This week, Anchor Bay unleashes the animated version of the Games Workshop tabletop game and brings unfamiliar viewers into an expansive, dystopian, and violent world.
The downside to the film is that CG films have such high standards now, set by Pixar, Dreamworks, and others, that I expected a higher level to the facial textures and environments that we are introduced to through the course of the adventure. I was also less than happy with the movement of the characters, they seemed a little too clunky in their movements, too choppy. In the end it ended up being a form of animation that may have seemed more suitable to cut scenes from a video game.
The film really moves when the action sequences come into play (though it can’t seem to decide how bloody it wants to be, or what they want to show in terms of gore), but in those other moments, it’s the level of the voice actors that raise the level of the film, the voice cast includes John Hurt, Sean Pertwee and Terrence Stamp, the three of them add a gravitas, and a reality to the film, and it was them who actually brought me into the film.
Imagine the Crusades were taking place in the far distant future, not on our planet but spanning worlds. Kitted out in massive suits of armor, that are embossed and detailed with iconography, the Ultramarines are the most impressive battle units ever created. Armed with giant blasters, and chain-swords they fight for the Emperor, and they know no fear. They travel in giant cruisers, who’s exteriors, and interiors are cathedral-like in nature, alcoves filled with statues, stained-glass windows, and sacred relics.
Their enemies are aliens and daemons. Their own men can fall to Chaos, and transform into inter-spatial beasts, intent on wiping out all of humanity and claiming our space as their own.
Our unit of the Ultramarines, a mix of veterans and raw recruits are racing to the aid of another division the Iron Fist, whose leader, Carnak (Hurt) has the coolest helmet in the movie, in the shape of a human skull. A beacon is calling them, and they are determined to discover the source and rescue their fellows.
But there may be more going on here than we realize, and what happens if some of their own men are succumbing to Chaos.
It’s an expansive world, and would be an interesting visit with more time (the film runs 77 minutes) and more detail as we’ve come to expect from CG animated films, as it stands it serves more as a teaser for the game and the worlds it creates.
No doubt, Warhammer 40k fans will enjoy it, but most viewers nowadays may not be able to buy into it.
If you’re interested in the world, and I rather like the idea of the Crusades thrown out into deep space, though perhaps a better name than Ultramarines may serve better, it’s worth a look. At least now when I go to conventions and see it being played on table tops in the gaming section I’ll know what it is.
Do you play it? Have you seen the movie?
Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie is available today on collector DVD and blu-ray!