Although it may attract the attention of Halo fans, casual viewers will struggle with this disappointing origin story.
The Fall of Reach isn’t the first movie to be based on Halo and giving the franchise’s popularity, I’m sure it won’t be the last. Based on a novel of the same name that serves as a prequel to Combat Evolved, this is a miniseries that was first available as a bonus feature on Halo 5: Guardians. Although it may attract the attention of Halo fans (and even they will have trouble defending the stiff CGI and lackluster storytelling,) casual viewers will struggle with this disappointing origin story.
For those who haven’t read the book, the Fall of Reach explains the backstory of Spartan 117, also known as the Master Chief, as well as the origin of the Spartan program as a military force that was created to face the alien invaders known as the Covenant. The movie shows Spartan 117 from childhood as he goes through training and learns some valuable lessons both in and out of battle and his interactions with other soldiers and superiors.
As someone who has been playing Halo games for over a decade, I feel like this origin story is worth explaining even if Master Chief can be a difficult character (he barely speaks and when he does, he delivers cheesy one-liners that feel ripped from a mindless action movie.) But if you choose to tell Master Chief’s past, you need to be careful to ruin the mystery behind the protagonist. Part of the charm about playing Halo is that you never get to see what’s behind the Master Chief’s mask, so if you’re suddenly willing to tell the story of his childhood, you might spoil that.
Halo has been the flagship series for Xbox consoles and this was thanks to the terrific graphics those machines were able to pull off. That’s certainly not the case here and those looking for stunning CGI will be sorely disappointed. The characters’ faces look rigid and lacking in expression, the hand-painted treatment for some of the backgrounds makes scenes lifeless and the animation in general is just poor and sluggish. It simply looks unnatural and it certainly doesn’t help that there are barely any action scenes. The voice acting has some issues as well. Both Master Chief and Cortana are played by their respective actors and their performances are remarkable, but the rest of the voices leave a lot to be desired, especially those that belong to the children soldiers who yell for no apparent reason.
I never read the book based on this miniseries, but from what some dedicated websites tell me, people were enthusiastic about them. Regardless if you’ve read them or not, as a standalone product that tries to tell the origin of Master Chief, The Fall of Reach doesn’t really work. I’m really looking forward to a Halo movie that treats the franchise with the care it deserves, but alas, this isn’t it.