Movie Review: ULTRAMARINES *Spoilers*

Production Company: Codex Pictures
Director: Martyn Pick
Producer: David Kerney and Bob Thompson
Screenwriter: Dan Abnett
Budget: £6 million, $9 million

Well Codex, for what it’s worth you made a descent first attempt. ULTRAMARINES is a science fiction movie(Imagine That!) set in the Warhammer 40,00 universe which follows the struggles of Captain Severus of the Ultramarines, Apothecary Pythol, and a squad of newly appointed tactical marines. The screenplay was written by Black Library legend and accomplished novelist Dan Abnett, who has had dozens of books worth of experience, but lacks any sort of film experience. It is a CGI film that uses motion capture technology to acquire intensly human *cough* *cough* facial expressions for the animated character models. And what I mean by this is that it ends up giving what looks like a couple of 80 year olds in power armor a stressed look of constipation at key moments in the film. This is much to be expected however, when trying to utilize such features in a film with a budget of only £6 million. There were plenty of good things to be found in this film as well though.
The movie opens up with a short sparring session between the main protagonist and his captain. The Ultramarines soon receive a distress beacon however, which beckons them to the distant backwater planet of Mythron were a company of Imperial Fists spacemarines were stationed. After being forced to take a long distance ground approach to the shrine housing the beacon because of a strange weather anomaly, the marines find the area around their destination littered with the carcasses of the besieged Imperial Fists. There is an abundance of eight pointed stars fashioned from corpses, which immediately alludes to the fact that the forces of chaos are to blame. Sure enough, 10 minutes later you have chaos spacemarines killing the superhuman spacemarines with single bullets to the stomach and shoulders. Oh yeah, did I mention that they are supposed to be superhuman? That’s right, 7’5″ men in power armor with almost 20 extra organs for durability, which are the pinnacle of bio-engineering warfare are dying from lone bullet wounds to the stomach. Did I mention they have 2 hearts!? But we’ll just pretend that this nonsense is actually much more believable than it really is, for the sake of enjoying the movie. At any rate, the marines finally reach the shrine were they find a demon of chaos which manages to kill Captain Severus in a rather anticlimactic battle that ends with both falling into a seemingly endless chasm(Yup, even Warhammer has them). Commands are passed down to the main character(The black sheep of the squad) Proteus, along with a shiny new chainsword which has proven to be nothing but a badass looking paper weight up to this point. Despite the death of their captain, Proteus decides to continue on to the source of the beacon which ends up producing a whopping 2 surviving Imperial Fists. This number is in fact less than the amount of men the Ultramarines have lost just looking for these 2 scrubs. Proteus discovers that the entire purpose of the beacon was not to attract rescuers for themselves, but rather an ancient codex(Fancy talk for old book) that was given to their chapter by the emperor himself(Lore Nerds attack!). By now they are all on their way back to the extraction point, but are ambushed by traitor marines who want to wear their skin as berqas. This subsequently ends in an epic battle which sees the return of the very much not dead Captain Severus, who apparently guts a can of spinach and proceeds to kill everything in sight. They then proceed to return to their ship were Proteus accuses the Imperial Fists Chaplain of corruption. A corrupt chaplain? What a shidiot. It ends up being the captain who is corrupted by the demon which goes on a brain feasting rampage across the ship. Long ending short. Rivals Proteus and Verinor team up to take down the demon in a hammer filled final battle that sees Proteus becoming the new captain.
It really should get a lot of credit though for 2 key areas that it did succeed in. The first is the sound. I say sound rather than music, because it does more than simply music well. It has very gothic choral music with a heavy atmospheric feel to it, which fits the theme of the film amazingly. That aside, the real surprise in this department was the weaponry’s sound effects. The bolter had such a heavy booming crack that made it sound like a device of raw, explosive power. Along side the bolter was the chainsword, which sounded like a lighter chainsaw that would give off a cringe inducing squeal as it stalled and sputtered its way through the bone of foes. The second upside was its credibility. It stayed so closely to the Warhammer 40k lore that it might as well have taken it back to the champagne room and tongued its throat. It was however a little too accurate, to the point of making cliched one liners such as “We march for Macragge” and “The Emperor Protects” occur every 3 minutes. Alas, that unfortunately sums up most of the good in this movie. Oh wait! The snazzy presentation of the collectors edition that I purchased was a definite bonus.(Even though due to shipping errors by Codex, all orders arrived 3 weeks late)

The Bad? Well I’ll put it this way; There are enough bad things to point out that I am going to abandon the traditional paragraph style for a bulleted list.

  • Too many “We march for Macragge!”s
  • Very little character developement.
  • Too much walking around aimlessly in a dusty, detailless landscape. (Probably done to save money. Who needs a rich environment anyway?)
  • Apparently the Flamer is really just an unnecessarily large flashlight?
  • For being written by Black Library legend Dan Abnett, this movie’s story was rather simple and uninspiring.
  • While voice acting was great when it actually happened, it seldom made an appearance throughout this film.
  • Movie was veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery slow paced.
  • CGI quality was inconsistent, looking stunning at some points in the movie, while breaking down into early 2000’s video game graphics in others.
  • Last one is just a simple little gripe, but what the Hell is with the Imperial Aquillas on the strike cruiser? They are all supposed to look the same. Those ones were blobby and uneven. They looked like the normal Aquilla’s retarded inbred cousin.
After all is said and done though, would I watch this again? Being a Warhammer enthusiast, Hell yes. But I highly doubt anybody else would ever seriously consider watching this film again. Overall, I’m going to have to grade it based on all other low budget science fiction movies, so it will actually fare quite well. Based on the budget, and being produced by a company with 1 previous movie under its belt(and that’s just the animation team, not the actual production company), I would have to give it a..
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~ by oldbloodalex on October 29, 2011.

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