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Ultramarines A Warhammer 40,000 Movie
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Ultramarines A Warhammer 40,000 Movie DVD Review For a series with such a devoted fan following you’d have thought that a little more care would have been taken with the first feature set in that universe and as a result it’s hard to recommend this to anyone but the most ardent fan.

Feature 2.0
Video 7.5
Audio 7.5
Special Features 6.0
Total 2.5
Distributor: Anchor Bay
Genre: Action
Running Time: 77 mins
Reviewer: Sean Warhurst
: MA15+


Ultramarines A Warhammer 40,000 Movie

Based on Game Workshop’s popular Warhammer 40,000 franchise, Ultramarines boasts an intricate and established universe as its source material and has managed to rope in some rather big names for what could be considered an extremely esoteric project. Originally produced in 2010 and only made available by ordering the film through official websites, Anchor Bay has stepped up to the plate and provided a wider release, finally offering fans an easier option for viewing the film.

You’d be best served coming into Ultramarines with at least a bit of knowledge about the source material; there is some heavy exposition provided at the beginning for newcomers but for a universe as rich as that of Warhammer 40,000 five minutes of stilted dialogue doesn’t do it any justice. Indeed, many viewers will find themselves bewildered as to what exactly is going on.

The plot concerns the eponymous Ultramarines, Earth’s last bastion against the scourge of the galaxy and the pride of the Space Marines. Heavily indoctrinated with an esoteric code of honour, the Ultramarines draw inspiration from Knights of old, replacing the traditional chainmail with hulking suits of armour and blasters.

The first half of the film amounts to a lot of tired dialogue about the importance of honour and the refusal to yield, followed by a seemingly endless stroll through the desert. After the plodding opening the Ultramarines finally engage their foes, the Warp Daemons, and the remainder of the film focuses on the team as they attempt to defeat their enemy. So far, so clichéd.

The characters are poorly written and are easily interchangeable with generic roles from the countless other films of this ilk: Wise, benevolent leader, hot headed rookie in for a reality check... They’re all present and accounted for.

The cast features such acting luminaries as Terrance Stamp and John Hurt, but their disinterested delivery coupled with what could possibly be the most seriously overblown dialogue ever committed to screen fails to elevate the film to the level assumed due to their presence.

But easily the biggest elephant in the room would have to be the animation – Simply put, it’s so horrid it’s literally eye-rape. Far from the slick CGI of comparable productions, Ultramarines plays like a stiffly animated extended cut scene from a PSOne game. Seriously, it’s that bad.

Characters all seem cast from the same generic template, with very little texture variation at all, and most of the environments, particularly during the first half, amount to a swirling cloud of brown sand. Mouths aren’t synced up correctly, character movements are stiff and poorly animated and even the Ultramarines themselves seem bored by proceedings.

Anchor Bay’s transfer is the sole bright light in this release, with their reliably clean and crisp audio/visual presentation adding credence to what amounts as little more than a glorified fan film. I understand that the budget for Ultramarines wouldn’t cover the catering budget on a Pixar production but when even the execrable Superman 64 has better looking graphics than your feature film, you know you’re in trouble. 

Special Features

Ultramarines has about 50 minutes of supplemental features, with the main focus being the  half hour “Making Of” featurette that, over five parts, manages to cover every aspect of the film’s production. Rounding out the package are short features on the mythology of the Warhammer universe and creature design and an animated graphic novel that serves as a prequel to the film, filling in the back story of the Space Marines and Warp Daemons.

List of Features:

-      Between Chaos and Darkness: The World of the Space Marines (5:58)

-      Into the Void: Making ‘Ultramarines’ (29:47)

-      Creating the Daemon (2:00)

-      Trailer (1:57)

-      Ultramarines Animated Graphic Novel (12:04)

Final Thought

If the story was strong enough maybe you could overlook the horrendous animation but unfortunately Ultramarines makes very little use of the Warhammer universe and what it does use isn’t explained very well. What you’re left with is a yawn inducing ‘Walk-and-Talk’ through the desert and punctuated underwhelming action scenes. Things play out as you’d expect – Lessons are learnt and sacrifices are made, all that jazz, but it’s all too predictable and poorly performed to truly engage the audience.

Long time Warhammer fans could probably chuck another point or two onto the final score, but to an outside observer Ultramarines is the very definition of impenetrable fan service and the ugly production only serves to deter newcomers to the franchise. For a series with such a devoted fan following you’d have thought that a little more care would have been taken with the first feature set in that universe and as a result it’s hard to recommend this to anyone but the most ardent fan.


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