When attempting to watch Nightfall on the Halo Channel, which came equipped with The Master Chief Collection, I was unable to, the Channel experiencing, much like the game, one of many intolerable issues. Awaiting with much anticipation, I purchased Nightfall on BluRay, the question that is perhaps on reader's lips being: should I do the same? I won't respond to this, but after reading this review, maybe, dear reader, you will generate an answer of your own.
Locke (Mike Colter - who is quite possibly the single most handsome man alive), alongside his team, is operating on Sedra, an isolated backwater on the fringes of space, though this is just a smokescreen. Much like Williams on Horizon in Mass-Effect 2, Locke, an ONI Lieutenant, is spreading his employer's technological influence.
Tracking a smuggler across the planet, he and his team encounter a Covenant threat, one they are unable to suppress, a massive biological attack crippling the city. Investigating the alien technology which brought ruin upon them all, it's origins are uncovered: Alpha Halo, or, more aptly, a piece of the installation, destroyed by Master Chief. If Locke, his team, and members of the Sedran military want to stopper this threat, they are going to have to go to hell to do it - little do they realize, the real threat to their survival, has been with them all along.
Similar, occasionally, to Prometheus, Aliens and Red Planet, most of Nightfall takes place on the desolated ruin of Alpha, which is far from attractive. Though the opening of the feature shows lush, fertile wilderness on Sedra, Alpha is a distinct, unappealing contrast. Ridley Scott's influence as executive producer is visible in the camera work, the atmosphere, and the creepy imagery associated with the Covenant threat the joint ONI-Sedran team encounter. The effects are amazing, despite never been as grand as massive Hollywood productions, though it would have been superb to experience more, especially in the scenes when the team is being savagely attacked, the uniqueness of the alien menace being riveting, and the decision to inhibit it in the background is quite insulting.
Although Nightfall is designed to tell Locke's back-story, the series is narrated from the point-of-view of Aiken (Steven Waddington). We are, much like Aiken, on the outside looking in, and never do we truly comprehend the mystery that is Jameson Locke. Unlike Lasky in Forward Unto Dawn (FUD), whose family, friends and character were effectively delivered on screen, Locke remains very much an unknown quantity. Aiken too receives little depth, an issue that all characters in the series equally suffer. It's revealed that Aiken was once a Spartan, but it's never postulated why he left, though a visual representation plausibly hints an answer.
Honor, respect, sacrifice and the Godlike power of taking life are major themes explored in the series, Aiken and Locke exhibiting a willingness to do what must be done. At the same time though, the series conveys how fear and hostility can tear through the bonds of even the most loyal comrades, as everything goes terribly wrong. Nightfall efficiently blends together contemporary issues, likening the story to the world dynamics of today. ONI is representative of America: a massively powerful, dominating influence upon everyone else. Sedrans are much like America's allies: they receive guidance and protection, but are never given the same respect as ONI gives to its own people. The smugglers, who are later encountered, are similar to Middle-Eastern extremists (and not just because of their ethnicity), with their lackluster technology and oppression faced at the hands of ONI.
Although the opening of the series is positively brilliant, and easily captures the viewer's attention, the slower pace that begins to ensue, could be likened to a driver suddenly putting on the brakes for a majority of the feature, despite the well articulated suspense. A feeling of clichéd predictability begins to creep into the later portions of the series, while at the same time, action scenes are short lived, and many confrontations appear to be more verbal, than physical.
Nightfall is a decent stand alone feature, however, much like Battlestar Galactica Blood & Chrome, the Halo universe could have kept on spinning without its induction.
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