Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ultramarines the Movie

It has been a weekend of movies for me! On Saturday I headed up to the Big Smoke for a film day with friends Liz and Mark (from My Favourite Books) and Alex Bell (author extraordinaire). We kicked the event off with The Princess Bride (classic, funny, romantic, perfect fantasy fare), then embarked on both red wine and Serenity after a spot of lunch. Although not as good as the series Firefly which preceded it, Serenity is excellent viewing - plus Alex had never seen it, and I always enjoy bringing it to more people's attentions.

Next The Spiderwick Chronicles (amusing, light-hearted and with a real folklore feel) and finally Hot Fuzz (stunningly stupid but so damn funny). A great day's viewing, I think you will agree. Much red wine was consumed, and Casa De Jager was the perfect venue!

But this post is mainly about the events of Sunday...

Thanks to the generosity of Nik and Dan Abnett, I received a much coveted ticket to the pre-release screening of Ultramarines the Movie in the Odeon, Shaftesbury Avenue. Me and Mark spent the entire train trip to the screening trying not to bounce with excitement *grin*.

I confess I haven't been following the build up massively (Mark is entirely different - he has been watching the trailer to death!) but the idea of watching a proper space marine movie was SO brilliant: massive superhumans clad in power armour, wielding death with chainsaw and bolter.

The excitement built right from the queue, but it was really when we were sat in the auditorium waiting for events to kick off that I had to pinch myself. Everyone was so friendly, chatting and laughing and anticipating the movie we were about to see. I've decided I rather like pre-release showings!

So... to my review of the movie:

Let's start with the awesome! The screenplay was right on the money - at times a little cheesy, but with fist punching moments of brilliance. Dan Abnett has written a classic war film, but added in fantastic Warhammer 40K touches which let you know exactly what you are watching. It has the feel of a Horus Heresy novel in tone - mostly dark and grim, but with flashes of humour that were handled superbly.

The score was also excellent - ominous and awe-inspiring by turn; never over-powering but lending a real atmosphere to the film.

Some of the rendering was superb, in particular the demons. They were genuinely chilling, and looked exactly as I imagined they would from the figures produced by Games Workshop. They moved fluidly and added real menace to the proceedings.

Now to the good... In general, the look of the film was beautiful, if inconsistent. I loved the little geek touches - the warhammer was brilliant, the weapons (chainsaws, flamers and bolters) were as realistic as futuristic weapons can be, and seeing things like Landspeeders on screen made me squee a little inside.

Now to the poor: The film was slight in plot, which was disappointing considering the stories available from the background of the Ultramarines. Although I admire the fact that the film was able to bring in the talents of people like Terence Stamp and John Hurt, I found Sean Pertwee's voice too distinctive to really engage with the character he portrayed - admittedly this was a fault of mine, rather than that of the film! At times the animation work felt a little "cheap".

However, the biggest fault of the film is that it was far too short! This is a great thing! I could have watched it for hours more, and will be rewatching the film once I have my copy in hand. There is something extremely special seeing Space Marines brought to 'life' and I think any fan of Warhammer 40K will find something to enjoy here. A decent effort, and I hope the people involved will be able to build on the success of the first.


  1. if the biggest fault of the film is that there wasn't enough then it isn't really a fault with the film - or something like that, quote from zero punctuation..

    great review! cant wait to get mine

  2. Great review! Anyone have ANY idea when we can expect delivery of this film (United States)?

  3. Im a bit annoyed since when you pre-order you should get it the day its released otherwise theres no point in pre-ordering!

  4. Agreed. Whats the point is stating a world wide release of the 29th November and not having it? I'm chomping at the bit to get my hands on my copy, but the website says processing, and no email telling me its on its way.

    I have to say though it looks fantastic. Can't wait to see it.

  5. Apparently they are having production problems? Hmmm why am I not surprised. Happy to take our money then fail to deliver. Not happy, not happy at all. Disappointed isn't the word.

  6. Must be nice to get tickets to the pre-screen when some of us have pre-ordered this movie back in October and have yet to receieve their product as of January 5th 2011, and even worse, the support staff stopped replying to emails as of December 21st 2010. Must be really nice to know that they didnt take your money and run off with it effectively stealing from you and ignoring your existance. Yeah must be nice.

    Sorry for coming off as a dick, but I am doing everything within my power to make it known that the company Codex Pictures has some of the worst support staff I have ever encountered, and to this date has effectively stolen money from a long time WarHammer Universe fan.

    My name is Colin O'Connor and my email that I used to communicate with Codex Pictures is