18 Jan 2011

Ultramarines Movie Review

I recently had chance to check out the Ultramarines movie and thought I would share my thoughts.

Hopefully in the near future Pornstarjedi and Siph will also get a chance to watch it and offer their opinions (Pornstarjedi being Marneus Calgar’s No.1 fan will of course not cloud his judgement whatsoever….) and because of that, I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible.

Where to start? Ok – I watch quite a lot of films – in fact I am more of a film geek than a GW geek, so I’d like to think my opinion is based on my view of Ultramarines as a film and not viewed through rose-tinted glasses. That said, I watch lots of indie and low budget productions (particularly horror), so I try to keep an open mind and am more than willing to look past sub-par effects/visual quality if the makers have a quality story they are trying to tell.

I think this film was always going to be about the resources the film-makers had and what they did with them (I’d love to see the Battle of Macragge in the epic scale of Lord of the Rings…but its not going to happen any time soon).

Overall, I would say that they didn’t do a bad job, although I feel that ultimately, the film is let down by it’s average plot (something happens somewhere, a team of bad-asses are sent in where they are picked off one by one and then there’s a bit of a twist) that we have seen a hundred times before. Many would say that the fluff is what makes GW so great - and this generic plot wouldn’t even feature as a filler story in a codex.

Visually, the film is inconsistent. The main character models are stunningly detailed and really do justice to the Ultramarine canon and associated art work. The Land Speeder and Chaplain were particularly noteworthy.

However, that level of detail does not spread throughout the rest of the film – the “supporting cast” and environments really do vary in quality – from good, to looking like they belong in a PS2 game cut-scene.

The key to making a quality film on a budget is “use what you have”, which is why I hoped that the film-makers would have been more innovative and used the IP more effectively.

Although I loved the voice actors – I have to ask myself what they could have done with that money instead? Develop the story more using decades worth of source material? Perhaps spread the higher levels of animated detail throughout the film more?

The film has a limited niche appeal and the addition of high profile actors won’t help it to spread to a wider audience (the plot makes no attempt to explain the 40K universe and the CG visuals cannot compared to the likes of Pixar – things that the fans will look past but the general public wont). We are the target audience and we were going to watch the film regardless of the fact that it stars John Hurt, Sean Pertwee and Terence Stamp.

I am definitely not disappointed with the film – I just feel that the film makers had a wealth of quality material and with a little more vision, could have created something that was “surprisingly good” rather than “expectedly average”.

Regardless of what I think - if you are reading this blog then the film is for you. So watch it and leave us a comment to let us know what you think.


  1. I'd agree with all of that; especially the idea that the target audience would watch it regardless of the noteworthy named (voice) actors.

    Aside from the Ultrasmrufs being the most iconic faction of the most iconic army in 40K; nonetheless a film about something other than Ultra(Space)Marines would possibly have had more appeal. The short story "15 Hours" would, IMHO, make for a better film.

    Hopefully "Ultramarines, the movie" will have been a success and lead to another project that addresses some of the points in the original post.

  2. Yes, I've little to disagree upon.
    One could easily say the movie's full of lost potential.


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