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.

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