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Short Review of the Ultramarines Movie

14 Jan 2011 11:56 #84630 by panzerattack
I saw the recently released Ultramarines movie over Christmas and I just thought I’d leave my thoughts on it here for anyone who might be interested in buying it.

Unsurprisingly it focuses on the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines. I can understand why this did this – space marines are probably the most iconic characters in 40K and Ultramarines are probably the most iconic of all the space marine chapters. Unfortunately space marines are a bit …. One dimensional. I think it would have made for a much better film if they’d gone for a story based on a troop of Imperial guardsmen or an inquisitor and his retinue but still, I can see why they went with marines.

The script was written by Dan Abnett, who’s the author of some really cracking 40K novels. As soon as I heard they’d got him on board for the project I knew that the story would at least be faithful to the Warhammer universe and I’m pleased to say that it is. It definitely seems to have been written for the fans – there’s no great expositional scenes explaining the universe and there’re lots of little touches thrown in that you’d only really appreciate if you’re familiar with the setting.

The story itself is pretty simple and straightforward really. Our squad of Ultramarines are sent to investigate a distress beacon on a planet. The first half of the film is spent building tension up until the big reveal. The second half involves lots of heroic space marine action – plenty of bolter fire and whirring chainswords.

The film is all cgi. There’s been a lot of criticism on-line over the quality of the cgi but I honestly thought it was fine. It’s definitely not ground breaking cgi work and is a long way behind what the likes of pixar do (so much so that it almost seems a bit daft even comparing the two). You’ve got to appreciate that the film was made on a very limited budget and not expect anything jaw dropping. The budget constraints are most obvious in the out-door scenes on the planet – it’s one heck of a barren, featureless place! Still, I thought the cgi was perfectly serviceable and occasionally quite impressive (I loved the way they did the land speeder).

The voice cast is top notch – John Hurt, Terrence Stamp, Sean Pertwee, Steve Waddington, Donald Sumpter. Despite the talent on show here, with the exception of John Hurt a lot of the voice acting sounded a bit flat to me. Again, this is probably due to the fact that they’re all portraying stoic, dour space marines – I guess there’s not a whole lot of ‘character’ for the actors to get hold of. I’ve got no complaint over the sound effects though – the bolters and other weapons all sound great. One particular stand out effect was the sound of a chainsword tearing through armour – almost as bad as fingers down a blackboard!

All in all I enjoyed the film. I really hope it’s a success and that Codex Pictures make more of them – if they’re bold enough to move away from having space marines as the focus of future stories I can see this company having the ability to make some really good stories. Ultramarines isn’t going to win any awards and it’s not a story that’s going to stay with you, but if you like 40K it’s a very enjoyable way to spend 75 minutes. Just don’t buy it expecting to see something with the production qualities of Avatar.

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14 Jan 2011 11:59 #84632 by panzerattack
Hmmm, don't quite know how I managed to post this to the play by e-mail forum!

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14 Jan 2011 17:42 #84718 by Dogmatix
mmmm...bolters and chainswords....Thanks for the review!

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14 Jan 2011 18:29 #84725 by OldHippy
Great write up, thanks. I never read the fluff novels as it just seems too much of a chore but I would watch the film. Sounds great, I will try to rent/download this thing if possible.

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15 Jan 2011 19:37 #84818 by MattFantastic
Since I know no one that hasn't already is going to watch my interview with Dan Abnett I did at NYCC, I will say that he was really cool to talk to and listening to him talk about writing the script made me think really highly of him as a creator who wants to tell the stories he wants to tell but that also has a huge amount of respect for the fans and the weight of the franchise.

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