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Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (Video)

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Antonini, L., & Josh Feldman. (Producer), & Hendler, S. (Director). (2012). HALO 4: Forward Unto Dawn [Mini Series, YouTube Channel]: USA. Microsoft Studios, & 343 Industries.

Category: YouTube Web Series (Video)

Descriptive Summary: The year is 2525. Set in the Halo Universe (begun with the Halo Series video games) this five-part mini series, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, features a military Cadet by the name of Thomas Lasky training at a military academy to fight in a civil war. Lasky has his doubts about the cause he is supposed to be fighting for, and this makes him question what he is doing, despite the pressure to follow in his family’s military footsteps. Before he and his fellow-recruits can graduate, however, the planet is attacked by The Covenant, a group of religious extremist aliens bent on wiping out the human race because they view humans as a plague. Mankind (and especially Lasky) will never be the same again as these events set an entirely new path of direction for the human race. This series is a stark reminder that every thing has a price and every action has a consequence.

Book Talking Hooks: The creators of the show did an incredible job with the graphics and special effects. The fight scenes are charged with suspense and were beautifully filmed (Episodes III and IV). The series had a real “big-movie” feel to it despite the production’s relatively small budget of ten million dollars for a production of its size.

This series will appeal to gamers familiar with Halo, but the main character, Master Chief, is lacking in emotional depth and a ‘human’ element that makes him relatable. Thomas Lasky is a lot more likeable and three-dimensional so this series may entice people not yet familiar with the game itself because of the interest generated in the male protagonist.

Halo is an enormously popular gaming franchise that will appeal to teens that already play the game, but might also entice other teens to investigate the games and/or web series. This series acts as a prequel to the wars with The Covenant, and thus allows a viewer and/or a gamer to understand the larger context to the game and personally invest in story development.

Filmed in the forests surrounding Vancouver on the Canadian west coast, the series has a three-dimensional and realistic perspective, as well as excellent costumes and props. For example, viewers may recognize the army vehicle called a Warthog, designed by the Weta Workshop for another production, Landfall (Episodes I, II, III, IV, and V).

Another bonus of this show is the behind-the-scenes features that allow the viewer to look at all the CGI effects, special effects, direction, production, and interviews with the cast, and production team. This is a really interesting feature for young adults that might be interested in the making of Forward Unto Dawn in itself, or they might be interested in film production in general. This behind-the-scenes feature encourages those interests.

Evaluative Comments: 4/5. This series is not just about action, cool graphics, and special effects. Set in a futuristic war, the protagonist is led to question the righteousness of his actions and the cause he fights for; this is also a thought-provoking drama that reminds the audience that circumstance can change your whole perspective.There are several suspenseful scenes in which the protagonist must prove that he is a worthy soldier, to himself and to others but the series manages to successfully draw out that tension until the very end.

If there is one criticism, however, it is that the show does end a bit abruptly. It is an ending that makes sense in connection with the game, but there is a lack of closure that leads a film-viewing audience to think that an opening for a full-length feature movie has been created. Certainly, the series was definitely enjoyable enough that there would be considerable interest in a feature-length film if one were to be made.

Readers Advisory Notes: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was action-packed, fast-paced, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, emotionally intense, extremely visually descriptive, and richly detailed.

Reason for Inclusion: A viewer can buy the series on DVD and Blu-Ray, but it was originally released for free on YouTube, and can still be retrieved in smaller 15-minute segments on the Internet. This makes the series accessible, and a person can decide if they would like to invest in the purchased copy.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was nominated for several categories in the Streamy Awards and won Best Drama Series, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Sound Editing in 2013. This series is in relation to a very popular video game available on Xbox 360 and PS3, so there is a lot of associated positive buzz with this production from the same creative team that made the game. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was also the winner in the Golden Reel Awards in 2013.

Suggested Audience: I would recommend this series to anyone who is vaguely familiar with the gaming world, or an interest in world-building. Due to the slightly graphic and violent nature of the show, I would recommend it to teens aged 17 and up (not because the violence is especially graphic, but because of the more mature themes of war, suffering, sacrifice, and loss).

References

Golden Reel Awards (2013). “Golden Reel Award Winners and Nominees, 2013.” Retrieved from http://mpse.org/goldenreels/2013awards/othernominees.html

Halo Waypoint (2012). “Warthog: Built for Battle.” Retrieved from http://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/universe/detail/de3445e7-b024-4674-a49f-e5f466eac720/warthog-built-for-battle

IGN (2012). “HALO 4: Forward Unto Dawn.” Retrieved from http://ca.ign.com/articles/2012/10/05/halo-4-forward-unto-dawn-part-1-review

Movie Metropolis (2012). “HALO 4: Forward Unto Dawn – Blu Ray Preview.” Retrieved from http://moviemet.com/review/halo-4-forward-unto-dawn-blu-ray-review#.UUTaKaUsE20

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