Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Ultramarines (A Spoiler-Free Review)

So, I don't do as many reviews as some of the other blaggers in our circle, (I personally find them a bit dry to write), but I promised to put up some thoughts about the Ultramarines movie when I watched it, so here we go.

Here is a 'Rome's Rapid Rubric*' breakdown of the movie:


*[Note that Rome's Rapid Rubric only accounts for these factors by volume, not by quality. This is particularly important for 'plot,' which is 'how complicated is the plot,' and not 'how good is the plot.'  Inception is a 6 in plot, while Primer is a 9, but this doesn't mean Primer is "better" - it just packs more "goings-on" into the time it has.]

**[In the RRR, Fanservice ONLY denotes sexually-oriented fanservice.  Other kinds of fanservice certainly exist, but are too nebulous to deal with in this intentionally over-simplified metric.]

I went in with a very specific set of expectations, and I was satisfied.  I expected to see the Ultramarines kick some ass, and the film did not disappoint in that regard.  The plot was pretty solid and though it was in no way revolutionary it was a more than serviceable as a vehicle for the main event (the action).  It wasn't excessively predictable - the 'plot summary' that TG built from the trailers alone proved to be wrong (warning: Spoilers, Nerdrage, Misinformation, and Heresy regarding the possible divinity of John Hurt) so that's something, at least.

("The Action," courtesy Bell of Lost Souls)

The CG was the part of the film that your average person will probably have the most trouble with.  It was far from photorealistic, but they tried hard enough that it slipped into the uncanny valley at times.  Personally, I would have gone with more stylized CG instead of attempting photorealism with an insufficient budget.  The long and short of it is that machines (power armor, vehicles, etc) all look pretty good, and faces look kind of... off.  If you can get over that, though, you can probably enjoy the visuals - they are quite detailed, and at times they can be pretty impressive.  Just don't go in expecting Tron: Legacy or a modern-day Blizzard cinematic and you won't be disappointed.  The characters also wear helmets for much of the film, which helps a bit.

For Warhammer 40k fanatics, however, the slightly outdated (if pretty well-implemented) visuals are not going to be the major point of contention.  No, as forums have shown already, the greatest source of RAAAAEG is "Why Isn't This Movie About My Army of Choice?" syndrome.  However, before you post yet another thread about how "overpowered" the Ultramarines were in this movie and how it's really the Blood Angels/Space Wolves/White Scars/Rainbow Warriors/Imperial Guard/Adeptus Janitorius who are the real heroes of the Imperium and deserve this kind of attention, remember this little fact about Warhammer 40k: every faction gets to be the 'big heroes' in their own novels, comics, stories, etc.  If they make more movies, of course, I'd like to see them branch out from the Ultramarines, but it's not a bad starting place, either.

So I think that's how I'll sum it up.  It was a good start.  I wasn't floored by it, but I enjoyed watching it - I'll almost certainly watch it again sooner or later.  I don't know if it was commercially successful (I somehow doubt it, but who knows), but if Codex Pictures makes another Warhammer 40k film, I'll want to pick it up.  Unless it's about the Blood Angels.  F*ck those Mary Sues and their sparkly bishounen vampire crap.



  1. That's silly. Everyone knows that the forces of Chaos are the real heroes of the Imperium; liberating humanity from the oppression of the corpse pope one flayed soul at a time.

  2. HERETIC! How dare you disparage the honor of the corpse-pope!

  3. It's not so much "army of choice" but rather "race/empire of choice" which makes mine a much better argument!

  4. Yeah, I guess those Eldar are pretty cool guys, eh. Love to screw with the other races and doesn't afraid of anything except getting their souls eaten.

    But you know that they wouldn't be able to resist throwing in a bunch of Elfdar fanservice, and that would make me sad.