Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ultramarines: Movie Review.

Well, I've posted enough clips in anticipation of this film, I guess I ought to do a review of the final product too.

First a little disclaimer: I'm a professional. I work in animation, so I am both sympathetic to the (financial) obstacles this production faced, and unsympathetic to the poor decision-making.

The movie is painfully dull.

I prefer professional voice actors in animation over live-action screen actors coming in to do a voice gig, but I admit that I was excited by the casting of John Hurt & Terence Stamp. Unfortunately, their performances were bland and 1-note. Sadly, their bland performances matched the rest of the film.

Music can be such a powerful tool to enhance events on the screen, create tension or build momentum... but not here. This film was mostly without a score, and when it does pop-up, it's generic and forgettable.

WRITING: I've read other reviews of the film, and fans all expected Dan Abnett to write something sooo amazing that it wouldn't matter what the film looked like; it doesn't work that way. Mr. Abnett wrote a simple, but clever screenplay with a small number of characters and locations, he did his job. My only criticism of the writing was the lame attempts at humour, which just fall flat. In all honesty, these moments felt tacked-on, and were probably re-writes added last-minute at the urging of producers, and probably not Mr. Abnett's fault.

DIRECTING: The reason the film is so incredibly dull is director Martyn Pick. It feels like half this movie is just padding; long walking sequences and lots of smoke. The director's job is to get the best film out of the components he has to work with... clearly Martyn Pick failed to do this.

The reason I was willing to look past the low-budgetness of this movie, was because I was looking forward to seeing the 40K universe come alive! At no point did this film come close to making me suspend my disbelief, and I wanted to! Martyn Pick failed to evoke any of the feelings the GW artwork stirs in fans. Where were the legions of marines, shoulder to shoulder, holding the line, last defense against the Warp and Xenos encroaching from all sides?

This movie should have felt dense with detail and character, dripping with ambiance... instead it felt like watching a couple of guys playing a game of half-court basketball in a big empty gym.


  1. We watched it the other night, and I have to say the cut scenes in the video games were much better.

    I fear this will be the end of Warhammer movies, and may end up as a rare collectable some day.

    The Space Marine video game is looking pretty good though.

    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  2. The video games had a MUCH bigger budget, and a better crew working on them. This was just a case of a small studio biting-off more than they could chew.

    I don't think this is the end of Warhammer movies at all, just the opposite. GW has a much more tangible example of what it takes to make a real movie now. This was a direct-to-DVD experiment, and I think when GW eventually does make the move to the big screen, it'll REALLY be a thing to behold.