It is invariably a sign of a good franchise when it starts to expand its horizons. The Halo series of games has become the highest selling game across the Xbox platforms. This enabled the property to enter other media. Comics, books, TV and now films are using the name to expand the Universe and feed the desire for more content.
The film, based on a book of the same name goes into the back story of John-117, the boy who would go on to become The Master Chief. The Spartan project was undertaken in order to train the next generation of fighters. People capable of ending the seemingly endless war being waged against the forces of The Covenant. To do this the scientists behind it needed to find children as young as six years old with certain physical and mental capabilities. The chosen candidates were then spirited away to a secret facility on the planet Reach. There they received training and drilled into a unique fighting force with a bond based on trust and respect.
The back story of the Master Chief is never really mentioned in the games with only the barest of details slipping out. What the film does is to fill in the blanks. It shows that the boy known as John was meant for greater things. He just needed the right kind of guidance. What the film tries to get across is that although one man can make a difference, there is more benefit to a fully functioning team being able to handle a situation.
The film touches on most of the usual military themes in movies. The aforementioned need for team work is the same for the whole story. The need for discipline and leadership also plays a substantial role. Early on John is taught a hard lesson in when he excels in an exercise at the cost of his team. It is a valuable lesson, one which forms his entire philosophy from then on.
The film will not be the best animation you will see this year. It has the look of cut scenes from games or one of the final fantasy movies. It is not exactly up there with the best CG and to some this can be a problem. What it lacks in character animation it more than compensates for in background scenes. The various scenes are beautifully rendered and show some imagination in the composition of the shots. There are a couple of scenes that make the best use of the lens flare effect so beloved in the Star Trek movies. A bit more care with the character CG and lip syncing would have greatly enhanced the viewing pleasure.
The story telling uses a standard device of the start and end the film acting as bookends to the story. The dialogue is strong and there is effective use of voice overs to add to the story. To keep it fresh the story is narrated at times by several members of the team, each giving their perspective on the action. This is a clever use of the device as one voice over and its similar point of view can become a little tedious at times.
Halo: Fall Of Reach is available on iTunes and all major VOD platforms courtesy of Content Media.