I’m a big fan of the Halo franchise having played all the FPS versions of the game, watched the anime film Halo Legends and also watched the first live action Halo film Halo: Forward Unto Dawn. I enjoyed both the films so when the opportunity came to review Halo: Nightfall I was quick to volunteer.
Halo: Nightfall is Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries second live-action Halo film after Forward unto Dawn and they have upped the ante with a bigger budget, higher profile actors and executive producer Ridley Scott. Originally a web series it have now been edited into a feature-length film available on DVD, Blu-ray, Digitally and on VOD.
Nightfall is a prequel to the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians game and is set between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5. It introduces ONI Agent and legendary man hunter Jameson Locke played by Mike Colter (The Good Wife & Luke Cage) who is also due to appear as the character in Halo 5. While investigating Covenant terrorist attack by an Elite Zealot on the remote colony world of Sedra where a virus is released that only kills humans. This attack leads Jameson Locke and his team to join forces with a local commander Colonel Aiken (Steven Waddington) his team and travel to a section of a destroyed Halo ring. Here they strive to survive against deadly Hunter Worms that are attracted to technology and are hunting the team.
With the initial scenes when Locke’s team are hunting the Covenant terrorist you get a sense that the film will be all action with the teams fighting classic Halo Covenant foes in the type of fire fights fans of the game have played out themselves. Instead Nightfall takes a more survival horror twist with Locke and the rest of the team trying to stay alive and escape the Halo ring while being hunted. With the survival horror twist you would expect a tense, on the edge, affair but there is a noticeable lack of tension and drama. The various team members are fairly routine and their performances do little to elevate this. Only Steven Waddington as Colonel Aiken proves to be one of the more interesting characters but more by default of the others being so bland.
Mike Colter struggles to give a good performance which leaves Agent Locke often just being cold and rather boring. For gamers this might be a little of a concern as Locke is set to be a key character in Halo 5.
Perhaps if there were less members of the team they would have been more space for character development, allowing the viewer to become more invested in them.In the end I found myself not caring who lived or died.
The increased budget means that the film looks good and the set pieces being believable, although the CGI of the Elite Zealot could have looked better.
Halo: Nightfall is an OK addition to the live action Halo series with a good premise and an interesting link between Halo 4 and Halo 5 Guardians. Fans of the Halo franchise will like the many reference to the series and familiar enemies. There was a lot of hype when it was first announced with the launch of Xbox One and with the big names involved, my expectations were high. I can’t say that they were fully met as Nightfall falls short with its action scenes, lack of tension, uninspiring and fairly by the numbers characters and performances.
Overall I was left a little disappointed with Nightfall. This was a missed opportunity to deliver an even bigger and better Halo film than the enjoyable Forward unto Dawn. With that said, Nightfall is one for Halo fans who will find some enjoyment in those nodes to the games they are familiar with and the fact this bridges the gap between Halo 4 and Halo 5.
Halo: Nightfall is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, Digitally and on VOD.
GS Rating: 2.5/5
GS Reviewer: Soulfinger