As we all know, every Halo game in recent years has been introduced with a live-action ad campaign. It started with Neil Blomkamp’s Landfall short films, and pretty much has grown in cost and complexity ever since.
Which brings us to this Blu-Ray of the Forward Unto Dawn webseries, which I was provided a copy of for review. The main video content on here is absolutely free online, although for how long may be an open question. But is it worth paying for?
If you like SF war movies, then absolutely.
Taken out of its context (i.e. as a marketing campaign), Forward Unto Dawn is actually a solid movie in its own right. The smartest part of it is that if you know absolutely nothing about Halo, it’s still a watchable movie.
What helps is that it’s focused more on the soldiers than on things blowing up. The plot follows Lasky, a green recruit who manages to royally screw up a training exercise and manages to redeem himself before everything hits the fan. Occasionally, the low budget shows itself; the special effects are sometimes more SyFy than SF. But overall, it’s a solid, if not spectacular, ninety minutes.
Ironically, the extras actually make the movie a lot more impressive. 343 Industries rode the filmmakers hard to ensure the movie felt authentically Halo, and often the behind-the-scenes documentaries betray the stress of being nagged by somebody who doesn’t understand your job when you have a limited amount of resources; the crew had to put together a ninety minute SF war movie with a budget of $10 million. The corresponding inventiveness, however, is pretty fun to watch in action: Most of the armor you see, for example, is literally nothing more than shaped foam.
Ultimately, this is for Halo fans more than anyone else, but if you find yourself with a copy come Christmas from a well-meaning grandparent, take the time to pop it in and watch it.