Despite being well put together, Forward Unto Dawn won’t hold the attention of those who aren’t into Halo for long.
Released in the form of an episodic webseries that explores the universe of first-person shooter Halo 4, Forward Unto Dawn attempts to promote the 343 Industries’ game, widen the audience of the Halo series and encourage a potential Halo film which has been rumored for years. The webseries does some things better than others, but I can’t help but feeling that Forward Unto Dawn won’t hold the attention of those who aren’t into Halo for long.
The webseries follows a few freshmen cadet called Lasky and his classmates soon after they started attending the UNSC academy. Forward Unto Dawn is basically divided into two parts: the first part deals with the lives of the different cadets at the USNC academy and the second part is the war between the human and Covenant. The squad members are the stereotypical characters from a science-fiction movie with minimal development: Lasky is the underdog whose brother is a legend at the academy, then there’s the female protagonist who’s the romantic interest, then there’s the bully and so on.
Before we get to the fun stuff, we see cadets training at the academy, fighting with each other, watching top-secret military videos, participating in various combat exercises and of course, playing capture the flag. For a series that’s all about shooting aliens in space, Forward Unto Dawn can be quite slow-paced and boring at first. Also, the message the webseries is trying to convey (war is bad, dehumanizing and pointless) feels contrived, since it’s trying to promote a game where you pretty much shoot everything that moves. During the second part of the series, the academy is under attack and the cadets must fight the galactic invaders. Without making reference to specifics, all heel breaks loose and there are some cameo appearances of characters you’ll definitely recognize from the series, but this inclusion feels forced and artificial.
It’s a shame that the story and characters are so boring because everything around it is more than competent. The production values are amazing, the music is very good, the special effects are truly special and it’s all well put together. But for everything the webseries succeeds at, there are some problems. The dialogues are embarrassing, there’s nothing particularly memorable about Forward Unto Dawn and even after watching it for an hour-and-a-half, I don’t feel like I know more about Halo than I did before watching this. I think the worst part about Forward Unto Dawn is that it doesn’t provide context for all the events shown, so unless you’re way into Halo’s mythology, you won’t understand what’s happening.
In the end, this feels like an extremely expensive action trailer for Halo 4 or a fan-fiction film with a huge budget. Fans of the Halo franchise will want to watch Forward Unto Dawn despite all of its missteps, but if you don’t like the popular first-person shooter series that much, this film won’t make that much sense to you.