Movie Review: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

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Made to advertise the 4th video game in a long line of Halo titles, in this film we are introduced to a military academy where we find young cadets training to fight against a band of terrorists. Some are ready and rearing to fight, others think that fighting is not the best way. Regardless of their opinions, they are taught to work together, in preparation for the time when they will join the ranks.

Before that happens though, their planet is invaded by the Alien race called “The Covenant”, and everyone- save for a few are killed in the attack. The survivors, led by a mysterious solider called “The Master Chief” have a limited amount of time to get off the planet. And that time isn’t long at all.

Things I Liked

Master Chief is one memorable character which stood out to me. While not much is told about him, we see he is a good solider. He is willing to die to save anyone’s life, and has compassion on the weak. He is sensitive to the Cadet’s losses, but also stern in commanding others what must be done- regardless of how crushed one may be in losing a close friend.

One Cadet, after watching another die, chooses to put himself in danger to save the others and allow them to escape. We see this happen multiple times, and live many other war movies, we are reminded of the incredible friendships those cadets have, willing to sacrifice themselves to save those they love.

Things I Didn’t Like

When the Aliens invade, there is a massacre of humans which is not only intense, but a bit bloody and gore filled as well. We see an elevator shredded to pieces with people in it with a laser. Multiple unarmed cadets and instructors are gunned down by fantastical weaponry. Others are sliced down by the alien’s Light Sword. One cadet is stabbed through the torso by an Alien. Another is gunned down. And another dies of poison from being hit by a special type of gun. After the initial invasion, we see dead bloodied (and sometimes charred) bodies laying all across the ground. When some cadets are injured, blood is seen on the head.

There is a use of the word D–k, The A word is used a few times, and God’s name is taken in vain as well. There is an obligatory hollywood kiss between two Cadets.

We see the term “Axios” used a battle cry meaning “I am worthy” given the context though, we learn that the original solider was told to commit suicide- which he did. The cry is not of life, but of death. Meaning “I am worthy to die”, instead of challenging others to live.

Call me sexist if you like, but I never have, and never will, support or advocate women fighting on the front lines like many did in this movie. We see many young women killed in battle, as the academy trains men and women  for the same position of combat.

Closing Thoughts

“Forward Unto Dawn” was originally introduced as an online web series, made to increase hype and publicity of the Newest Halo Release. Creating an entire 90 minute flick for the sole purpose of advertising a game speaks volumes about the effect the Halo titles have on our society today. I watched this film not really knowing anything about the Halo Universe, what to expect, or even who the master chief is. The first part of the movie, I was completely befuddled. But I am sure any game player would not be in the least.

And that’s where I’ll begin. Throughout the entire movie I felt lost and the characters were so shallow. I wanted to get to know the cadets better, but before that happened, the invasion happens and it is bye-bye the population of the planet (save for the main characters of the movie, how ironic). Incredibly weak and confusing story aside, there is one message the movie seems like it is trying to communicate or one question to answer. That is, “What is a true soldier?”

It answers this question in a very respectable and commendable fashion. We are told positive traits which result in victory, and negative traits that result in failure. Sacrifice, intelligence, respect for life, and compassion for the weak. All of these things are shown and said in a very clear fashion.

As solid as those messages are though, interspersed throughout the mix is a smattering of crude language, some pretty intense deaths and violence, and quite honestly a weak, “made for the gamers”  story. So if you are a Halo Junkie and get most of the comments about past happenings, names, events, and more- you will probably benefit much more in seeing the sacrifices made in the film.

If you aren’t  a Halo gamer, you will probably be like me. Lost, confused, and bored at times in the film. Impressed at the special effects, and understanding what they think a good solider is. Ultimately though, I found the purpose of the movie wasn’t really to convey a message at all, rather show how amazing the combat in Halo 4 was going to be, and that if you wanted a piece of this Alien shoot-em-up action, you needed to go buy this game.

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