Back when Halo 3 was about to come out, Microsoft hired Neill Blomkamp—who'd go on to make District 9—to do some live-action ads for the game. They were neat!
For Halo 4, Microsoft's tapped visual effects guy Tim Miller (director) and motherfuckin' David Fincher (producer) to make this, which... is neither as good nor as interesting as Blomkamp's stuff.
It says a fair amount about the risk-averse state of Hollywood that even Halo is thought of as currently being too risky to greenlight, but at some point a Halo movie will happen, and this feels as much like a proof-of-concept reel for movie studios as it does an ad. Which makes me think about why, so far, videogames haven't translated well to film. The traditional reason offered is that videogames lack stories and characters that're good enough, but that's becoming less and less legit—games like Mass Effect and Halo have stories, mythologies, and settings that run laps around a lot of successful movies'. The bigger issue, I think, is the fundamental difference between mediums: Videogames are interactive, in that the good ones provide you an intriguing playground and make you an active participant, while films are passive, in that the good ones make you open yourself up to what the filmmaker's expressing. Blomkamp's ads work like film: They're distinct and engaging and a little bit weird and they pull you into a new world—one that, notably, has a different look and tone than the actual Halo 3 game did. Miller's tries to more closely approximate Halo 4, and instead comes across as stressing all the goofiest aspects of the game—specifically, visuals that will might work great in the game, but don't translate nearly as well to film. (FLAMING SCREAMING SKULL.) There's a reason videogames have been able to take a lot more from film than vice versa, and I'm pretty sure it boils down to an awareness of how vastly different the mediums are—at first glance, they appear to share more than they actually do. Right now, videogame designers seem to understand film a lot better than most filmmakers seem to understand games.
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