Subhash K Jha reviews HALO

Review of HALO: Shabana Azmi Is The Reason To See HALO

Halo (Available On Voot Select)

Starring Pablo Schreiber, Shabana Azmi Jen Taylor, Natascha McElhone, Yerin Ha, Bokeem Woodbine, Olive Gray, Charlie Murphy, Kate Kennedy, Bentley Kalu, Natasha Culzac, and Danny Sapani

Directed by Otto Bathurst

Rating: *** ½

Not being a fan of video games actually helps in amplifying the enjoy,ent of Halo, an epic-sized made-for-television series based on the globally popular game of the same name from Xbox Game Studios.

So say hello to Halo,a free-falling flamboyant ferbrile adaptation of the video game which kept me invested in the galactic tension and outerspace splendour that sprawl into 9 episodes.I was sent only the first two episodes for review. What I saw was in one word, intriguing.In two words, intriguing and dazzling.

Being a Steven Spielberg presentation, no corners are cut . The production value is exceedingly high though never ostentatious , with the battle scenes conveying all the raging mystique of what we recently saw in Zack Synder’s Justice League sans the gore.

The series opens with a pitched battle on a planet called Madrigal where vicious aliens known as the Covenant plunder attack and annihilate the entire population except one girl Kwan Ha Boo(played by Yerin Ha ). Starting as an apocalyptic survival story, the storytelling smoothly slips into a Star Trek mode , when Kwan Ha meets the series’ hero Master Chief. Pablo Schreiber as Master Chef (far more emotionally naked in Orange Is the New Black ) is not allowed to be much of an actor in this series. He is either fully armoured, face shielded, or his face conveys the incurable stoicism of a time traveler who isn’t into expensive watches.

In the first two episodes the bonding between Kwan Ha and Star Chef every sign of branching into tender tendrils , provided the plot allows the space between them(pun intended) to breathe easily.

There is an excessive and palpable tension in the air throughout, nowhere more evident than in the veiled but venomous sardonicism in the conversations between Dr Catherine Halsey(Natascha McElhone) and Admiral Margaret Parangosky Director of Office of Naval Intelligence(Shabana Azmi).

The bouts of interactive dialogue , subtly laden with power pressures, between the two women on what the impending attack by alien forces signifies, are richly layered with currents of hostility. As a powerful women whose dominance is under threat, Shabana Azmi is a ball of fire ready to explode. It is a pleasure beyond measure to see our National treasure being given a role to which she does absolute justice , and that too without assuming a false accent!

The presentations wears a polished look . The battle sequence which opens the series looks like an energetically choreographed ballroom dance of death . The outer space imagery is never short of innovative visuals. The stakes in the game of survival are perpetually high.

Director Otto Bathurst’s understated style should come as no surprise to those who have seen his crafty work in Peaky Blinders. He brings us close to the catastrophic conundrum but succeeds in keeping us away for just that amount of distance where we remain involved without the excessive dramatic pressure that repels audiences.

Halo is epic in design , the cast members are sharp and alert, none more so than our Shabana Azmi whose killing looks could finish off an entire galaxy of aggressive aliens.