Saturday, August 29, 2015

Microsoft Films Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

(How's about a little bit of housekeeping? This is my fiftieth post! Yay me! Or sumfin'...)

Here's a good way to start your Saturday: Get out of bed. Feed the animals. Grab a bowl of cereal. Watch Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. This is a movie with all of the goodies: The hero that doesn't fit but that we all want to see win, badass aliens that come out of nowhere, redemption, combat, and flying bullets. Things go boom. They fall down. Our heroes have to think fast if they want to survive. It doesn't get much better.

First off, the disclaimer: I have never owned an X-Box nor have I ever >GASP< played Halo. I'd love to check it out sometime and I'm a fan of first-person shooters in general but I haven't gotten there yet. I do most of my gaming on PC. I'm an MMORPG guy for the most part these days. So if you're here looking for a review of how the movie compares to the game, I'm sorry. I can't do that. I'm just an SF fan sharing my opinion with other SF fans. That much being said, this was an awesome movie.

This is the story of a young man who has been forced into a military life that he didn't want. His mother is a storied hero. His brother is a soldier in a line unit. He does what he is expected to because he is expected to, but his heart isn't in it. He's the stereotypical maverick who doesn't fit and can't (or won't) follow orders. He gets in a fight. It gets worse when he is offered a medical discharge because of an allergy. He could get out. While he's still deciding the shit hits the fan and off we go into the type of insanity you can only find in a well-written Science Fiction movie. And (minor spoiler) we do eventually get to meet up with the famed Master Chief.

You do not have to be an expert on the games to love Halo 4. Everything you need to know is contained at the beginning of the movie. The background of the people, the progress of the ongoing war against the Insurrectionists and the fact that something has gone haywire... It's all there. It was really easy to take in.

I'll be honest. This movie is trope laden but I loved that part about it. We get the Reluctant Hero, the Love Interest, the Just in Time and more. As stated before though, this is comfort food. The story unfolds and things happen more or less as you expect them to. The one big plot twist comes out of nowhere and is much bigger than I expected it to be. I like to call these types of moments "the Oh Shit Button." The writers didn't just push it, they almost broke it. That the characters in the movie held it together is to their credit.

The main character and his compatriots are all students at the United Nations Space Command's most exclusive training center. They're kids, freshmen for the most part. They get stuck in a jacked up situation and have to fight their way out even though they're not full trained yet. They're not sure where to go and they're poorly equipped but they do their best anyway. When faced with a fight for life they do what they have to and they act like soldiers.

The special effects crew for H4:FUD is to be commended. The explosions are massive. The aliens are impressive and the Master Chief looks like every promotional poster I've ever seen of him. Falling building look like falling buildings and the crash rocks the world.

The writers of H4:FUD have apparently read at least a few (and possibly many more) accounts of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of what I have read matches up with things that happen in the movie. I have no doubt that this was intentional. It adds an element of gritty realism that is missing from a lot of SFnal entertainment. Think about it. How many times did Kirk send the redshirts off to get killed and leave his audience wondering how it happened? Halo 4 doesn't do that. We get to see the action as it plays out.

My only beef is that this flick should have been longer. There was a bit of a cheat at the beginning to familiarize us with the characters that could have been worked around with another ten to fifteen minutes worth of action in my opinion. I find those types of cop outs to be rather annoying to say the least. Having said that, it did get us to the action sooner. All in all, it's a forgivable sin even if it did stick in my craw a bit.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Stun Rounds

 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
Microsoft Films, 2012

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is available for purchase here:

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