After 'Halo' Movie Debacle, Microsoft Is Master Chief Of Its Own Destiny
Microsoft and 343 industries aren’t getting into the cinema, they’re sidestepping it entirely as an obsolete technology. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is a 90-minute, $10 million dollar movie, and if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard about its upcoming release, it’s because it’s already out. The new movie follows the a squad of military cadets as they gradually learn how to be soldiers and then, very suddenly, learn that they’re under alien attack. Finally, they learn that Master Chief kicks ass. But gamers already knew that.
Master Chief is the ultimate tough guy. A bulletproof power-armored soldier, faceless by design behind his golden visor, all he does is sleep and fight. Literally: They keep him in cryosleep until its time for him to open another can of interstellar whoop-ass. He’s so self-sufficient an action star that he even carries his own damsel in distress with him, Cortana, an improbably scantily clad female AI that's been loaded into the computers in his armor. (This enables her to call him long-distance when the bad guys get her.)
Given those credentials, how insane is it that he and Halo haven’t been in the cinema? Think about it: Halo is one of the most popular gaming franchises in history. It's the face of an entire console generation, a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon that generates block-long lines with the release of every new chapter of the game and opening weekend sales that would make most movie producers and studios weep into their cayenne-pepper cleansing smoothies. Even novels based on the game have been bestsellers, and novels based on games have a worse reputation than the used socks of gamers.
Halo would seem to have all the ingredients for an awesome summer tentpole picture: An inscrutable tough guy teams with unlikely allies to battle invading aliens and, along the way, encounters enough twists and support characters to support a full trilogy. (Sergeant Johnson alone deserves his own movie). And yet, Halo has been knocking around Hollywood production hell for seven years. In that time, the franchise has produced five more games, including a remake of the original 2001 game, Halo: Combat Evolved.
Given the sweeping battles that Jackson depicted so vividly in LOTR, we envisioned breathtaking footage of the epic space combat only hinted at in Combat Evolved, alongside the close-range futuristic firefights the game was all about. (Even fanfic that combined both franchises sounded possible. Imagine a crossover in which Legolas swings up around the turrets of a giant Covenant Scarab to shove an Energy Sword through its core, while Gimli clubs Brutes with their own gravity hammers and shouts “That still only counts as one point!”)