Halo is slowly but surely making its mark as a franchise. What started out as a rather good video game has gently stretched into a full-on multi-media experience, with its own backstory and wide range of tabletop games, toys and live-action low budget movies. One of the limitations it has, however, is that its main hero, the Master Chief, is a blank slate. Great for first-person shooters, but rubbish for storytelling.
Halo: The Fall of Reach is an attempt to fix this, and is a prequel of sorts to the whole Halo series. Set before the invasion of The Covenant (Halo’s zealous and villainous aliens), it explores the origins of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, aka the Master Chief himself. It also goes into the nature of the super-soldier Spartan programme that gave him his remarkable abilities, and gives us some insight into the nature of his fellow troopers, Blue Squad, who are similarly enhanced.
All of this is designed to tie-in with the novel of the same name, as well as foreshadow events in the recently released Halo 5. As a piece of perfectly moulded marketing, it’s great. As an animated piece of entertainment, however, it falls short. Like many origin stories, the problem is that we know the ending; John becomes Master Chief. The point of the exercise should be to add depth to the character, but sadly all we get is that John-117 was a bit sad that people died to make the Spartan super-soldiers. There’s no character development, and because this is CGI the acting is wooden and lacklustre.
The animation is not bad, but it’s nothing to write home about. Unlike the excellent live-action Halo movies, CGI is unforgiving of low budgets and, coupled with unremarkable voice acting, this makes for a less than stellar feature. With a bigger budget and a tighter script, Halo: The Fall of Reach could be a tense sci-fi thriller about the lengths mankind will go to in order to survive. Instead, the result is a wasted opportunity. Halo: The Fall of Reach is destined to become a footnote in an otherwise well-managed franchise. One for the hardcore fans only.
HALO: THE FALL OF REACH / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: IAN KIRBY / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JEN TAYLOR, STEVE DOWNES, MICHELLE LUKES, BRITTANY UOMOLEALE, TRAVIS WILLINGHAM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD), DECEMBER 7TH (DVD/BLU-RAY)