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.