The stinging pain of what almost was still remains in the hearts of Halo fans across the world after the untimely death of a proposed feature-length film from back in the mid 2000’s.
Originally set to be directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, difficulties between Microsoft and Universal regarding budget, profit sharing and the amount of creative control demanded by the software giant ultimately left the project in limbo.
In a bold promotional move ahead of the release of the hotly anticipated Halo 4 video game on November 6, Microsoft has crafted the tie-in film Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, which marks the company’s largest investment in a live-action promotion.
Broken up into 20 (or so) minute chunks and set to debut each week on Machinima Prime leading up to the game’s release, Forward Unto Dawn has premiered its first episode online and though the series has thus far only offered what is relatively cursory glance, it’s looking to be an immensely impressive endeavour.
Set In 2525, 20 years before the events of Halo 4, Forward Unto Dawn follows group of cadets training at the military academy Corbulo on planet Circinius-IV, primed to wage war against outer-rim human insurrectionists.
The story centers on one such soldier named Thomas Laskey (played by Tom Green – don’t worry, not that one) who has doubts regarding his abilities as a soldier and the purpose of the war to begin with. The battle comes to them however as the facility is attacked by an alien race. Luckily though, the cadets are narrowly rescued by John-117 (a.k.a. The Master Chief). With the stakes having been exponentially raised, the legendary super soldier must inspire Laskey to become the soldier he knows he can be.
The intense action teased in the trailer has not yet be unleashed in this first episode, but the special effects, costumes and practical set design are hugely impressive and should be more than enough to get the blood of geeks everywhere pumping. Chain-gun clad Warthog, a landing Pelican Dropship, we get a solid look (and ultimately a tease) of what’s to come. Forward Unto Dawn, though an independent endeavour, has all the impressive visual gravitas on display to rival any big budget blockbuster.
However, amongst the positives of the show, the most significant aspect apparent that may hinder the series from reaching true greatness is the acting. Though the cast by no means offers up outwardly poor work (Green is solid in the lad role) the cast of relatively unknown (and generally inexperienced) young actors can come across as somewhat hammy. That being said, when the bullets begin to fly, I doubt anyone will care.
The elephant in the room (or should I say Hunter in the spaceship) concerning Forward Unto Dawn is if this series can reassure a major studio that a feature Halo film can not only work but is worth a) the money and b) trusting Microsoft with more control over the project. Regardless if that ever comes to fruition, it’s looking pretty clear that we’ll still have a fantastic (pseudo) adaptation of the seminal video game.
We’ll be sure to bring you coverage of the four remaining episodes and in the meantime check out the premiere below and let us know what you think.