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Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie (2010) Movie Review
I have been a huge fan of Warhammer 40,000 for many years, having collected, painted and gamed with a number of different armies. I have also read a large amount of Games Workshop's Black Library books and, in my opinion, the Warhammer 40K universe is among the best Science Fiction universes ever created. A dark galaxy with little to no hope for humanity, yet mankind continues to live on in an endless struggle against aliens, daemons and other, darker threats. In that grim darkness of the 41st millennium, there is only war.
So, when I discovered that a movie was being released set in this universe I was, naturally, very excited. And I was not disappointed. Blending suitable amounts of violence with incredible action scenes and an engaging storyline, "Ultramarines" is an animated movie that is sure to delight fans of Warhammer 40K. I do, however, feel that this is the only audience it is likely to impress. The movie uses terms such as "Chaos", "Daemon", "Apothecary", "Primarch" and "Gene-Seed" as though the viewer is expected to know what these mean. And, whilst this is not a problem for those familiar with the lore, I can imagine that it would confuse many others to a point where the movie as a whole would cease to make much sense. Overall, this is an excellent movie but only for those already familiar with the universe.
After a short introduction, the movie opens on the Ultramarine Space Cruiser immediately prior to a Tactical Squad's first taste of combat. Captain Severus (Terence Stamp) explains that a distress beacon has been sent from a nearby planet from another Space Marine chapter known as the Imperial Fists. Brother Proteus (Sean Pertwee) is eager to get into combat and experience glory though the squad's medic, Apothecary Pythol (Donald Sumpter, Game of Thrones) chastises him for this attitude.
Almost as soon as they land on the planet, it becomes clear that something is not right. There is no one to be seen and yet the distress beacon is still relaying. As the story unfolds, the small squad of Ultramarines must press forward into the heart of darkness and confront horrors that lurk in the Warp, a realm beyond the material. On the way, the encounter the strange Chaplain Carnak (John Hurt) and an evil that threatens to destroy the Ultramarine homeworld itself.
A Thrilling Adventure for Fans of Warhammer 40K
Filled with bloody violence and action worthy of the universe in which it is set, "Ultramarines" delivers an exciting adventure to the Warhammer 40,000 fan base. Firstly, the story. The screenplay was written by Dan Abnett who, as many 40K fans will know, is one of the most prolific writers for the Black Library having penned books such as "Horus Rising" and the "Gaunt's Ghosts" series. The story is very well written involving good amounts of action and intrigue on top of a solid, easy-to-follow plot. Clocking in at just over an hour and a quarter, the story kept me engaged throughout, something that admittedly doesn't happen very often.
The great story is only added to by the incredible voice acting. The cast consists of a number of big names including Terence Stamp (Superman, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Halo 3), Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, Event Horizon, Gotham), Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones) and John Hurt (Alien, Doctor Who, V for Vendetta). The visuals are equally good and really fit into the 40K universe. Bleak planets, grand medieval-style starship interiors and well-made gore effects really evoke the feeling of the universe and make this movie a joy to watch.
For 40K Fans Only
As I've mentioned above, my main criticism with this movie is that it seems only to be aimed at those who are already familiar with Warhammer 40,000 lore and doesn't reach out to a wider audience. I can imagine that going into this movie without prior knowledge of the lore would be confusing. However, this is only a minor criticism as I suspect that the vast majority of people who would watch this film have at least some knowledge of the 40K universe anyway and that its relatively small target audience was intentional.
My only other minor criticism is that, with all the beautiful lore available, I can't help but feel that more could have been done with this movie. We see the Ultramarines, two Imperial Fists, Chaos Space Marines and a Daemon Prince. But the universe in which "Ultramarines" is set contains so much more. On the other hand, I do feel that adding too much more to the movie would have over-complicated the simple but effective storyline and thus this is certainly not a major criticism.
"Ultramarines" (2010) Trailer
"Ultramarines" is an excellent movie and a must-watch for anyone even remotely into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. With great action, incredible voice acting and an excellent story, this movie is almost certain to delight 40K fans.
I would not, however, recommend this to those who are not into Games Workshop and/or Warhammer 40,000. But for those who, like me, love the dark Si-Fi universe Games Workshop has created, you should definitely give "Ultramarines" a watch. You will not be disappointed.