Monday, 4 May 2015

Movie Review - HALO: Nightfall

Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Run Time: 94 minutes

Review by Richard Williams

I'm sad to report that this film is terrible. I'm going to open with that bold statement because it's inescapable and I don't feel any need to dance around the issue as though I owe the film anything. If anything it owes me 94 minutes of my life back. I think part of this opinion stems from the fact that this is a Halo product and therefore my expectations were high. After the triumph that was Forward Unto Dawn I couldn't wait for the next slice of live action Halo goodness. Had this film had been advertised as a run-of-the-mill low budget sci-fi film, without any of the Halo branding, then... well, I probably wouldn't have sat through it but at least it wouldn't have been a Halo movie.

So what exactly is wrong with it? Firstly it looks like a cheap sci-fi film, the kind you expect to see on the Syfy channel at 1am. Very basic sets and outfits with fairly dodgy CG effects. When you think of the effort that was made for the Forward Unto Dawn mini-series it's shameful that 343 Industries let Nightfall be released looking the way it does. Considering so much noise was made about Ridley Scott producing Nightfall, I'm doubly disappointed. Although, having said that, I've thought for a while that Ridley Scott's work came off the boil some time ago.

The script it also incredibly dodgy and basically boils down to a simple tale of soldiers enduring hardship. You have the ones that make it, the ones that don't and the ones that crack. There are precisely zero interesting characters in this film and that's a real shame because it's supposed to be an introduction to the character of Spartan Locke, a major character in the next Halo game. This lack of interest stems from the fact that the dialogue is too formulaic, the action (such as it is) is too uninspiring, and the characters are so two-dimensional that you'd have to be a saint to give a damn about any of them. It doesn't even set up Locke's transition into the upcoming game, which is what I was hoping for.

This film also doesn't feel like a Halo product. I've already commented on the lack of polish you would hope/expect to find but, aside from the few cosmetic elements like ships and guns, there is almost nothing about this film that screams Halo at me. There's even an alien, at the start, that is right out of the Star Trek 'alien of the week' closet. I've read most of the Halo comics, read most of the books (including the visual guides), own all of the concept art books, watched all previous live-action and animated videos, bought the Halo: Risk board game and, wouldn't you know it, played all of the games. I consider myself something of a fan. So I'm fairly confident that the alien I'm talking about has never appeared in a Halo product before. Maybe they're going to feature them in the new game but I'm more inclined to think that a producer somewhere thought that any old alien would do and the budget was limited to what they could grab out of a drawer. There's none of the depth, intricacy or drama of a usual Halo product. In these, and other ways, this film doesn't feel like it fits with the Halo universe.

As you can tell, I didn't enjoy this film and can find nothing here that would make me recommend it to a Halo fan. Maybe a Sharknado fan, but not otherwise.