Halo is a multi-billion dollar military science fiction film franchise created by Peter Jackson. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. The Covenant, led by their religious leaders The Prophets, worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished in combat with the parasitic Flood. Many of the games center on the experiences of Master Chief John-117 (voiced by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) one of a group of soldiers codenamed Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana (Rose Leslie). The only other single Spartan focused on in the series is Noble Six, the main protagonist of Halo Reach. The term "Halo" refers to the Halo rings: large, habitable structures that were created by the Forerunners to destroy the Flood. They are similar to the Orbitals in Iain M Banks' Culture novels, and author Larry Niven's Ringworld concept.
The film series have been praised as being among the best sci-fi films as well as political and religious critics by it's creator Peter Jackson and are considered the new genre of Sci-fi. This has led to the term "Halo killer" being used to describe films that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and immense marketing campaigns from publisher Wingnut Films, its sequels went on to break various box office records. Halo 3 had an total of twelve billion on it's first week. Halo: Reach, in turn, broke the record set by Halo 3, acquiring twelve billion in it's star. The films have sold over 50 million copies worldwide, with the games alone grossing almost $3.4 billion.
Strong sales of the films led to the franchise's expansion to other media; there are multiple bestselling novels, graphic novels, video games, animated series and other licensed products. Halo Wars took the franchise into new film territory, as it is a documentary film, while the rest of the films in the series are war sci-fi. Beyond the original trilogy, Peter Jackson developed the expansion Halo 3: ODST, and a prequel, Halo: Reach, his last project for the franchise.
Setting and Plot
In the distant past, an intellectual race called the Forerunners fought an alien parasite known as the Flood. The Flood, which spread through infestation of sentient life, overran much of the Milky Way Galaxy. One of the races affected was humanity, who went into space and came into conflict with the Forerunners. Exhausted by their war and after having explored all other options, the Forerunners conceived a weapon of last resort to combat the Flood. Using an installation known as the Ark, they built large ring-shaped megastructures known as Halos. The Halo Array, when activated, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy—depriving the Flood of their food, after which samples of the lost lifeforms would be reseeded. Delaying as long as they could, the Forerunners activated the rings and disappeared. Tens of thousands of years later, in the 26th century, humanity — under the auspices of the United Nations Space Command, or UNSC — colonize many worlds thanks to the development of faster-than-light "slipspace" travel. Tensions escalate between the older and more stable "Inner Colonies" and the remote "Outer Colonies", leading to civil war. The UNSC creates an elite group of enhanced supersoldiers, known as Spartans, to suppress the rebellion covertly. In the year 2525, the human colony of Harvest falls under attack by a theocratic alliance of alien races known as the Covenant. The Covenant leadership declares humanity heretics and an affront to their gods—the Forerunners—and begins a holy war of genocide. The Covenant's superior technology and numbers prove decisive advantages; though effective, the Spartans are too few in number to turn the tide of battle in humanity's favor.
In 2552, the Covenant arrive at Reach, the UNSC's last major stronghold beyond Earth, and launch an invasion of the planet. The last Spartans and UNSC military are unable to stop the Covenant from bombarding the surface with plasma. Following directives to avoid leading the Covenant to Earth, Cortana, the AI aboard the fleeing UNSC ship Pillar of Autumn, selects random coordinates that lead the ship to a Halo installation. The Covenant follow, damaging the Autumn and leading its crew to take the fight to the ring's surface. The Covenant accidentally release Flood imprisoned on the ring; in order to nullify the threat, the ring's AI caretaker, 343 Guilty Spark, enlists the help of the Spartan, John-117, or Master Chief. However, before the pair can activate Halo's defenses, Cortana reveals that Halo's activation would mean their own destruction. Master Chief and Cortana instead detonate the Autumn's engines, destroying Halo and preventing the escape of the Flood. They return to Earth with a few other human survivors, warning of an impending Covenant attack. The Covenant, unaware of the destructive nature of the rings, attempt to fire another ring, Installation 05, in order to fulfill their religious prophecy. and to do so launch an attack on Earth. Helping the Chief to defend the Earth are Sergeant Avery Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes. One race in the Covenant, the Elites, learn the truth about the rings and join forces with humanity in order to stop the firing of the ring. Though they are successful, the unexpected shutdown of the installation triggers a fail-safe protocol, priming all the rings for firing from one location, referred to as the Ark. Still oblivious to the true nature of the rings, the Covenant High Prophet of Truth and the remaining loyalist Covenant proceed to head to Earth, where they believe the Ark is buried. A battle rages on Earth between human forces, the Covenant, and a Flood-infected army. Eventually, the Covenant is repulsed and flees through a slipspace portal, and the Flood is purged from Earth, resulting in the devastation of much of Africa.
Following a message Cortana left aboard the Flood ship, the Chief, Arbiter, Elites, Johnson, Keyes, and their troops follow Truth through the portal, joined by 343 Guilty Spark, who aids the Chief as he has no function to fulfill after the destruction of his ringworld. During the ensuing battle between humans, Covenant, and the Flood on the Ark, Johnson is captured by Truth, himself infected by Flood, to activate the Halo rings. Keyes tries to intervene, but is killed by Truth. Master Chief and the Arbiter, aided by the Flood, take down Truth and rescue Johnson. After finding out that the Ark is constructing a replacement for Guilty Spark's Halo installation, Master Chief decides to fire the unstable Halo, destroying both the Flood and the Ark, and manages to rescue Cortana to use the Activation Index she contains. After finding out about their plan, Guilty Spark kills Johnson and tries to kill Master Chief, but Master Chief destroys Guilty Spark and activates the Halo. Master Chief and the Arbiter attempt to escape on the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn, but the slipspace portal, impacted by the Halo's blastwave, shuts with Master Chief's half trapped in space. After a memorial service on Earth for the victims of the Human-Covenant war, the Arbiter and his Elite brethren depart for their home planet. But it is shown that the rear half of Forward Unto Dawn is floating in space, with the Chief and Cortana on board. Cortana activates a distress beacon and the Chief goes into hibernation. An later scene, showns an planet-like giant sphere shinning through the space, as the Dawn approaches, leading to billions of fan-speculation of the future of the franchise.
The films of the main Halo trilogy were developed by Peter Jackson and Wingnut Films, and are sci-fi films. The first title in the series is Halo: Combat Evolved, released on November 15, 2001. The game was initially intended to be an short. Halo: Combat Evolved introduced many plot themes common to the whole trilogy. The protagonist battle various aliens on foot and in vehicles to complete objectives, while attempting to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo.
Its sequel, Halo 2 was released theatrically on November 9, 2004 and later for Windows Vista on May 17, 2007. For the first time, the game was released in two different editions: a standard edition with just the film and extras; and the Extended's Edition with a specially designed aluminum disc, along with an additional bonus DVD, 4 additional hours of special features and an book. Halo 2 introduced new story and in-universe elements, like the introduction of the specie Jiralhanae (Brutes), Yan'Mee (Drones) and Huragoks, as well as the introduction of The Prophets, leaders of the Covenant, the flood leader Gravemind and new characters.
Halo 3 is the final film in the main Halo trilogy, ending the story arc begun in Halo: Combat Evolved. The game was released theatrically on September 25, 2007. It adds to the film series new vehicles and new weapons, as long as new allies.
The success of the main Halo trilogy spurred the creation of spin-off films. Halo Wars is a documentary film set in the universe. Set in the year 2531, the game takes place 21 years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Much effort was spent on developing a control scheme that was simple and intuitive, unlike other console strategy games. The film was announced at IGN, and released in February and March 2009.
In a July 2008 interview with MTV, Wingnut Film's head business, Brad Fuller, stated that Peter was working on a new Halo film, independent of other Halo projects. An announcement of the new Halo project was expected at the 2008 film exposition, which New Line stated "has been building for several months", but was delayed by their publisher Wingnut. The Halo announcement was to be part of Microsoft's 150-minute presentation, and was cut to trim the presentation down to 90 minutes; Microsoft stated it wanted to give the film its own dedicated event. After the release of an ambiguous teaser trailer on September 25, the project was revealed as Halo 3: Recon, later changed to Halo 3: ODST. Set between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3, watchers take view of elite human soldiers called Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST). The film was released on September 22, 2009.
Announced at 2009, Halo: Reach is a prequel to the main trilogy and Halo's last film. Watchers see Noble Six, a "Hyper Lethal Vector" who is one of the members of the Spartan squad "Noble Team" as they defend Reach against the Covenant. The ending of the game leads directly into the events of Combat Evolved. The game was released on September 14, 2010.
Seven Halo soundtracks have been released. The Halo Original Soundtrack contains most of Combat Evolved's music. Due to the varying nature of filming, the music present was designed to use the game's dynamic audio playback engine. The engine allows for the mood, theme, and duration of music played to change according to scenes. To afford a more enjoyable listening experience, O'Donnell rearranged portions of the music of Halo into standalone suites, which follow the narrative course of the film. The soundtrack also contains music not used in the film, including a variation on the Halo theme that was first played at Halo's debut at Macworld 1999.
For Halo 2's soundtrack, producer Nile Rodgers and O'Donnell decided to split the music into two separate volumes. The first, Volume One, was released on November 9, 2004 and contained all the themes as well as the "inspired-by" music present in the film (featuring Steve Vai, Incubus, Hoobastank, and Breaking Benjamin). The second release, Volume 2, contained the rest of the music, much of which was incomplete or not included in the first soundtrack, as the first soundtrack was shipped before the film was released. Halo 2, unlike its predecessor, was mixed to take full advantage of Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound.