Ultramarines: The Movie Review
Today we’ll be reviewing Ultramarines: The Movie, by Codex pictures. If you’re a Games Workshop fan you’ll know that the Ultramarines Movie was released a month or so ago. We mentioned it a few months back, but that was really just some pictures. This time you get a trailer and a discussion of the whole thing!
Ultramarines: The Movie involves a small squad of (of course) Ultramarine as they investigate an incident in the remote Mithras Sector. An important shrine has since disappeared from contact, and the space marines are tasked to see what’s up. It starts off relatively quiet (primarily since there needs to be some backstory), but eventually the marines get embroiled in a battle with the forces of Chaos, and good old hack and slashing takes place.
First up, the caveat is that Ultramarines: The Movie is for Warhammer 40k fans. It’s straight to DVD, and ordered online. It’s also on a much lower budget than your usual blockbuster or even indie movies. Which would go a long way explaining the graphics.
A fully CG affair, the visuals of the Ultramarines Movie could have been better. Stuck in an ash wasteland, the environment is boring. Movements are a little bit unwieldy, and the armour of the space marines tend to not have enough weight behind them. Perhaps the biggest issue is that with almost everyone having the same outfit and haircut, it’s hard to tell Brother Boreas from Brother Proteus from Brother Brontosaurus. You could almost find better in Dawn of War. In fact, just about anything could be compared to Dawn of War. Which is unfortunate, because most people would probably prefer the Game Cinematic to the movie. It’s an unfair comparison, since Dawn of War has a much bigger budget and only renders about 2 minutes compared to the 76 minutes of the movie. But what can you do?
Plot-wise, it’s your traditional find chaos, fight chaos, triumph against chaos plotline; standard fare for Warhammer 40k. It’s also a good thing that the DVD comes with a little comic prologue: I’d be a lot more lost without it. The dialogue also looks like it’s lifted from a 40k novel. Which is understandable, because it’s written by none other than Dan Abnett: Author of a multitude of 40k books.
Specific 40k nitpicks (among others): How the heck are bolters so effective against Marines and Chaos alike? How the heck does a flag become a Chaos-detector ala Ghostbusters? And when did Chaplains get ‘anti-chaos shock field’ upgrades installed in their Crozius Arcanums?
Not all of it is bad, though. The voices are pretty well done. Terence Stamp and John Hurt lend a lot of gravitas to the work, which is not hard to believe because of all their prior experience in movies and the like (it’s too bad John wasn’t more heavily used). Sounds are generally well used, and some scenes are suitably riveting.
All in all, this is a movie definitely aimed for and meant for the 40k fan. Some parts are enjoyable, but it’s very rough around the edges and I’m not sure if the fun outweighs the low points of the movie. All things being said though, it shows that a movie COULD work. I recommend that all hardcore 40k fans check it out, if only to convince GW to greenlight a second movie. Just hope that the next one is better.
Abnett writes for Marvel! Mostly focusing on the cosmic side of things, he and partner in crime Lanning have focused on the street level stuff which is a total opposite from what they’ve been doing. They did get lots of kudos for their cosmic work.
I was really impressed with what was produced, and hopefully we see more mini-films like this until a full feature can be written. While I’d personally change a few things in the story, I think the sacrafice of perfect game mechanics is fine when you move from a board to a film. It was probably meant to feel epic rather than accurate.
I do like the movie for the potential it provides to future movie opportunities, and im cool with trading game accuracy for drama. But some decisions seemed to be more for ease of rendering rather than storytelling.