Whizzwang Vs Ultramrines The Movie
So, where to begin?
I am by no means a writer or reviewer. I am an average bloke that plays 40k. This review will no doubt be a random collection of thoughts as and when they occur to me, so try to keep up.
Let us start with the trailers.
I will admit to being less than impressed by the trailers that were released for this. I believe I am on record somewhere as saying they were a steaming pile of crap.
The teaser trailer did not tease and the first full trailer just did not have enough attention grabber in it. That being said, the second trailer released was certainly an improvement. I cannot help thinking that Code Pictures were aware of the underwhelming feelings we had towards the first offerings and upped their game a little.
There is a wave of negative criticism on the net at the moment about the animation. What we have seen so far has not really made us sit up and take note. It is certainly very detailed, but it just does not feel right. I am putting this down to the shape of the marines. Which when you think about it makes sense. We are used to the proportions we see on our models, and those do not translate to real world physics at all well.
Overall, my expectations for the movie were very low. I turned up to the screening expecting the worst.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.
The screenplay is a Dan Abnett affair, so we were always going to be onto a winner there. The plot advances at typical Abnett pace and there is enough going on to keep the momentum going without getting too carried away or falling behind. It is abundantly clear Dan wrote it. Just the right amount of humorous one-liners alongside the main plot and action. If you have read any of his books, you will be comfortable with the style of story telling in this movie.
While I would love to expand more on this, I would not want to spoil any plot
Animation, that internet bugbear. Honestly, it is actually pretty good. The detail in some of the shots is stunning. Facial expressions, the gore and some fantastic panoramic shots.
The opening scene is very well created and serves to grab your attention straight away. Throughout the film, there are some very well produced shots, even a James Cameron-esque “foot” shot of a thunderhawk landing gear as it lands.
As I mentioned above, it is not so much the quality of the animation, it is the physical portrayal of the marines themselves. Obviously, we all have our own preconceived ideas on how marines operate, move and interact with each other and their environment. For me, they just did not quite have enough presence. They do not seem “heavy” enough. While I desperately try not to spoil anything, there is one particular scene where a marine has to make a leap forward, from the fiction we have been exposed to via the black library, you would expect a very resounding “thud” on landing, and that is not there. The footsteps are too light for the towering superhumans we know and love. In retrospect, the film is an hour and twenty minutes long, a constant drone of “thump, thump, thump, thump” as marines walk around would be a bit annoying. You can liken this to The Simpsons. In series one, maggy can be audibly heard to suck her dummy whenever she is off screen, the creators canned this idea early on as it detracted from the main focus of those scenes. I can only assume that same decision was made here. Sadly, this also makes them seem a little less marine like.
With the rescaling of the marines themselves, we get RIDICULOUSLY huge boltguns. These I cannot approve of enough. They look like they deal the devastation they are supposed to not the little popguns they have in game.
The film clocks in at 78mins and sadly feels a lot shorter. That being said, talking to a couple of guys afterwards one of them made an excellent observation. We have wanted a 40k film for so long, even if it was 6 hours long we would still want more.
When you consider how small the budget was for this movie, it does throw it all in perspective. The producers had to raise all the funds themselves. Outside of giving the green light to Codex to let them create the film, Games Workshop have had very little input in the process, much like any other use of the licence. Animation itself being the most expensive form of film making, raising the funds needed would have been no small feat.
Codex Pictures have definitely done a fantastic job with what they had available.
Is this the most fantastic sci-fi film ever made? Was it worth the 20 year wait? Is it everything we want from a 40k movie and more?
Unfortunately, the answer is no… but then it was never going to be. We have had 20 years of 40k to create our own preconceptions of what a 40k movie should look like
HOWEVER, does it stay true to our beloved universe? Is it a cool engrossing story about Space Marines? Does shit blow up? Does stuff get shot? The answer is definitely a resounding yes.
Most importantly, should you order yourself a copy?
Yes, you should. It is a 40k film for God’s sake and a pretty damn good one to boot. It is not fantastically awesome and it was never going to be it is however something you should definitely buy if you are a fan of 40k. Partly because it’s actually pretty good, and partly because the greater it’s success, the higher the chance we get a second or third or fourth offering, and I for one would love to see what we’d get with a much larger budget