Over the years, Halo has developed beyond gaming, expanding to literature, video, and comics. The very first entry in this long line was Halo: The Fall of Reach, a novel by Eric Nylund. Released back in 2001, the book proved that Halo wasn't limited to gaming - it was, and would be, a science fiction franchise that would expand far beyond its roots.
Microsoft and 343 Industries caught on, and in the past few years, we've seen two live action series that challenged the stereotypes surrounding video game-based series and films. Now, in association with Content Media and Sequence, they've adapted the story that started this expansion into an animated feature film.
Halo: The Fall of Reach Review
The story starts with Dr. Catherine Halsey's recon mission to Eridanus II. The planet is the home of a boy named John, known to her as Candidate 117. Halsey and her chaperon, Lt. Jacob Keyes, meet and speak with the boy.
Character development for both John and Halsey begins here, and is consistent throughout the film. It's one of the most intriguing aspects. Halsey and John share an unspoken bond, and grow simultaneously but separately. As John gains speed, strength, intelligence, and leadership aptitude, Halsey gains humanity. Some moments, like the augmentation, affect both of them. These situations showcase their similar drives to succeed, but also make it clear that they have very different views on the value of human lives.
Other characters aren't lacking for development, either. Blue Team is pretty well fleshed out, especially Sam and Kelly. Linda and Fred aren't ignored either, and are lent character through their specialized armor. The choice to go with helmets based on their later designs in Halo 5 was perfect. It gives the Spartans personality and identifiable traits while in their armor, something that isn't easy to do without visible faces.
The voice acting lends credibility to the development. Halsey's, done by Jen Taylor, is strong and emotional, and provides a more familiar feel throughout. Damien Haas, who voices the Chief as a teenager, is very believable. He's not as polished as Taylor, but he carries the character and feels like a natural progression between childhood and the iconic voice of Steve Downes. Richard Cansino as Chief Mendez is another notable voice. He succeeds in his portrayals of both sides of the veteran soldier: the gruff, cold drill instructor, and the officer who truly cares about his troops.
Though the voices are great, they sometimes seem odd with the characters' faces. The animation of motion in general sometimes seems a bit too deliberate, almost robotic. It can take some time to get used to. Despite this, action scenes feel believable and the motion isn't much of an issue, especially given that Spartans are known for their strength, confidence, and smoothness in combat.
Other aspects of the animation really steal the show. The incredible attention to detail, visible above, makes each and every scene a treat to look at. Whether it's a look at a suit of MJOLNIR armor, or a mountainous landscape, or even a closeup of Colonel Watts lighting up a cigar, each frame is, well, framable. They've made a visual work of art that's rarely captured at this level in animation or games.
Halo: the Fall of Reach may not tell an original story, but it's worth a watch for fans of the franchise as a whole and even those who read the original book or the comic adaptation. The voices of the characters add a new level of depth beyond what Eric Nylund created, and honored his story and development of the Chief, Halsey, and the Spartan IIs.
This may be the first Halo film of its kind, but it definitely shouldn't be the last. If it was still questionable before, The Fall of Reach has cemented Halo as a true science fiction powerhouse across all forms of media. The film drops on December 7th.