Monday, December 27, 2010

Ultramarine Movie Review

The holiday movie season is well upon us.  In addition to the big theatrical releases, Codex Pictures has recently released Ultramarines: The Movie on DVD, the first ever feature length production based upon the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  The following is a review of the film by my long time friend and fellow Warhammer enthusiast Justin:

As soon as I had heard about this movies imminent arrival, I could hardly contain myself. A Warhammer 40,000 movie, finally.  I am a big fan of Games Workshop; I love the grim darkness of the far future and all the Black Library stories and background fluff associated with it. I have been playing Warhammer in both forms for close to 15 years, so I was pumped when its release drew near. I actually first heard about the movie at Games Day Los Angeles 2008 at the Black Library seminar. The Black Library representative said that it would look better than the opening for the Dawn of War computer game. At that time the movie seemed a long way off so I was intrigued but not overly excited.

I always wondered why Games Workshop had not invested in creating a cartoon to supplement their games systems.  Obviously cost is the main factor, but when I was a child animated shows and commercials always got me excited for purchasing the action figures that went along with whatever franchise I was hooked on at the time.  G.I. Joe, Ghost Busters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.; I watched the show and purchased the figures. Now a cartoon has arrived to pump me up on Warhammer 40K and, even as an adult 20 years later, I could not be more excited.  Of course there were some exceptions.

Immediately, I was ready for this movie being low budget and shitty. I did not have high expectations for something grand and marvelous.  I, along with everyone else I would believe, want to support this movie so that it will succeed and more Warhammer movies will be produced.  It seems that common sentiment among the web is that nobody cares how this movie looks or is edited. The fact that it is a 40k movie overrides all other negatives that are associated with it. Since Codex Pictures was producing this movie I knew what to expect having seen Bionacle cartoons and commercials in the past.  However, the more Warhammer movies Codex Pictures produces, the better they will get over time; or so we all hope.

As far as the animation is concerned, it sucks.  I saw a video review on another blog from a couple of lucky fellows who got to see an early screening of the film. This blogger said that the animation was not the best but it does not distract from the movie.  Since his review I was comfortable that the animation would be alright as I trusted him since he had just seen the movie.  Boy was he wrong.  I was distracted the whole damn time.  I just kept thinking how crappy the animation was.  As soon as the movie ended the first thing I thought of in regards to the animation was that Black Library representative at Games Day a couple of years back saying, “It is better than the Dawn of War Opening cinematic”. The animation in the Dawn of War cinematic is better.  However, I did appreciate the grim stuff portrayed in the movie.  This movie is intended for adults.  It is very Warhammery, complete with dead bodies and skulls galore.  These parts did look pretty cool.  The movie is rated R which I found amusing.  I am sure it got the R rating due to these gruesome scenes.

Next, the sound and sound editing seemed poor and low quality.  I believe that Codex Pictures should have saved money on the voice acting and invested it on editing and mixing.  Yes, it is true and impressive that Terrance Stamp and John Hurt lent their voice talents for the first 40k movie, but any third rate theater actor with a good voice would have done this movie justice.  It is as if the animation and sound mixing let these great actors down.  I had a hard time following the movie along because the sound was too soft or the voices were not audible enough.

I was most excited about the film’s writing.  I love Dan Abnett’s writing style.  I have read most of his Black Library books and I am a big fan of the Gaunt’s Ghost series. Unlike his books I thought this movie would have a cool story to go along with it. But Dan truly let me down on this one.  I know he can write a good story, but this time he did not.  The story takes too long to build up to the action, which there is not enough of.  What I did like about the movie was the fact that they portrayed the Space Marines as quick and agile.  That is how they should be and that is how they made them.  Overall, the story was weak and for the most part uneventful.  Besides the animation and sound, the story really let me down.

Now I know this movie is going to do well because Warhammer 40,000 has a strong fan base and, as mentioned earlier, every one wants more Warhammer movies.  When I tried to purchase the DVD set on the movie’s website, Codex Pictures had to shut down the site because too many people were trying to purchase the movie at the same time.  The server was absolutely swamped.  I was not able to get through until the second day it was available for purchase, and the site was still very slow.  I would say that based on the amount of people trying to purchase the movie on the day of release it is a pretty good sign that Codex Pictures will see a decent profit from this venture.

Obviously, this is not a great movie, or even a good movie for that matter.  However, it is a Warhammer 40k movie.  I recommend purchasing this movie for the collector as this preliminary edition comes with a hard back comic book and a cool metal case.  It also comes with a bonus features disk which I have not yet had time to watch. (I will let you know what this is all about in a future article.)  Also, purchase this movie so that they turn an obscene profit and create many more Warhammer movies for years to come and give us a better product!  Finally, go see this movie so you can judge it for yourself, maybe you will be less pessimistic about Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie than I.

There you have it.  I have yet to personally see the movie, but if you have any burning questions about it, leave a comment and I'll see if Justin can answer it for you.


  1. Solid review. I found myself nodding most of the way through it. I'd not pinned my opinion about the voice talent down but you are dead on.

    They weren't needed. Who are they trying to sell this to after all. There will be plenty of Warhammer fans who will watch this and then say to their mum afterwards. Hey one of the guys sounds like the dragon in Merlin...

  2. Happy New Year!

    Thanks for the heads up which makes me think:

    I could have done this movie for a hundred dollars.

    I would have borrowed a tent, got an actor to wear a space marine mask and hold a torch.

    Then I would have got him to speak into the camera at night, describing imaginary genestealers lurking around outside like in the Blairwitch Project!

    I would have made millions of dollars in profit ;)

  3. You people that think this movie was good spend way too much time hiding from daylight in your mom's basement playing tabletop. This movie was TERRIBLE. TERRIBLE. Its so god damn bad, I don't even know where to start. You've done hit the crack pipe one to many times if you think there is ANYTHING positive to say about this film.

    First off, jesus christ, did anyone (anyone at all) research anything before making this film? I mean, could you maybe have had someone over at codex pictures actually do a little research about military formations, how squads move, how the 40k universe works, etc? How about the dumb ass marines walking around corners and through doorways with their bolters mag clamped to their legs! Really? I mean really? A space marine? Someone who's fed tactical moves their whole life.....

    Then, the story sucked. Dan should stick to writing books, because I'm pretty sure you could read the 12 year old special Olympics sci-fi short story challenge and find better story lines. I mean seriously, I thought Dan would be your only saving grace, but christ this story line sucks. They go to a planet, kill a couple bad guys, a demon tries to come back to their homeworld? Christ, seriously, that's it?

    The graphics consistently looked about as sexy as the fat girl that lives at the end of the block. I mean, I play video games on my blackberry that looks better than the crap you've cooked up.

    Sound was terrible, completely one dimensional. Bolter fire sounds like someone was shooting a .22 a half-mile away. Really, was your sound guy deaf? We are all just curious.

    You guys had a chance to really move warhammer to mainstream with this and you've epically, I mean epically, failed. And you the 40k fanboys need to put the god damn pipe down and be sure not to spout this off to family and friends already not familiar with the 40k universe. This will TURN PEOPLE AWAY, who are not already part of the fan base. And they'll probably call you a nerd to boot (which you deserve if you found this movie anything above a D-).

    Don't waste your money on this movie! If you really want to see it, find some who idiot who did waste their money and watch theirs. I'd ask for my money back, but this movie is so damn bad that the thought of dealing with it anymore makes me throw up in my mouth.

    -Sincerely Pissed off 40k fan.

  4. Wow guys, i am glad i found this review before I hit the purchase button on Amazon

  5. Why did they choose Ultramarines? They are the most boring one dimensional, up their own ass, by the codex wankers in the universe. They make the Eldar seem relaxed. How are you even describing that as a story? I've had more complex and engaging turds.
    I really hope next time they get a story and wrap it up in power armour and bolter shells instead of trying to turn prudes like the Ultramarines into likeable heroes. Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, even Imperial Fists but not these blue wankers ever again. Great Concept for a Chapter in 40k: Uptight Roman Legionnarres, absolute dog toffee as entertainment.