There’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood that game-to-movie adaptations have to suck. Even though the Resident Evil films are okay in their own cheesy way, Prince of Persia was alright and Silent Hill had a few scares, you only need look as far as Uwe Boll’s catalogue of game adaptations to see just how wrong they can be. And I’m only using him as an example because he’s an easy mark.
Despite the abundance of duds, I still hold out hope that Hollywood can, one day, do a faithful game adaptation that works on the silver screen. The project with the most potential was Halo. Microsoft did the smart thing by paying Hollywood screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd) to script the space opera. Early script reviews suggested that Halo had been penned as ‘Saving Private Ryan in space’, and when Peter ‘Lord of the Rings’ Jackson signed on as a producer, Halo was set to be the first game-to-film adaptation to rock.
Then it fell through. Director Neill Bomkamp went on to create District 9 (complete with certain Halo weapon props), and everyone else involved in the project went their own way. Certain lucky people got to ride in a Weta Workshop-forged Warthog, but the rest of us had only a handful of live-action Halo snippets to fill the void. Wired may have recently revealed why the movie fell apart, but live-action teasers and Halo have been synonymous since Halo 3.
Halo 4 is set to follow down the same route, albeit in a bigger way. Shacknews is reporting that Microsoft is funding Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, a live-action web series prelude to the next Halo game that’s slated to hit in November. Each episode will be around the 15-minute mark and the series is scheduled to be released in five weekly instalments before the 6th of November.
The series is set to follow the story of a Master Chief-inspired UNSC cadet that rises through the ranks to become a leader on the UNSC Infinity. This character is slated to have links to Halo 4’s plot. There will be two ways to watch the series—the Halo Waypoint portal or Machinima—but it’s likely that the series will hit DVD and Blu-ray sometime down the track, too.
Frank O’Connor, franchise development director at 343 Industries, had this to say about Forward Unto Dawn. “Every time we do a live-action commercial the audience says, ‘We want to see more so that we can explore the ‘Halo’ universe a little bit more. Demand grew more and more out of the two little vignettes we’d previously produced.”
The big question is whether Microsoft is testing the waters with more live-action Halo in the hopes of attracting Hollywood’s attention for another crack at a film adaptation. After all, this web-series approach is akin to what was recently done with Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which actually led to the financing of a Mortal Kombat film.
Would you watch a Halo film if it ever hit the big screen?