November 3, 2012

Halo's 'Forward Unto Dawn' Reviewed

Here's my review of the Forward Unto Dawn Series done piecemeal as I watched each episode. 

The verdict? It's good Halo, but not great Halo.

Episode One in which I'm reminded of the expression great grey green greasy Limpopo river

So I finally had a chance to watch the first episode of Forward Unto Dawn. Colour me underwhelmed. Cliched, slow and way too much teenage agnst. Oooh my mum doesn't love me, my brother's probably dead  and the hot chick is just, well hot.

Loved the production values, the grey / green tone that permeated and everything. I really enjoyed seeing the General turn up in a Warthog.

Overall, it did however simply feel like a very expensive fan made home movie, Frankly I just want to see some guns blazing and a big green guy kicking ass.

I really hope the next episodes of Forward Unto Dawn crank up into high gear. The potential is there for this project to be a really strong piece of science fiction however based on the first episode, it looks like we have Halo for Twilight fans.

Episode Two in which we watch paint dry

What can I say? Nothing much happens in this second part of the FUD series. Again, it's a cliche mix of growing pains, military complex and no Master Chief.

I guess, the only really interesting thing about the part was a blink and you'll miss it cameo by 343 Industries' Frank O'Conner as "Beamish" - you might know him as director of the Halo franchise. He looked kind of evil, as if he was just aching to give the lil punk soliders the bash.

Episode Three in which things get a little hot and heavy

This Narnian got pashed
The third episode of Forward Unto Dawn has been released. It is finally time to sort the men from the boys, the cadets from the captains of war.

It's time to introduce the Covenant.

You might have read me bitch about how slow the build up has been thus far in the FUD series - so it was pleasing to see some real action happen. The Covenant have found the UNSC training base and have sent in three ship loads of Covenant forces to destroy all that they can find.

We got to see an enormous elite, a betrayal and finally the Big Green Guy. Hopefully the action will continue and even ratchet up a notch, as for me, Halo is not about allergies to drugs that prevent you from joining the war or pashing the girl from Narnia, it's about taking down the bad guys. Which has actually yet to happen.....

The quality of the film is pretty good, there's some good acting, nice music and the general tone is pitched just right (aside from being slow).

Episode Four in which the Chief makes like the House of Pain and jumps around...

The pace picks up with the fourth episode of the Forward Unto Dawn series.

Faced with certain death, the cadets manage to find themselves cornered by a Elite. Caught by fear and a lack of weaponry they appear doomed until the Big Green Guy turns up to save the day with a cliched take-down-the-enemy-from-behind move to introduce the character. Cheesey, but it worked for a fine introduction of the Chief.

From there, our now armed and motivated cadets are escorted by the Chief to a Warthog so as to make an extraction point with a Pelican. Our heroes are besieged by a crew of Jackals who are raining green lasers and pink crystal shards from a roof top. 

The camera work is fast and furious with a technique of showing a lot of action in slow motion which then lapses in to real time. A shot of the Chief jumping from a fair height and completing a land that would have put him into Olympic medal contention was very well done.

As I watched, I wistfully rued once more that I was watching 'Halo movie light' and not the full Hollywood production that Peter Jackson had planned.

I appreciated what appeared to be a nod to the infamous power of the original Halo: Combat Evolved pistol - the Chief managed to take down 2 or 3 Jackals with single shots from a fair distance.

Not sure where part 5 is going to take us, the simple plot story line suggests nothing major in terms of Halo canon will occur but maybe we'll get to see the next episode from the point of view of the Arbiter..... ;)

Episode Five in which the Master Chief proves he's the Master Chief

It's been a long time coming for Forward Unto Dawn to go all Black Hawk on our ass and whileepisode 4 started to cranking into some real Halo action, the fifth and final webisode of the FUD series delivered an epic set piece worthy of having the Halo name attached.

If you'll recall the events of FUD 4, our heroes were making a dash in a Warthog for a Pelican to beat a hasty exist off the Planet. With a knowing nod to the Halo CE Warthog' mechanics, Laskey comments that the Warthog is hard to drive. I think it would be too if your exit route was paved with Jackals!

Our heroes are forced to stop after driving over a very keen Jackal which leads to them realising their foe has withdrawn. The Chief figures out they are being hunted and so begins the climax of the series, the Chief taking down a Hunter.

Correction, make that two Hunters - as any Halo fan will know, the Mgalekgolo always hunt in pairs. The production values of FUD really shine at the point, a silhouette of a Hunter against a forest backdrop is truly  menacing and a fantastic set piece where the Master Chief climbs on the back of one to implant a grenade within its wormy structure serves as a fitting climax to the series.

What this does show, for this writer anyway, is that if a Halo movie is to work, it needs to feature the Master Chief and lots of him. The extremely long slow burn to get to some action was painful as a viewer to behold.  Too many characters in the first three episodes where introduced and were effectively merely set up cannon fodder for Covenant troops. Frankly, any old trooper could have been killed along the way for shock value. 

That said, it will keep me up at night wondering how this guy died.

If the Gears of War movie gets off the ground, it will be interesting to see how they hand the pace of the film. if done well that could perhaps serve as a (beer making) guide to how a proper Halo movie could be made.

A nice coda at the end of the episode shows Laskey as a war veteran aboard the UNSC Infinityvessel (remembering an old love), thus suggesting he might feature in the Halo 4 game and some what poignantly tying in the name of series into the whole thread of the Halo cannon.

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