TROUBLE CITY

DON'T WRITE OFF MASTER CHIEF JUST YET

Movie NewsMicah RobinsonComment

With the ever increasing PR thunder surrounding Halo 3, it's been easy to forget the video game franchise with low-hanging balls of titanium also had a film aiming to beat the "video game movies suck" standard of property licensing. Many swore the project would fail. I remained the optimist*, which had me weeping pathetic and salty tears of fanboy disappointment when harsh Truth and Reconciliation came down via Fox, Universal and Microsoft: "You know that whole Halo movie project we got you all excited about? Yeah - forget we ever said anything, ok Suckers? Peace out."

Seven months later, it's with muted enthusiasm I bring up the following story-- one that may not technically even be news, but is interesting to anyone with similar and inexplicable yearnings for a Halo movie (which could very well have been a fair amount of fun if you believe anyone close to the project): Peter Jackson is still talking about Halo orbiting the backburner of his full production constellation-- inasmuch as even prognosticating on renewed interest from studios when Halo 3 pulls down the tighty whities of video game sales and paddles bare-assed records into oblivion. New Zealand news site Stuff ran the following over the weekend, taking it in part from OnFilm, a Film Trade mag out of New Zealand:

Jackson said he expected renewed interest from Hollywood studios 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures to have Halo made as the Halo 3 video game will be released later this year.

He and partner Fran Walsh would be involved again in Halo only if Blomkamp is the director. "We wouldn't want to do it with anybody else. It'll be Neill's call."

I'm just partially stunned at Jackson's seemingly unwavering commitment to having Neill Blomkamp deliver the film. Though brief, I saw and was instantly won over by the Alive in Joburg short. Of course, me aside, Blomkamp's got some pretty good word of mouth by those in the know. His "documentary there" technique may have lost some of its bloom thanks to a popular surge of the readily available style, but the thought of "documentary-style shooting" being applied to the usually glossy sci-fi epic ala Paul "in the thick of it" Greengrass sparks a lot of gid.

Still, Jackson isn't the deal breaker on the project and his stance isn't the final word (though it would be hard to separate him from it thanks to all his recent intertwining with Bungie). In addition, there's still a reported general incredulity with the inexperienced Blomkamp and his ability to maneuver and deliver a solidly-entertaining 120-minute action sci-fi action epic in need of more narrative flesh than conveyed in its run from point A to B of its gaming namesake.

I'm not crossing any fingers, but when the chill of spending millions (roughly $150 million at last disclosure-- not counting ad spend, etc.) on a property requiring huge crossover to be considered a studio success fades off, it's simply a matter of when, not if Halo will be made. Regardless, the powers that be better do it quick. Halo is still riding a Zenith that would have fallen out from under so many franchises long ago, but with more and more Halo saturating the market, timing is critical. Thus, if the Halo 3 frenzy kicks off like it's expected to in September, I'd side with Jackson and say there will certainly be a lot more poking and prodding.

*Halo: My secret shame. And not just the way so many love to fuel their hatred of teenagers in multiplayer. No, I fell for the story. The whole "derivative", "blah-dee-blah did it better", "what story" story.