Master Chief’s Origin Story: ‘Halo: The Fall of Reach’

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Halo: The Fall of Reach

Although I don’t play a lot of videogames these days, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Halo. It was the primary reason I finally bought an Xbox, and I played through the first two titles with a friend of mine. But then the third game was on the Xbox 360, and I fell behind… way behind. There are now something like a dozen titles in the series, though they get hard to count because not all of them are numbered, which explains why the latest is only up to Halo 5.

I have kept up a little bit with the storylines, though. I enjoyed watching Forward Unto Dawn, a live-action miniseries released in 2012 to coincide with the release of Halo 4. The latest film is Halo: The Fall of Reach, just released this month by Content Media.

Fall of Reach screenshot
John-117 gets a lesson in leadership from Mendez.

The Fall of Reach, based on the book of the same name, is a prequel to the first game. It’s about the SPARTAN-II project, run by Dr. Catherine Halsey to create super-soldiers for the UNSC. I won’t get into too many details, but it’s pretty brutal. This isn’t like Steve Rogers volunteering to become Captain America. More like all the experimentation Wolverine went through in Weapon X. The film doesn’t shy away from showing these kids getting hurt or dying in the process.

Fall of Reach
Ah, there’s the Master Chief we recognize.

The animation, by the animation studio SEQUENCE, has an interesting look to it: it’s certainly 3D computer animation, but there’s a texture to it that makes certain things look painted instead. The characters’ faces aren’t great, though, and I had trouble telling some of the characters apart just by their voices (and the acting isn’t stellar). Still, it’s an interesting story to watch, and fills in some details that have only been in the novels and not the games.

The film is just over an hour, and doesn’t cover nearly as much ground as the books, but it focuses on how a kid named John became Master Chief.

The film is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and video-on-demand on iTunes and other major digital platforms internationally.

Disclosure: I was provided access to a digital screener for review purposes.

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