A full trailer for Paramount+’s flashy new video game series, HALO, premiered during the AFC Championship game yesterday. It shows off more of Master Chief, the helmeted, faceless hero of the series played by Pablo Schreiber. Or, we assume that’s Pablo Schreiber in every shot. This invites the same question as The Mandalorian, which is: how often is that really The Name Actor under the helmet? Turns out, especially in season one, it was not often Pedro Pascal under Mando’s helmet, as he was filming Wonder Woman 1984 and performing on Broadway at the time. Anyway, we’ll take it on trust Pablo Schreiber 100% performed the role of Master Chief, but I DO think it’s interesting there is now a fashion for shows featuring faceless protagonists that makes it virtually impossible to tell if it’s the name above the title in the role or a stunt performer receiving no credit (and much less pay).
Building off the first trailer, this time we get a sense of the conflict—humans vs. “the Covenant”, an alien race—and we learn that Master Chief is an enhanced human soldier, designed for the purpose of defeating the Covenant, who can be controlled, which is, naturally, ominous. But then he touches some space magic bullsh-t and maybe now he has a conscience or something. Also, HALO has Bokeem Woodbine, who besides being a very good actor, once belonged to a 1980s rock band that looked like this:
Did y'all know actor Bokeem Woodbine was an instrumental music major, and the lead singer for the band Mazard back in the 80s? pic.twitter.com/N9OmaaPgJZ— Kokujin (@Kaibutsu) March 30, 2021
We also get to see Cortana, the AI that assists the “Spartans”, the enhanced soldiers including Master Chief. Yes, Cortana, as in the Microsoft personal assistant app. HALO is an Xbox game, Microsoft owns Xbox, this is all corporate synergy. What I do appreciate is that the show has kept Cortana’s voice actor, Jen Taylor, rather than replacing her with a more famous name (ahem: Nintendo). I still don’t think these trailers are doing much to demystify years of game lore for the uninitiated, but I can see an appeal here for people who enjoy shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Expanse. There’s a similar feel of “Politics, but in SPAAAAACE”, with the bonus that HALO looks tremendously expensive.