be handling the script seems like a good sign. He might not be the best scriptwriter, but he’s no geeky neophyte. Ultimately, I would like to see a good movie, not just a good game movie. Pirates of the Caribbean was brilliant fun because, although it took its basis from a tiny Disney World amusement ride, it only took that as the germ of a good movie concept. Halo needs to do the same if it wants to succeed as something more than a monument for the kids that played the game.

Of course, they also need to hire the right actor to play Master Chief, the tough and gruff hero of the game. It needs to be someone with physical presence, the ability to play out credible action sequences, and a little bit of age (since Master Chief most certainly isn’t a youngster). Pretty boys need not apply: this guy is a little rough around the edges, battle-scarred, and rugged.

My top five to play the role:

  1. Denzel Washington. I never really thought of Denzel as an action hero until I saw Man on Fire. This man has the physical presence, the star power, the acting abilities, and that intangible something that lets you know that he is a serious bad ass. The only question that I have is would he take the job?
  2. Jason Statham. Just watch Snatch or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and realize that this guy could play the brutally violent, rugged role to perfection. What he lacks in bulk, he more than makes up for in harsh delivery.
  3. Vin Diesel. Vin Diesel really can’t act. I mean, he can act tough, intimidating, and mean, but that’s really just a function of his huge body, bullet-shaped bald head, rumbling voice, and powerful glare. Vin Diesel could be a brilliant Master Chief if he never has to show an emotion other than crankiness.
  4. Russell Crowe. He doesn’t have the same physical presence of others on the list, but he does have the look of an honest-to-God military man. Instead of the unrealistic bulk of a Vin Diesel, Crowe looks like a guy who you might run into at the PX--but you avoid because of his habit of drinking and being a mean bastard.
  5. The Rock. Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, proved in Be Cool that he has just enough in the way of acting talent to be both a funny and intimidating presence on screen. A surprising role for him, but one that makes me think that he might be able to hold the center of a movie like Halo.

And my bottom five:
  1. Nicholas Cage. I like Nicholas Cage and I could see some misguided soul trying to shoehorn him into this role--and what a huge mistake it would be. He would be woefully unconvincing and far too small.
  2. Ice Cube. What the hell were the producers of XXX: State of the Union thinking? Ice Cube is funny and charismatic, but he makes a crappy action hero.
  3. Matt Damon. The Bourne movies convinced me that Matt Damon can actually be an action star, but more in the realm of an American counterpart to James Bond than as a hardened, brutal military man.
  4. Viggo Mortensen. Please, his role as Aragorn was a fluke. The reality is that this guy isn’t really manly enough to pull off being Master Chief.
  5. The Rock. And here I look at the other side of The Rock. Here is my problem with him in the role: he’s just finished playing a character in Doom, which would make a starring role in Halo a bit odd. On top of that, he comes across as very studied and polished--not exactly a pretty boy, but not really rough around the edges, either.

I hope they get it right. Signing the right person to the lead role will be almost as important as making sure that the script stays true to the store without being self-destructively slavish to the games.

Read the story.

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You hit the nail 100% on the head. One of the most successful video game movies ever was Resident Evil. This movie was great precisely becuase all involved in the film (including Mila herself - one more reason why she is so freakin’ hot) were huge fans of the game franchise. Unlike the crappy House of the Dead they were smart enough to start with a game that actually had a compelling story, something that Halo has going for it. They then - lovingly, because they were all such fans - crafted a story from the source without trying to rehash any one of the actual games. Finally, they recognized that as a video game movie, it had to capture the fun and excitement of the game, too. The result? Box office sleeper hit that spawned a huge sequel with (probably) more to come.

There is no reason why Halo can’t do the same.

The first thing that Halo has going for it is Bill Gates. Hate him if you want, but respect the fact that the man makes very smart business decisions. Not only will this be the first movie from a Microsoft license, it’s also based on the Xbox flagship. The Xbox is key to Bill’s current plan for home Internet access domination, so he has a huge vested interest. One thing that I will always place my faith in is Bill’s desire to make money. In this case, that is a good thing.

The next thing that Halo has going for it, as I already mentioned, is the story. Very compelling, very detailed, very deep.

Finally, there is a huge fan base. A built-in audience never hurts.

I agree with you that the choice of actor for the Master Chief is critical. I’m with you on the Denzel choice. The Rock is too pretty, he won’t work (although The Rundown is the role that most makes me think he might be able to pull it off). I don’t think that he will even be considered due to the Doom connection. I like Statham a lot, but I’m not sure. I can’t say why.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 09:12 AM

One thing that I will always place my faith in is Bill’s desire to make money. In this case, that is a good thing.

Amen to that. I really think that the MS connection is going to give this movie a really good shot at success. I hope I’m not disappointed.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 09:21 AM

Who is directing this?  Let us pray it is not Uwe Boll...Why do they think that guy can direct movies based on video games?  I am voting Samuel L.for Master Chief.

*now you can feel special wink

on Aug 25 2005 @ 10:10 AM

I don’t think anyone has signed on to direct yet, so hopefully it’s someone with talent.

If I had my way, it would be Ang Lee or Sam Raimi--of course, I don’t know that either of the two would care to direct a video game-based movie.

I can dream, though.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 10:49 AM

Oh, and thanks. I’ve found that feeling special feels remarkably like not feeling special. Only I get this nifty new label.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 10:52 AM

Ooooo, halo in movie form.

I anxiously await a full retraction of your nerd comment.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 11:05 AM

"What nerd comment,” you ask.

“This nerd comment,” I answer.


Anyway, that test was flawed. It had too many questions about the Periodic Table of Elements and not enough about Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, real nerds play D&D…

on Aug 25 2005 @ 11:12 AM

Rule number 1:  Never read books based on video games.

Rule number 2:  Never watch movies based on video games.

I think that pretty much covers the essential rules for life.  Well, except for that one about dessert; but you all know that.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 11:25 AM

Nice back-peddling!

I would agree, actually.  The test had some serious flaws.  The lack of D&D was only one.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 11:58 AM

I live by rule 1, but I’ve violated rule 2 a few times. I’ve been disappointed more often than not.

Anyway, I always though it was this:

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Don’t know how that would help in this situation, though.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 12:03 PM

Shannon, I back-pedal with the best. I could’ve been a politician.

A nerdy politician, of course.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 12:04 PM

You may be right about the “land war in Asia” rule, though that seems a bit tough on the Chinese.

As to “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”, well, from the available evidence that one may be flawed.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 12:15 PM

cool smile

Nicely done.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 12:17 PM

Nope.  We shouldn’t see Master Chief’s face.  Ever.  Or at least not until the last installment of the films.  Let him have a cool voice and let appropriate stuntmen fill the suit.  As for Cortana, there you can get some star power...like Angelina Jolie...sigh.

The Rock is already playing the Sarge in Doom this fall.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 03:02 PM

I really need to calm down and read everything before I go commenting don’t I?  Sorry

on Aug 25 2005 @ 03:03 PM

It’s okay--your enthusiasm is part of the fun.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 03:04 PM

Yeah, sometimes I think I’m the only one who blogs about this stuff when Stryker’s busy.

on Aug 25 2005 @ 03:39 PM

Actually the Halo books were pretty good, I hope they take material from them for the movie. As for who should play Master Chief, that depends. If they just stick to the story from the game, we shouldn’t see his face at all and they should just get the voice actor from the game and use stuntmen to fill the suit.

If they use any of the earlier material from Halo:Fall of Reach (the prequel book), then they kinda have to show his face. Though none of your top five really feel right, except maybe Crowe.

Definately not Nicholas Cage. The man can no longer act. Seriously, watch Raising Arizona or Wild At Heart. Then watch anything he’s been in since around Leaving Las Vegas. That is a man whose talent has been scooped out like the goop in a pumpkin.

His judgement, too. I mean National Treasure? Puh-leaze.

on Aug 26 2005 @ 02:02 PM

Saw it on G4tv

on Jul 13 2006 @ 06:41 AM
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