|After escaping from the Battle of Reach, Captain Jacob Keyes and his crew, aboard the Halcyon-class battlecruiser The Pillar of Autumn, have discovered an ancient ring in an uncharted area of the universe. Soon after their discovery, they are attacked by several Covenant ships that had followed them from Reach. Their only option is to abandon ship, but not without a fight. Keyes orders their secret weapon to be awakened from cryo-sleep, Master Chief John: Spartan-117. He is, thought to be, the last of the super human soldiers created on Reach known as Spartans. After a noble fight, the Master Chief abandons the ship as well, taking Cortana with him, the A.I. heart of the Pillar of Autumn. He will soon be on a quest that will unveil many secrets about the ring, some of which should lay buried forever... Only this shadow turns out to be literally thousands of Covenants drop ships! (I can’t wait for these WETA toys!) We cut to a battlefield across the wasteland where the Spartans and the Covenant are locked in ferocious combat. The Spartans are super-warriors. Combat machines – except that beneath their armor is genetically refined human flesh and blood. Despite their physical size, they are fast. We watch them turn-aim-fire, the speed of their reaction is unnatural. They seem fuelled by nitrous oxide and amphetamines. There is something hypnotic about the way they fight. Amidst the chaos, there are patterns. Across the battlefield, we can see precise movements echoed from Spartan to Spartan. The same motion in the way a weapon is raised, the leap and roll to avoid an explosion. The Spartan Warrior training is embedded deep within them.
The Covenant provides a contrast. Among the various species that make up the alien ranks, we can see the tall and regal ELITES, the massive HUNTERS, the gorilla-sized GRUNTS, and the thin and feral JACKALS. Cool, huh? They fight with their own brand of specialized ultra violence. Less controlled than their human enemy, they are zealots, rabid. They roar as they charge, plasma blazing from their weaponry. In close quarters, they tear and rip and claw. Many more of the alien warriors are falling and dying. In comparison to the Spartans, the Covenant is far, far greater in number. As we watch the scene unfold, something becomes very clear. The tide of the battle is turning inexorably against the humans. We cut to MC maintaining a barrage of fire as the Spartans to the left and right of him are lacerated by plasma fire. We cut to another Spartan as a plasma grenade sticks to his chest. He double sup to protect his brothers then flies apart as the grenade explodes. We cut to another Spartan walking: dazed, blackened, blood-smeared, half his armor blown from his body, half his arm hanging useless at his side. We cut to a group of three Spartan driving a WARTHOG VEHICLE – one driving, one on shotgun, one on the rear canon – as hey break ranks to charge the enemy then skid, roll and die under a rain of fire. Here, and throughout, the combat feels real. Hard, bloody, and brutal. We cut to the city burning, then to the twin suns blazing, and then to black and silence. The year is 2552. A coalition of alien species, the Covenant, is waging a genocidal holy war against mankind and mankind is losing.
Now that is what I call an opening folks. We cut to Outer Space to a gas-giant planet and orbiting the planet, there is what appears to be a vast metal ring: the circumference of a small moon rotating slowly. We can just make out a strange feature of the metallic band. The interior is a wrap-around landscape, made up of the same foliage-greens, water-blues and dust-yellows we know from views of our planet. It is as if someone has cut a strip from Earth and lined the inside of this artificial world. HALO. A rip in space occurs and out of the fissure, a human built battle cruiser appears – THE PILLAR OF AUTUMN.
Hulking, grey, massive – a great block of a space ship, as solid as a concrete bomb-shelter, designed purely for war. On the underside of its snub nose, a portal, behind which is the bridge where a man stands, gazing out. The commander of this vessel: CAPTAIN KEYES. He looks out at the planet and its ring moon. Behind him, the bridge crew is at their posts, manning the flight decks. He surveys the scene and calls out for CORTANA. Only none of the bridge crew responds. Instead, he is replied by a female voice – the voice of the Pillar of Autumn’s artificial intelligence. He asks Cortana two questions, where the hell are they, and did we lose them. Cortana responds that they made a blind jump. She scans the constellations to get a fix on their position, as for whether they lost them…Captain Keyes sees for himself as we see multiple slip space fissures, similar to the one from which the Pillar of Autumn appeared. Through each fissure, COVENANT CAPITAL SHIPS appear. Cortana is like at least we’ve drawn them away from Earth. But in ninety seconds, the Covenant will be all over them. Keyes issues combat alert alpha. Cortana orders all hands to combat posts and to prepare to repel boarders. On the lower deck, Engineers and Medics scramble to position. Marines grab hardware from weapon racks, pulling on helmets and flak jackets. One group of soldiers stands as a contrast to the adrenaline and commotion. An oasis of calm. This is MAJOR SILVA and his men the HELLJUMPERS – the special-forces unit stationed on the Pillar of Autumn. Major Silva tells the Helljumpers that a shit storm is coming. He smiles and tells his men, “let’s spill blood.” Fighter craft spill from the flight bays to intercept the incoming Covenant craft. Captain Keyes looks out as the stream of tiny fighter craft, dwarfed in both size and number by the approaching enemy vessels. The first of them are already being engaged by Covenant fighters. The battle has begun but Captain Keyes is looking beyond it to Halo. He wants to know more about it. Cortana responds unknown, artificial, it’s not a space station and not occupied by Covenant. It’s nitrogen and oxygen rich. Life supporting. That is all Keyes needs to hear. Keyes orders Cortana to get in close. They are on approach vector now and Keyes tells Cortana that it is time to wake their war dog!
We cut back to MC’s dream and we are back under the blood-red twin suns and close quarters combat with the Covenant. MC seems to be alone in this fight. The last of the Spartans. He fires into faces and chests of the Covenant troops at near point blank range. He is completed surrounded by the aliens. Under his feet are tangled carpets of bodies. The image whites out and fades back in to the Cyro-Storage chamber. MC wakes up. Two Cyro engineers are in awe of him. One of them is like Holy Christ, would you look at the size of it. His buddy tells him there’s a man in there. The door to the Cyro-Storage chamber cracks its seal, and then rises open. The Spartan lunges forwards, reflexively, snapped into consciousness. The two engineers jump back. MC reaches out to place a hand either side of the Cyro-Chamber, then steps out. He takes a moment as he surveys his surroundings. Looks to the left, then his right. Then down at the two men. He towers over them and they seem to shrink under the blank gaze of his visor as he speaks his first words on page 10 of this script. “What are my orders?” Now that is dialogue. That is cool. You don’t even have to be a fan of the game to know that in movie talk, those 4 words speak volumes about his character and what he does. A guy who gets the job done. That is the dialogue of a shit kicker who does what he does and the following is an example.
As MC makes his way through a route corridor, a handful of Marines are crouched behind a makeshift barricade, in an intense firefight with the invading Covenant. MC assesses the situation and takes a Sergeant’s assault rifle and two grenades from the Sergeant’s belt clip and steps up to the barricade. Beneath him, a Marine Corporal crouches holding an M6D pistol in hand. The Corporal’s nametag reads JENKINS. MC chucks the two grenades into the shadows. He empties his clip. After the double detonation of the grenades, a GRUNT appears. The foot soldier of the Covenant army. Normally – stocky, broad, and powerful. But this Grunt is dazed and badly wounded. Blue blood is splashing from his torso. MC reaches down and takes the Corporal’s M6D pistol. He glances at the handgun – and sees that the Corporal has customized it. Carved into the metal are the words: NOTHING PERSONAL. MC raises the pistol and puts a single round through the head of the wounded Grunt. The awestuck Jenkins lets MC keep his handgun. MC enters the bridge and reports to Keyes who gets MC up to speed and tells him they’re in the shit. Keyes tells MC that he is going to get Cortana off this ship and keep her safe from the enemy. The Pillar of Autumn is going down and Cortana is not going down with it. Destruction or capture of the shipboard AI is not an option. If the Covenant captures her, they’ll learn everything. Force deployment, system schematics, weapons research. Not to mention the location of planet Earth.
Meanwhile, on the lower deck Major Silva and the Helljumpers are locked in their own savage firefight. Keyes gives the order over the ship wide intercom to abandon ship and to take lifeboats, drop-ships, any means of escape available. Regroup on the ring. Back on the bridge, MC stands with Keyes who uses his fingerprint to unlock and open a section of the central bridge console. MC takes the Cortana chip and inserts it into a dock in his mjolnir armor – positioned in the back of his neck, the brain stem. MC leaves and makes his way down a narrow service tunnel towards the main corridor to the lifeboats. A covenant soldier stands in his way, an ELITE – tall, armored, athletic, in a sense the alien equivalent of the Spartan. A cobra strike – a classic game move, MC strikes with the butt of his assault rifle, taking out Elite’s shields and empties a clip into the alien’s torso. Thirty rounds fly through the gun in two seconds. MC then takes out 4 other grunts. Cortana is in good hands. She can talk to MC through his suit, which is hardwired into his neural network, and she is hardwired into his suit. An Elite, three jackals and four grunts get dropped and shredded with rounds as we see what it is like to be on the receiving end of a Spartan attack. MC makes it to the Lifeboat with some wounded marines. A female Lieutenant pilots the craft towards Halo. We follow the lifeboat as it enters Halo’s interior curve. We see other lifeboats from the Pillar of Autumn, following the same downward path, like a miniature meteor shower. The lifeboat crashes on Halo and only MC survives. MC steps out and watches the Pillar of Autumn crash land on Halo’s surface. MC hides and watches as some grunts and Blue and Black Elite search for survivors from the lifeboat crash. They see a foot print of MC and go after MC in GHOSTS – lightweight-scouting vehicles, each piloted by a single Elite, armed with two plasma canons. MC takes them out – won’t spoil it here but a cool sequence. MC pilots one of hijacked ghosts and plasma canons a firefight between surviving Marines from another lifeboat and the Covenant.
And that is just Act 1 or the first 30 pages of this tour de force 128 page script!
Here is a sneak peek of some key scenes in the beginning of Act 2, which starts with MC talking to the Sergeant and tells him he needs to regroup with the other survivors who must be scattered all over. The Sergeant made contact with a Pelican drop ship pilot who survived, name of Carol Rawley. Call-sign- FOEHAMMER. Apparently, Foehammer and MC go back.
At the crash Pillar of Autumn crash site – the Covenant swarm above it excited and triumphant at the destruction of the enemy vessel. Inside, Captain Keyes and some flight deck crewmembers survived the crash in the bridge. A cluster of Plasma grenades blows the barricade to the bridge apart. The Covenant forces swarm over the destroyed barricade and pour into the bridge. We meet the JACKAL: the slender, hunched, bird-like Covenant. The Jackal advances with its comrades like a roman centurion, firing from and crouching behind the distorting window of an energy shield. They slaughter the survivors and swarm over Captain Keyes.
The survivors of the Pillar of Autumn manage to make a base camp.
MC sustained an injury with his tussle with the Ghost – MC removes the breastplate of his armor. Beneath is a black body suit made of flexible material, and on this body suit, we can see various lacerations around his torso. Through these lacerations, MC’s torso is partially revealed, and we catch our first glimpse of his actual flesh. His skin is colored an abnormal sunless snow-white.
MC dreams again and Cortana appears in her purplish blue light form in the form of a hot chick. MC removes his helmet – his skin is bleached white and his head his shaved to the scalp. The dream is of Planet Reach where one hundred and sixty four men, women, and children died. The Spartans failed to defend it. MC is the last of the Spartan who was airlifted out of there by Foehammer. For the fans that must know, we don’t really ever see MC’s face. Later on in the movie towards the end, on an extreme close-up on MC’s Face we occupy the same space he does, inside his suit. We see a series of flash cuts: his skin, his mouth, and his eyes. The face is marked with a fine mesh of scars, suggesting past injuries, or surgical procedures, or even experiments. His skin is a map of past conflict. To me it appears that MC is albino.
Anyway, at the base camp Major Silva and his boys interrogate a captured Elite. We find out that Keyes let himself be taken alive. The Covenant has him on board their orbiting battle cruiser: Truth and Reconciliation. Cortana finally appears to everybody and tells Silva that they are going in there because it is an opportunity for an AI to access the Covenant computer system. If they could get Cortana to any kind of control panel, they could learn everything about the Covenant – their weaknesses, their plans. It’s the kind of breakthrough that could turn the path of this war.
MC, Major Silva and the Helljumpers manage to sneak onto the loading bay of the Covenant ship Truth and Reconciliation. They run into HUNTERS: Twelve foot tall, six foot wide, covered head to toe in blue armor, a Fuel-Rod canon integrated into the right arm – which glows green as it is charging up to fire – and a shield integrated into its left arm.
The group finds Captain Keyes in one of the torture cells. He is strapped to an intricate machine, organic in design, crackling with energy. From the machine, around his bare arms and torso, are literally thousands of tiny barbed segmented needle – like insect legs. They are buried in his flesh.
The midpoint of the script takes place at base camp where Cortana, holographicly manifested, debriefs Captain Keyes, Major Silva, Master Chief, Foehammer, and a handful of marine officers. The orbital was constructed by an ancient race, known by the Covenant as the “Forerunners.” It seems that they left ruins and artifacts all over the galaxy. Some of those artifacts are the technology that the Covenant employs. And another of those artifacts is this ring they call Halo. The Covenant decided, for reasons best known to themselves, that humankind was an object of blasphemy, requiring extinction. In Halo, we now appear to have found an object of worship. Halo is their church, and the Forerunners are their Gods. According to the Covenant message traffic, Halo is a weapon. What kind of weapon isn’t clear, the Covenant themselves don’t know but they repeatedly describe the destructive power as ‘unimaginable.’ When the Pillar of Autumn crashed, the Covenant believes it disrupted something under the ring surface. The mission is clear. If Halo is a weapon, then the Covenant must be prevented from being able to use it. The Covenant refers to a location called “The Silent Cartographer”. It seems to be a map room, which reveals the position of Halo’s control center. Obviously, that control center is the best bet of shutting the system down.
Usually the midpoint act break is where I end my script reviews but to those entire Halo fanatic out there who must know what else happens and what else is in it –
- There is a Beach attack sequence between the Marines and the Covenant. MC pilots the warthog – the multi terrain four-wheel vehicle and we get to see MC driving ability. We see the Grunts use the needlers in this sequence too.
- Inside Halo, the Marines are ambushed by the Stealth Elite who brandish their energy swords and literally cut their enemies in half. Cool sequence.
- Later we see the FLOOD INFECTION FORMS – each the size of a football, bloated, propelled by a seething carpet of small tentacles on the underside on the underside of its main form. We also see the horror and goriness of the Flood infection vessels upon the infected marines and Covenant.
We meet the monitor of Zero Four – 343 Guilty Spark who annoys MC.
There are some other twists and turns and I am not going to spoil the end but it’s huge! Hardcore fans of the series won’t be disappointed because the ending is from the game