Are You Talking To Me?

A Cobra Strike Two more tidbits from the Halo script today. One features the Master Chief doing what he does best (killing Covenant) while the other features Cortana doing what she does best.

Talking, of course.

In the initial moments of Halo 1, between the Cryo bay and the Bridge, the Chief is unarmed and essentially cannot be harmed by Covenant units, all of which are separated from him by invisible walls except one. This portion of the game was essentially designed as a bit of a tutorial, as the game shows you how to do things like jump and crouch to make your way around obstacles.

The film, of course, has no such need for doing that; so before the Chief ever makes it to the bridge, he's picked up a couple of weapons and already started taking his toll on Covenant boarding forces.

That first Elite you see when you play Halo 1 the first time, that surprises you from behind a door and then quickly disappears down the corridor? Well, in the film script, the Chief comes up from behind him, takes out his shields with a melee strike from the assault rifle, and then finishes the job with half a clip (30 rounds). Even the number of rounds mentioned in the script here is correct.

Of course, in the game it wouldn't have been necessary to fire a shot had the melee strike come from behind. And on any difficulty other than easy, a single melee shot from the front would not have taken out the shields entirely.

Within the game, the silent melee kill mechanic works well-- it's about the only stealth option available in a game that is most decidedly not about stealth. However, perhaps it was worried that such an easy takedown wouldn't be believable on the big screen; so the Chief pumps the Elite full of lead just to make sure. Makes sense.

There's no one else here, so you must be talking to meAfter leaving the Bridge with Cortana onboard, there's a new exchange between the two that is not in the game, seemingly to establish for the audience the fact that most of the time, Cortana is a disembodied voice that only the Chief can hear. (There is a stage direction later in the script that reinforces the same concept.) The author even manages to make a humorous little scene out of it, a Taxi Driver moment where the Chief gets to ask, "Are you talking to me?"

This, and other touches throughout the script, seem to indicate that the film is being prepared for a wide audience, not just fans of the game who don't need this concept explained for them. While that seems like a good idea, it's also a road that just about every terrible, failed videogame adaptation-- I'm looking at you, Doom-- has tried to go down.

If there's a saving grace for the project here, it will be the involvment of Peter Jackson. He was able to produce a trilogy of movies that did a remarkably good job at pleasing hardcore fans of Tolkien's works as well as attracting a broad audience. It seems clear that Microsoft would want the Halo movie to do the same; they would want to expand the audience for the film to include nongamers without unnecessarily alienating the franchise's core fans. A nice little scene like this I think is a step in the right direction; it's short, unobtrusive, doesn't conflict with any known facts in the Halo story, gives a touch of humor and a helping hand to those not that familiar with the story.

What do you think? Post a comment below!

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Pleasing nongamers...

Didn't Bungie specifically say that they were making this film for those of us that had already read everything, had already played everything, and were already up to date on any and every thing Halo? Didn't Joe Staten go out of his way to make certain that it was understood that this movie had the hardcore's requirements in mind first and foremost, and that any other pleasantries (like stuff added in for people unfamiliar with Halo) would be added later, if ever?

Just a thought...

-AngelicLionheart

Anton P Nym's picture
Anton P Nym
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Re: Pleasing nongamers...

Quote:

Didn't Bungie specifically say that they were making this film for those of us that had already read everything, had already played everything, and were already up to date on any and every thing Halo?

A link to that quote would be in order, I think... as I don't recall that myself. I do recall him writing that Garland "got it", and that fans would find it true to the Halo series. Alas, at work bungie.net is filtered and so I can't link to the two articles until I get home in 8 hours.

As to the idea of making a movie just for the trufen, well, I have trouble imagining a $100 million movie making back its cost at $7/ticket when it's targeted at an audience of only 7 million. (Based on the number of purchased copies of Halo 2... factoring out guests (who'd be baffled without more backstory) but factoring in overseas audiences (non-English) and those who bought just for multiplayer.)

-- Steve'd love to see more of the Halo story unfold, but thinks it'd be tricky to do in a general movie release without it bombing at the box office.

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narcogen
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Market Size

Halo and Halo 2 combined had sold ten million units by the start of this year. I assume they've sold more since then, but I don't have the exact figures. We'll assume that there's a large amount of overlap between H1 and H2 purchases, and that although they've sold now more than 10M games, that 10M is the number of Halo fans.

Assuming the movie ticket costs $10, and the film costs, say, $100M to make, that means all ten million of those fans have to attend the movie once for it to break even.

I'm sure they want significantly more than that. So the movie is going to have to be comprehensible and attractive to people who've never sat down in front of the game.


Rampant for over six years.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
could go either way

Well if you think about it, anything on paper can seem like a good idea(video game script or not). But I think the delivery of the dialog will be the deciding factor. I mean, with bad voice acting, "Are you talking to me?" could come off kinda corny.

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"Are you talking to me?" contradicts the story

My problem with this exchange is that it suggests that John 117 isn't used to Cortana talking in his head. According to the books, this isn't the first time he's had Cortana implanted. The audience will be smart enough to understand what's going on without this scene -- plenty of movies have used this communication device before. If they're going for humor, they could just do a "Can you hear me now?" exchange, instead.

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Re: "Are you talking to me?" contradicts the story

RoverRoverRover wrote:

My problem with this exchange is that it suggests that John 117 isn't used to Cortana talking in his head. According to the books, this isn't the first time he's had Cortana implanted. The audience will be smart enough to understand what's going on without this scene -- plenty of movies have used this communication device before. If they're going for humor, they could just do a "Can you hear me now?" exchange, instead.

It does somewhat contradict the story of the novels. But let's face it-- most of the people watching the movie won't have played the game, and most of the people who've played the game have not read the novels.

Yes, the current exchange goes further than making it clear to the audience what is happening-- it also suggests that this is the first time Cortana was implanted. I'm assuming it was done sometime in Fall of Reach? I'll have to check.. still haven't pulled my copies from the shelf...

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
BUT!

BUT!

When Cortana gets on board the Chief in Halo 1, she expresses surprise at the quality of his "architecture". This seems to imply that she has never been in him before...

I've never read the books.

-Ad

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Inconsistency

She makes a comment that his architecture isn't dissimilar from the Autumn's. And you're right, it does imply that this is the first time Cortana and the Chief have met, something which (to be honest I don't remember here) may not be entirely consistent with the novels.

However, it can probably safely exist as an inconsistency since it isn't likely to be of any major import. Moreover, I tend to resolve any and all inconsistencies, when they arise, in favor of the games over the novel.

Given, though, that the game is only implying something, whereas one of the novels may be plainly stating it, I think I'd just have to conclude that Bungie hadn't really thought about whether or not the Chief and Cortana had worked before, but DID know that this was going to be the first time they meet in the game, and the first time a new player would be seeing the two characters together, and so decided to include that line.


Rampant for over se7en years.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
The Stealth Kills

I think that when it says he's meleeing the elite, he's not doing it from behind. He's probably hitting him in the face or chest, and as he staggers back, MC unloads. That's what I got the impression of when I read it.

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Anonymous
PART 1: Persuading an Auteur – An Outstanding Problem?

Good thoughts. To continue on your own train of thought, here is a 6 part commentary with additional thoughts of mine. Dash Ryan.

PART 1: Persuading an Auteur – An Outstanding Problem?

There seems to be quite a delay in finding a director for Halo. The movie has been pushed back from 2007 to 2008. It no doubt is due to Bungie's high standards. In addition to sticking close to their "Halo Universe Bible", Bungie has repeatedly insinuated that a director on the caliber of Ridley Scott is the only type of director that can do a Halo movie justice. However, in order to persuade auteur class directors such as Ridley Scott to undertake a movie like Halo, the script must contain a strong thread of meaning that goes beyond the sci-fi action.

Motion picture direction at the auteur level, at Ridley Scott’s level, requires a commitment and belief in the script and story. In contrast, motion picture production at the auteur level does not necessarily require this type of conviction as many times motion picture production does not necessarily involve the translation of the story to the screen, but instead provides the means (funding, visual effects, casting, location, logistics, etc.) by which this translation can occur. Thus quality motion picture production to bring a screenplay to the big screen does not necessarily demonstrate that the screenplay is top-caliber material for a visionary translation, it just demonstrates that the production demands required out of the screenplay/story/script can be met (and hopefully in Halo’s case, exceeded) by the assets and/or capabilities of the producer.

The point I’m ultimately making is that I believe that there is an excellent action-oriented core that the commissioned script for the Halo movie in all likelihood has and Peter Jackson felt he could deliver to, based largely by his enthusiasm in the project. But I’m not so sure that there is enough substance in the script to compel the auteur class direction that Bungie appears to be seeking to follow through to a quality feature film translation that can stand up to the scrutiny of fan and critic alike. But, the thoughts in the remaining parts of my commentary, I believe, holds the key that can take the Halo screenplay to a level that can court top-caliber directors.

- Dash Ryan

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