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Quint at Ain't It Cool News has put up part three of five in his interview with Halo movie producer Peter "Freakin" Jackson. Unlike just about everybody at Bungie, Jackson actually likes to talk and talk about Halo, so there's loads of content in here. It is probably too far out from the film's expected release to hold him to anything concrete in here, but what comes across loud and clear is his enthusiasm for first-time feature director Neill Blomkamp.

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Since an announcement at Xbox.com appeared and was just as quickly removed, the Halo community has been awash in discussion about the apparent appointment of Neill Blomkamp as director of the silver screen adaptation of Halo. Neither Microsoft Game Studios nor Bungie Studios have chosen to comment on the announcement, although Blomkamp himself has granted two interviews on the subject: one to Ain't It Cool News, and the other a gracious response to two questions submitted by the Red vs Blue fan community, which was keen to know whether the movie would draw from the games or the novels (and from which of each) and also if there could possibly be any easter eggs in the movie for RvB fans.

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The withdrawal of the official notice as well as refusal to comment by Microsoft and Bungie would seem to smack of a premature announcement, rather than an erroneous one. If the later, Blomkamp would seem to be just going along with the joke, and having us on until such time as an official announcement is made. If the former, one wonders why Microsoft simply doesn't ask Peter Jackson and Blomkamp from refraining from giving interviews until there is an official announcement.

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Xbox.com yesterday put up an item apparently naming South African director of commercials and short films Neill Blomkamp as director of the Halo film. Several other sites, including HBO and GameDailyBiz, picked up on the item before Xbox.com pulled it.

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What I think the filmmakers should and shouldn't do with the Halo franchise.

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In the wake of rumors that the Halo movie will be pushed back from its rumored 2007 release date due to its rumored lack of a director and rumored delay of the rumored principal photography that was rumored to have taken place somewhere in New Zealand about now, but allegedly hasn't, several readers suggested I write something on how I thought the Halo movie ought to be done.

To a certain extent, to do so is a little unfair and perhaps counterproductive. Any idea for the film, if expressed in enough detail, would be indistinguishable from an unsolicited script thrown into a studio slush pile. Either it'll just be ignored (as most probably deserve to be) or it would be read. Having been read, if any ideas actually got into the movie, it could form the basis for complaints on the part of the author that the studio used them without compensation.

Or, worse still, a random coincidence between any idea in such a script and the film itself might be used as a basis for such a complaint. So, in a way, writing too much about cool things you'd like to see in the movie almost guarantees those things won't be, especially if it's something new and unique and interesting, rather than just something you've already seen in the games or read in the books.

Besides, the only fair way to do that would be to pen a complete script; and if I was capable of writing a good Halo movie script that would be a critical and commercial success I think there'd have been more of an indication of it before now.

However, what I will do is take some cues from the games, the books, the rumored script by Alex Garland, which I have previously spent time dissecting, and do something that's not allowed at the Movie Cynics Database at HBO. I'll write a simple list of things I think the Halo movie Should or Should Not do and explain why.

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[image:10099 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] I'm so thoroughly convinced now that Halo 3 is actually being made that I've had the Halo 3 logo tattooed on my own baby-soft flesh, an experience I can assure you is not entirely unlike enduring plasma weapons fire.

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Since I've already been called out for being petulant this week, I thought I'd do a follow-up on Uwe Boll's whinefest from yesterday where he takes a few swipes at his critics, just as I've taken a few swipes at those trying to let the air out of the tires of my favorite defenseless lovelorn zombie, Stubbs.

Aside from his complaint, most likely valid, that many who criticize his films haven't actually seen them (a sure bet for films that don't succeed at the box office, I'd imagine) Boll also suggests the following series of logical propositions as a counter-argument (click read more from front page for the complete article):

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The Bleat has an excellent hypothetical exchange between the Doom movie scriptwriter and a Hollywood producer:

Producer: Of the game, maybe, but you know, we’re in the reimagining business here. Value added. People go see this expecting demons from hell, we give them something else, shake them up.

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Eurogamer is carrying an interview with film director Uwe Boll about videogame movies. The thrust is basically that when his videogame adaptations have failed to succeed critically or to make good theatrical box-office numbers, the reasons have largely been a lack of support from the developers of the original game and an unfairly hostile press.

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You knew they would change something, didn't you? If the idea had been to just replay the story exactly as the game presented-- game play included-- they could have just strung the cutscenes together and called it a day. Who knows, perhaps a good portion of the ten million Halo fans in the world would have paid money to see cinema-quality renders of their beloved game.

However, that isn't the way the Halo film is being done. Given that there's a lot of interesting things in the Halo universe to present, and only a few hours in a typical cinema release to show them, it's inevitable that some things won't make the cut, and some things that do will be... different than you remember them.

[image:9940 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] So it shouldn't be a shock to anyone that moments after escaping the lifepod wreck, early in what would be the level "Halo" in the game, the Master Chief is attacked by Covenant vehicles. In the game, those vehicles are Banshees. In the script we've been looking at over recent days, it's Ghosts.

This isn't a major plot point, of course. Nothing substantive really changes as a result of exchanging one vehicle for another, and one could argue that this sequence, as written, is more dramatic than the average encounter at this point in the game. Since you've no rocket launcher at that point, the easiest way to take out the Banshees is with a pistol or an assault rifle-- neither of which would make a particularly interesting encounter that would also be believable.

There aren't any Ghosts in that level at all in-game, and as a player you wouldn't even see one until level five, Assault on the Control Room. Perhaps the writer felt that it was too long to wait. It also goes without saying that in Halo 1 you can't board Ghosts as the Chief does in this sequence; but there's no reason why the writer has to restrict himself to the limitations on character actions that are solely the result of game play mechanics, especially outdated ones.

[image:9941 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] A far meatier exchange, if you'll pardon the pun, occurs when an Elite encounters a downed lifepod and instructs his minions to burn the human flesh because it "is sacrilege". The nature of the Covenant's conflict with humanity is never fully explained. The Prophets cite blocking access to sacred sites as a motivating factor, but that hardly seems fair given the Covenant's usual methods for accessing them. Here, it seems to be not just what humanity has done, but their very existence-- hence the phrase "all this flesh is sacrilege"-- that is the sticking point.

I think there are still unanswered questions about how Humanity fits into the Forerunners' plans for the Halo installations, and how that role is perceived-- or misperceived-- by the Covenant rank and file as well as the leadership. I also applaud the writer for not backing down or unduly exaggerating this essential point in the story on political correctness grounds in the post-9/11 environment. The Covenant are consistently portrayed in the books and the novels as religious zealots; their religion is the driving force behind their culture. If this aspect of the story remains, no doubt it will become a point of discussion and of comparison regarding current conflicts in the world today. It's refreshing to see that rather than the approach taken to Doom, in which many details were changes for seemingly no good reason at all, that the core of Halo's story is being preserved as originally envisioned in the first game.

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Here the Master Chief is attached by Ghosts and does a little Halo 2-style boarding during Halo 1's plot.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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Some Halo-related and not-so-Halo-related news for today:

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[image:9927 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 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.

[image:9928 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0]After 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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Articles pertaining to the script for the Halo Film.

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"MASTER CHIEF taps the side of his head, as if checking his hearing. CORTANA: ... What are you doing? MASTER CHIEF: Are you talking to me? CORTANA: Who else would I be talking to?" A moment that isn't really necessary for hardcore gamers or for those familiar with the plot, the writer manages to make a nice "Master Chief - Cortana Moment" out of an exchange that explains why the Chief is going to spend the next two hours listening to a (mostly) disembodied voice.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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