It’s a simple enough question to pose: what would the Master Chief’s adventure and experience look like through the eyes of any number of UNSC Marines on the battlefield? With more and more emphasis placed on the personal element of the Human/Covenant war for Halo 4, there’s clearly too much story to be contained in the game itself.
The live-action web series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be getting fans ready come October, and the first full trailer shows that Microsoft hasn’t spared any expense, or limited the scope of their narrative.
The live-action project with the Halo license isn’t all that shocking, since the tradition of stellar cinematic trailers preceding each release always left film fans wanting more. The immediate assumption when Forward Unto Dawn was announced was that hardcore fans would have yet another platform to see the – at this point, somewhat intimidating – fiction of the franchise explored. But the new series is quickly starting to defy that estimation.
The teaser for Forward Unto Dawn didn’t show much other than a brief look at a real, live Master Chief in full Mjolnir armor. The set photos showed it in all its glory. But the new extended trailer shows far more about the characters that the series will be following before the Chief even enters the picture. Namely, a group of extremely young soldiers being trained for war.
Since ODSTs – Orbital Drop Shock Troopers – were presented as being highly important to the plot of the series, the trailer’s focus on a group of young students at a military academy is interesting.
Film and television fans will see many familiar faces in the trailer, most notably Anna Popplewell (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Tom Green (Dance Academy) as protagonist Thomas Lasky, which is a good sign for those who felt that the live-action Halo 4 trailer shown at E3 lacked a certain amount of recognizable talent.
The man inhabiting the armor of Master Chief is none other than Daniel Cudmore, first noticed for his portrayal of Colossus in the X-Men series. Any casting of the Chief is sure to evoke some controversy, but for now it isn’t confirmed that the helmeted hero’s face will be shown at all. The series also seems to be much more grounded than the previous footage, packed with special effects and grand speeches. That doesn’t mean it won’t be without action befitting the Halo name.
Fans of the franchise’s extremely robust extended fiction will no doubt be glad to see many of the universe’s smaller nuances being paid service. Whether it’s the application of ancient military tactics into modern combat which also happens to have given the Spartan IIs their names, or the simple stenciling of ‘117’ on the Chief’s armor to show he is only one member of a larger force.
It will be interesting to know how much of the decision to follow teenage students was motivated by the recent, overwhelming success of The Hunger Games. If the uniforms or armor of those seen in the trailer seem especially reminiscent of the feature film, it’s no coincidence: the same special effects team is at work here. That’s not a complaint, merely highlighting the fact that the military training of children that the Halo novels center around is far more palatable now than it was when first published. Especially if that’s the direction a Halo feature film would take…
If personal story and drama is taking precedence over making Master Chief seem like the hero yet again, then the possibility of Forward Unto Dawn lending momentum to a Halo feature film is even greater. One step at a time, though.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be released via Halo Waypoint and Machinima starting October 5, leading up to the launch of Halo 4 on November 6, 2012.
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