I played Halo 4 earlier during the year and quite enjoyed the first person shooter action although I was worried about the direction that the franchise is going and the universe’s ability to sustain another two big games linked to the current narrative.
Only after a week or two did I get around to watching Forward Unto Dawn, the live action movie that was used to promote Halo 4 and includes a significant appearance from Master Chief.
The movie is not Oscar material but it offers a solid answer to two questions: one about how a movie based on video games should work and the second linked to the actual future of the Halo as a franchise.
Movies based on big games, from Doom to Hitman (there are plenty of other examples), have tried to follow the game formula, integrating story, which films can easily do, but also reflecting the gameplay mechanics of the series they are based on.
This is not a good idea as any player can see that it’s hard if not impossible to take something that’s interactive and driven by players control and translate it into a medium which is non-interactive and auteur driven.
Forward Unto Dawn, the live action movie that was used to promote the launch of this year’s Halo 4, takes an entirely different approach and might be a sign of how video games can successfully be translate to a movie experience.
The core of Forward Unto Dawn is not Master Chief, although he is present and suitably heroic, but a cast of young trainees who give us, the audience, a fresh way of looking at the war against the Covenant and the individual sacrifices required from the members of the UNSC.
The movie is filled with emotion and tension, with character one can relate to, and that gives Master Chief and his actions more impact while also making for decent viewing even for those unfamiliar with the Halo franchise.