I’ve been a fan of Warhammer 40k for a long time now and I currently have 3 armies on the go and I am a massive fan of role-playing games such as Dark Heresy, Black Crusade etc. Having a film about a game cannot always be good for example the 1st hitman film based on the popular game Hitman. Upon watching this for the first time I wasn’t expecting much from it.
Ultramarines is a film about a squad of space marines, of the Ultramarines chapter, investigating an imperial distress beacon coming from a planet’s surface, and it’s their job to investigate, and ending with a dire situation, which could cost the lives of millions.
Written by the amazing mind of Dan Abnett, the story is predictable by the end, however, the story is epic and in true Warhammer 40,000 style, it is filled with bloody and loud fight scenes, victory over the forces of chaos and shouting “FOR THE EMPEROR” a lot.
The characters are the usual 40k type characters and this film, however, revolves mainly around Brother Proteus an ultramarine, who is part of the rescue team. His character is full of ambition and drive to do better as he is always the first to volunteer himself for deadly and simple tasks. He is constantly attempting to prove himself, for example, he talks with Captain Serverus (Terence Stamp) about the taint of chaos and if he has the courage to banish it if he came face to face with it, and he replies with a very courageous and strong: “Yes captain, I do”.
The story, however, does tend to slow down in places, but thankfully in my opinion, it doesn’t harm the pace of the film, as it manages to keep its suspense and tension with dramatic cut scenes and quiet moments where you can only hear the steps of the ultramarines armour.
The story is even more enthralling due to the quality of the acting from Terence Stamp as Captain Serverus and the extremely talented John Hurt as Chaplin Carnak of the Imperial Fists Chapter of space marines, who was charged with protecting a holy relic. The quality of the acting really adds to the film story and helps from keeping the story from dulling down.
The only down side to this film, granted it’s a big one, is the animation. Granted it wasn’t a high budget film or had a lot of publicity so a lot of people have never heard of it unless you are a part of the Warhammer gaming scene. The animation, even though not good was done well, but it did look like it was a compilation of cut scenes from an early video game. Some of the facial expressions are either over-exaggerated or not emotional enough and an obvious mix of live action explosions and animations is annoyingly noticeable. Although the fighting animation may still be awful, its overreaching movement lets us see what is actually happening instead of multiple close up scenes where we can’t see what is happening.
Overall, Ultramarines is a brilliantly voice acted film which is full of tension, and brilliantly written by the amazing Dan Abnett with its only down side being the animation. In my opinion, this is a film every Warhammer fan should see.