We are back again, and not for the last time, with the story that started the Halo universe – The Fall of Reach. This film is adapted from the book of the same name and up to a point covers all the essential details from the novel. If you want to read my review of the book, then head over here. If not, then strap yourselves in as we venture once more into Master Chief’s origin story.
If you’ve read my review of the book, then you’ll know that while it isn’t a spectacular book it does a decent job showing us why the SPARTAN’s exist and explaining the early days of war with the Covenant. If you are a fan of the Halo games, then you’ll get a lot out of The Fall of Reach novel. You get to see the darker tones of their super soldier programme and learn about the human cost, and it gives an interesting context to the shooty bang video games.
The film version of The Fall of Reach, on the other hand, dashes through these events at a breakneck pace and tweaks some of the details to allow it to maintain this pace. The result is a vastly inferior version of these events. You do see some of the indoctrination the young SPARTAN’s are subjected to and you feel their struggle through their training and while this was, for me, the best part of the novel it is by far the weakest part of the film. Whereas the novel was at it’s highest outside of combat, the film would be nigh unwatchable without action scenes.
The reason I say this is because the animation in The Fall of Reach swings wildly from fantastic concept art style stills to character animations that seem somehow worse than the original Halo game. The Fall of Reach was released in 2015 and yet frequently looks far worse than the 2001 release of the original Halo game. While this might not be a fair comparison due to differing budgets, the 14-year difference speaks for itself. Any moments, excluding a few, where characters are just talking to each other look awful. This means that everything is ruined by just how bad it looks. The action scenes are marginally better but everything is marred by chonky character animations that serve only to distract from whatever is happening on screen.
How the film looks aside, it doesn’t even fully adapt the novel. We never see Reach fall. The film ends after the SPARTAN’s first encounter with The Covenant, which makes me question why the film is even called The Fall of Reach. It feels like I’m being baited with what I know is a pretty epic conclusion to the novel with simultaneous space and ground battles. Instead, once we’ve built up to that moment, the film ends. It should be renamed to something like Halo: Origins or something that makes it clear it is only about Master Chief and him becoming a SPARTAN, nothing more.
As the film doesn’t adapt the full book and because it skips over some of the more subtle character moments, none of the characters ever really develop in The Fall of Reach. Instead, we have woodenly animated characters, with wooden personas and we never see beneath the surface. We never get Captain Key’s and his pipe or even see Cortana. The Fall of Reach film is so weird, to the point where I don’t understand why it exists. It doesn’t add anything the book doesn’t and everything it does is worse by comparison. We don’t get a full story and the whole thing looks abysmal save a few nice background pieces. Perhaps it was made with the thought that Halo could print some money or it was made by a very small passionate team and I’m being very mean. Either way, despite it’s mere 1 hour run time, I cannot in any way recommend watching The Fall of Reach.
Thanks for reading. This is the first filmclubbing article, so I can’t direct you to more things like it. However, Gav’s article on why he loves the Yakuza series if fantastic so you should go read that. And if you want board games, then why not learn about poverty in my review of London.
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