By David Baldwin
After spending years in development hell, Microsoft X-Box fans can rejoice – the long-awaited HALO series is finally here. It tells the story of Master Chief (Pablo Schrieber), a genetically modified “Spartan” super soldier from the year 2552. When he discovers a mysterious object after a firefight with the villainous alien Covenant group threatening humanity’s very existence, Master Chief’s worldview is irrevocably changed.
As my experience with HALO-lore is minimal at best (I tended to get my ass handed to me every time I picked-up a controller), I cannot speak to the attention to detail that fans are sure to equally enjoy and pick apart with a fine-toothed comb. Speaking as a non-fan however, the look and feel of the first two episodes I was able to screen is nothing short of astounding. The battle scene in Episode 1 is epic and appropriately violent for a series based on an M-rated Video Game franchise, the special effects are terrific and the booming score is exactly as great as I hoped it would be. There is one controversial decision that is certain to annoy some die-hard fans, though I hope they can look past it and appreciate just how much effort was put into getting these worlds, creatures, armour, backdrops and spaceships to look as great as they do. This is easily one of the most expensive TV Shows ever made, and no expense appears to have been spared (and it looks a whole lot more real and polished than another popular space-set series that has been streaming for a few years now).
The acting is strong thus far, with Schrieber (best known for his work as Pornstache on Orange is the New Black )really embodying the stoic, emotionless demeanour of Master Chief. I was also a fan of Natasha McElhone as Dr. Catherine Halsey and Yerin Ha (also at SXSW with SISSY) as Quan Ha. Their work is compelling and does a great job lifting up the story coming together under a plethora of exposition. My main concern so far – which may be alleviated with future episodes – is that the Series does not seem to have any sense of personality. Some may decry the lack of humour as the reason (though they will likely gravitate towards the scene-stealing turn from Character Actor Bokeem Woodbine as Master Chief’s old friend Soren), yet I think it is more complicated than that. The Creators spent so much time trying to get the look and feel of the Video Game franchise just right (up to and including the HUD fans should know all too well) that they did not stop and think about how to keep the non-fans invested, and how to differentiate the story for a new medium. Much of this should be ironed out in future episodes, but I sincerely hope the series does not sink under mountains of story exposition or wait until the already greenlit Season 2 to adjust.
The first episode of HALO premieres on Thursday, March 24, 2022 on Paramount+ with new episodes every following Thursday.
Be sure to read more here about what we learned from the Cast at this year’s Television Critics Week.
HALO screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Monday, March 14 at 5:00pm EST – Paramount Theatre
As part of Television Critics Week celebrations, we were invited to sit-in on a panel for upcoming TV Series adaptation HALO. The military Science-Fiction series based on the wildly-popular Video Game, takes us into the 26th century where humanity face the threat of the Covenant, an alien entity. Set to premiere March on Paramount+, the Series developed by Kyle Killen and Steven Kane, stars Pablo Schreiber, Bokeem Woodbine, Charlie Murphy and Natasha McElhone.
Joining us on the Panel were:
Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer
Steven Kane, Executive Producer
Justin Falvey, Executive Producer
Darryl Frank, Executive Producer
Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill talks about adapting this beloved Video Game to TV and what’s involved with setting-up the backdrop in which this story is set against.
Wolfkill: “Adapting a beloved Video Game with 20 years of history, story and character development is a daunting task, but really gratifying. For us we looked at ‘How do we take the essence of the gaming experience and really express it in our own unique voice?’. From that, we set-out to build a 26th century Sci-Fi world with brutal aliens and spartan super-soldiers, artificial intelligence, military politics and ancient mystery. But at the same time against that backdrop, really tell some really personal stories and explore the humanity or lack thereof, of our characters.”.
Pablo Schreiber stars in the lead role of Master Chief and talks about landing this coveted gig.
Schreiber: “We’re very squarely in the Halo universe. It’s a show for people who love the Halo universe and just discovering the Halo universe. Master Chief is one of the most iconic and heroic characters of all time. The opportunity to explore those themes and ideas, the relationship between the warrior and the hero – what’s the similarities and where do they diverge, is what’s really interesting for me.”.
He also talks about the experience working with his Castmates on the Series.
Schreiber: “It was really wonderful to get to work with all the performers. Obviously Chief and Cortana have a very special relationship, but the history between Chief and Halsey, played by the wonderful Natasha McElhone obviously is another central core relationship. Our work together was wonderful. The Chief and Soren have this very tortured and long history as well, but also very close. So to get to do that with Bokeem also was very amazing. We also introduce a couple new characters into the lore. To get to bring Charlie‘s character Makee in and I have a lot of stuff with her towards the end of the season, is really fantastic and Charlie is amazing. And this incredible new performer Yerin Ha, came in and is playing Kwan Ha, which is a brand-new character created for our Show. To get to do all of that, to create history and continuity of the franchise, and to create all these new characters, all of it was such a thrill.”.
Natasha McElhone talks about what Halo means to her and her family.
McElhone: “I have a strange relationship with the game in that my first experience with it was finding my husband with my then one-year-old son, sitting on his lap playing Halo when he should’ve been cooking, so it was a distraction – a beloved one – in our household. So it’s very strange that it should come back around and here I find myself as part of the team bringing it to TV which is thrilling for all my kids because they all love to play Halo.”.
She tells us about her character, Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey.
McElhone: “In terms of Halsey, everyone knows who she is in the game. I hope I’m building from that and the legacy that Jen (Taylor) helped create when she voices her in the game. We were trying to deep some of the other elements of the characters and perhaps build a few more branches on the tree. I’m definitely seeing her as someone who’s misunderstood.”.
Bokeem Woodbine talks about his connection the Video Game and his character, Soren.
Woodbine: “He’s enterprising, innovative, hard-working, industrious, not without some charm. He’s got his eyes on the prize at all times. As far as Halo‘s concerned, I remember when it first came out, all my friends were Halo heads. I didn’t necessarily play myself, but I spent countless hours hanging out. None of us were rich back then, so I remember hanging-out in little ratty apartments, watching my friends play Halo for hours. It’s a lot of fun to watch people play because the landscape is ever-changing, kinda like watching a movie. So to be able for this to come around and participate in it, is really a thrill.”.
Justin Falvey, Executive Producer tells us on the long-term plan for the Series.
Falvey: “Our intention is to produce several seasons of the Show. There’s a lot of story to tell. And as Pablo indicated, we have so many buckets we can dip into with these pre-existing characters and these new characters. Talk about a world-building show, it speaks on every level to execute that wonderfully with the people we have in place. Hopefully we’ll be doing this for some time now.”.
HALO premieres March 24, 2022 on Paramount+.
(Photo/video credit: Paramount)
Summer’s over and not only is it back-to-school, it’s back-to-work for grown-ups! Starring in Jay Barcuhel-written and directed Feature RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE, Jordana Brewster has been working away this summer in Toronto. After a short break back in L.A. and time with her family, she head back to town to complete work on the Elevation Pictures release. The Film centers on two Comic Book Artists who notice their characters are eerily-similar to horrific real-life events.
Brewster known best for her work in the The Fast and the Furious Franchise is a veteran at her craft, getting her start as a Soap Opera star, seen most recently in TV Series, Lethal Weapon.
See our Snap with beautiful and gracious Brewster, plus others returning back to Toronto this weekend for work, including the men of American Gods Season Two (Demore Barnes, Pablo Schneider, Bruce Langley, Ricky Whittle) some who were in Atlanta for Dragon Con this weekend! We also spotted out v. own Aaron Ashmore back from Dragon Con too to continue work on Killjoys.
It's not only back-to-school, it's back-to-work for several stars in the City including: #FastandFurious star #JordanaBrewster (#RandonActsofViolence) • #PabloSchreiber (#AmericanGods) • #RickyWhittle (#AmericanGods) • #AaronAshmore (#TheKilljoys) • #BruceLangley (#AmericanGods) • #DemoreBarnes (#AmericanGods) • #RubyOFee
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
What good is some sun on a weekend if it can’t be enjoyed right? We spotted some stars out and about this weekend including the hotly-buzzed Greenwood Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, some returning back to work after a breather.
Our second home Woodbine Racetrack, was where it was at this past Saturday as Toronto’s A-List gathered under the sun trackside for cocktails, racing, music, fashion and fun at the Greenwood Stakes. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Vancouver’s Deighton Cup, the affair saw socalities abound including the likes of Suzanne Rogers, Glen Baxter (Fashion Television), Shadowhunters’ Dominic Sherwood, The Umbrella Academy‘s Jordan C. Robbins and more! Sherwood tells us he neither won or loss at the races, but does appear to know a thing or two having been to Royal Ascot in his native England.
We hope the bustling event which takes its inspiration from both Royal Ascot and the Kentucky Derby, will come back again soon!
See some Snaps. Hover cursor left and right below and click arrows to navigate slideshow:
Loved reuniting with old friends at the #GreenwoodStakes! In celebration of Vancouver’s #DeightonCup’s 10th anniversary, #Toronto’s A-List got to experience the magic of Royal Ascot x the excitement of the Kentucky Derby at @woodbinetb! Swipe left! 1. @GreenwoodStakes Step and Repeat 2. #SteveZissou-inspired Art Installation by @thecrazyplatelady 3. Graffiti by @durothethird 4. @veuveclicquotcanada 5. @tonymgattellaro, @gofilly x @coreyfraser 6. @APicbyMrwill got a visit from the lovely @andreabolley6mom 7. St. Mary Alumni reunite! With my buddy @SimonJain 8. #Shadowhunters star #DomSherwood and @JordanCRobbins. 9. Ahi Tuna Poké Bowl 10. Spicy Meatball Poutine
We posted a complete Album on Facebook here.
Also don’t forget to check-out our Webseries with Woodbine Racetrack, MR. WILL’S PATH TO THE PLATE, as we near our favourite Festival of the Summer, the Queen’s Plate! Episodes are out every Thursday leading-up to the Festival and each week we meet a new Contender and the unsung heroes in their success stories!
Catch-up on episodes 1 though 4 here.
Emmy Raver-Lampman already is a star of the stage having appeared on Broadway in Wicked and Hamilton. She has landed a high-profile gig as Allison in Netflix‘s upcoming Series The Umbrella Academy based on My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way‘s Comic Books. While the Series isn’t due till 2019, it will continue to film till July in Toronto.
Three-time Grammy winner Ben Harper plays The Mod Club tonight in support of 14th Studio Disc No Mercy in this Land. The veteran Singer/Songwriter was all smiles arriving from L.A. with his Band and Crew.
We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Pablo Schreiber a few times now but it’s always nice seeing him, a class act. He returns to Toronto to begin work on season two of AMERICAN GODS after some delays. You know him as Pornstache from acclaimed Netflix Series Orange is the New Black, something which on paper seems unflattering but believe us, that is a good thing!
We have come so close to meeting Emily Browning a few times but we’re thrilled finally to get a Selfie with the talented Australian-born Actress. She filmed Pomepeii opposite Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) a few summers back and we missed her again when she promoted Legend alongside Tom Hardy at TIFF! While she was in a bit of a rush after waiting on all her luggage she was kind to stop for a rush of fans off her flight. Like Schreiber, she also stars in Series American Gods.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
Premiering during tonight’s Super Bowl was the thrilling new Trailer for SKYSCRAPER starring Dwayne Johnson!
Global icon Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Legendary’s Skyscraper as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building…above the fire line.
See the Trailer:
Universal Pictures Canada release Friday, July 13, 2018.
(Photo/video credit: Universal Pictures Canada)
A new Trailer and release date have been set for Action-Thriller DEN OF THEIVES, starring Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
A Los Angeles crime saga in the vein of “Heat”, DEN OF THIEVES follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.
See the Trailer:
VVS Films release DEN OF THIEVES Friday, January 18, 2018.
(Photo/video credit: VVS Films)
We know and love him most as George “Pornstache” Mendez in acclaimed Netflix Series Orange is the new Black, but would you recognize the handsome star of the screen and stage if he walked by you? We almost didn’t!
Vancouver-born Pablo Schreiber makes it back to his land of birth, in Toronto today promoting Michael Bay‘s latest effort 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The Drama based on true events is set one year after 9/11, centering on six soldiers who attempt to make sense of the chaos which ensues after a U.S. Ambassador is assasinated in Libya. James Badge Dale and John Krasinski also are among the talented Cast.
Schreiber was caught in traffic earlier making it just in-time to his KISS 92.5 appearance on The Roz & Mocha Show, surprised he had a dozen fans in-waiting. In a rush, he apologized to fans as he made his way to his next appearance at CBC on Q. The Actor, who once had basketball aspirations before changing his major thankfully to Theatre in college, promised fans he’s stop for photos later in the day and he did exactly as promised.
He also surprised fans appearing unannounced at a Toronto screening of the Film last night too, introducing it to fans!
It’s #Pornstache! Amazing meeting the handsome and talented #PabloSchreiber today. He’s here for #13Hours, the latest from #MichaelBay. #OITNB #Selfie #OrangeistheNewBlack A photo posted by Mr. Will Wong ⛄ (@mrwillwong) on
Paramount Pictures Canada release 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI Friday, January 15, 2016 in select Canadian cities. It opens wide Friday, January 22, 2016.
(Photo/video credit: Paramount Pictures Canada/Mr. Will Wong)
Michael Bay Fans will be excited to see 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI, a gritty new Drama based on true events and ready to hit theatres this upcoming Awards Season! With hotly-buzzed Films coming, are John Krasinski and Emily Blunt (with TIFF ’15 Selection SICARIO) Hollywood’s new Power Couple?
It is the story of the six members of a security team who fought to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, after the attack of radical Islamist terrorists on September 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks.
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI stars John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale and Toby Stephens.
See the Trailer:
Paramount Pictures Canada release 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI on Friday, January 15, 2016.
(Photo/video credit: Paramount Pictures)
Trends may come and go, but one thing is for sure, orange is the new black! Netflix Canada and Mr. Will Wong are thrilled to give Readers the chance to win an iPod Touch, a six-month Netflix Canada Membership and even more, an Orange is the New Black Prize Pack including a signed copy of the Novel by Piper Kerman, on which the Series is based. If it’s any indication just how good the Series is, a second Season of already has been green-lit. Even more, Regina Spektor has been confirmed to pen its Theme Song, out on iTunes tomorrow!
Created and Executive-Produced by Jenji Kohan (Weeds) and based on the U.S. best-selling Memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, the Comedic-Drama starring Taylor Schilling follows engaged-Brooklynite, Piper Chapman (Schilling), whose decade-old relationship with drug-runner Alex (Laura Prepon) results in her arrest and year-long detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper must trade her comfortable New York life with Fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs) for an orange jumpsuit and a baffling prison culture where she is forced to question everything she believes and form unexpected new alliances with a group of eccentric and outspoken inmates. The Series also stars Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Pablo Schreiber, Danielle Brooks, Matt McGorry, Laverne Cox and Taryn Manning.
See the Trailer below:
To enter to win all the above, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook before Sunday, July 14, 2013. Double your chances by sharing this Post on Facebook with your Friends or Re-Tweeting the below:
http://www.mrwillwong.com/orangeisthenewblack @MRWILLW wants us to #win an #OrangeisthenewBlack Prize Pack, an iPod Touch and a six-month #Netflix membership!
Canadian Readers only, please. Good luck, Wongsters!
Neflix releases Orange is the New Black Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:01 PAC.
(Photo/video credit: Netflix)
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