Caution: Spoiler contained. Stop reading now just in case.
The package itself was sharp and appealing. It arrived in a priority mail box, and a compact package was shrink wrapped inside the PM box. The beautiful outer sleeve consists of a thin cardboard sleeve, which snugly holds the heavier cardboard box that houses the two components of the Special Edition Collector's set. They are decorated with an intentionally grainy Ultramarine letting loose with his bolter. Obviously placed is the R Restricted motion picture classification. Sweet.
Inside are the movie and extra DVDs housed in a tin DVD case that holds the two discs. The tin resembles a container of some sort, potentially an official Maccrage missive. It is decorated with the same grainy Ultramarines symbol that appears on the cover, and a nice crisp "Ultramarines" title. Opening the case reveals the two discs with artwork printed. Oh, and again, the R rating. Strong, Bloody Violence. The Emperor rewards the faithful.
In addition to the spiffy tin DVD case comes a hard cover bound comic short by Dan Abnett himself, art by David Roach. This comic tells the tale of how the squad in the movie becomes the squad. A little prequel one would say, without Jar Jar, Naboo and the annoying Emperor damned 8 year old kid. Yippee!
The artwork inside the comic is sharp and stylized, and the story is quick and to the point.
SPOILER!!! I warned you. If you want to be surprised, you may as well stop reading here and come back after you watched the movie.
The DVD opens very Star Warsesque with the thrusters of an Astartes Capital Ship maneuvering into position over the Hive World. The survivor of the lost squad is reporting to the captain, and the captain is forced to make his decision. As mentioned before, he decides to lead the new squad out to help the Imperial Fist shrine beacon.
The servitors help the battle brothers don their new armor, and the boys prepare for duty. In one scene, the future hero of the movie is sparing with the captain himself, and just when he thinks has the captain beat, experience comes into play and the Captain bests him. Setting the tone for the rest of the movie.
So, the marines land after some banter between the cautious Apothecary and impetuous marines. They pull out a speeder armed with Multi Melta and the sergeant and a pilot head off to scout.
After some cautious patrol, the squad comes upon a killing field, full of dead Imperial Fist. There was a full company defending the shrine.
Then of course the squad is ambushed, and the pilot and Sergeant on the speeder are killed along with another member of the squad. Smurfs drop like flies! The bested captain volunteers to carry the banner after the bearer is killed, but the captain picks another. This after he also volunteered to take point, and the captain denied him. Is the captain holding the marine in ill favor?
After regrouping, the squad heads into the shrine. And are promptly ambushed by a greater demon. The captain and demon plunge to their apparent deaths locked in combat. The marine bested by the captain is then promoted to Sergeant and given the honor of carrying the captains dropped sword. The Jade Sword.
The boys move on, eventually finding a chaplain and Fist marine. The group teams up and the chaplain explains the demise of the shrine, and their purpose. They are tasked with guarding a book. The book is a relic from the days of Heresy. The marines agree to escort the two fist back to Maccrage. On the way back they are ambushed, and just when all is lost, from the shadows comes the lost captain! No, the marines are not satisfied with the explanation of the chaplain, and hold him in suspicion.
After the ambush, they are all rejoined on the ship, healing. The new Sergeant approaches the captain and explains that he suspects the Chaplain. The two investigate and find the chaplain and Fist marine standing vigil over an EMPTY BOOK! Heretics! The captain immediately executes the chaplain. But wait... the taint, as exposed by the chapter banner, still exists. Before the Ultramarines can figure out what has happened, the captain, actually a demon, attacks. But he is locked out of the shrine, giving the marines a chance to regroup.
So, a couple Ultramarines and the lone Fist chase the demon, and uncover his plan to plant a warp gate in the Ultramarine chapter house itself, and go on to fight him. The rest you will have to find out on your own! The ending is heroic and proud. (of course.)
The Extra DISC:
There are three parts:
This portion of the special disc gives a brief synopsis of each voice actor. I was surprised to see here that the actor who played the Brit Officer in Last of the Mohicans, one of my favorite movies, was one of the actors. Nice touch!
This section gives holographic diagrams of each of the weapons that appears in the movie, and a breakdown of their use. Any vet to Space Marines knows them by heart.
This part holds what appears to be Behind the Scenes stuff. But I would not know. As I tried to watch them on my computer the interface kept crashing.
The final word:
So, as a collector's item, the set is entirely worth it. You have already probably heard some brief reports of the movie. The animation was good, if a bit stiff. But hell, they are heavy, armored warriors. How can you make them not stiff? I felt that there were some brilliant scenes of animation, and some of the action sequences were very well done.
I think that most importantly, the paranoia of the 40k universe screams out. The marines were always suspecting of themselves and those they encountered. The two Imperial Fist marines suspected the Ultras, and so forth. This played into what was sadly a predictable and ill conceived plot device, the Captain being corrupted by a demon. Duh! The minute he came running out of the smoke I knew he was a demon.
But any way. I think that the movie was very well done. In fact, they could pump out one of these every few months and I would pay the 50.00 price tag. I would love a line of these sets decorating my wall of honor.
The action was well done, and I particularly liked the style of the animation. Gritty and dark. My only question was that in a universe where every detachment of Guardsmen has 6 squads of vets bristling with plasma and melta, where were these weapons in this movie? Why did the Ultramarines not have 10 of them? Their bolters seemed ineffective against the demon. They go into dangerous territory equipped with a Heavy Bolter and Flamer??? Why bother when they could have just sent in a Chimera full of 16 year old boys (veteran for Guard) to solve the issue. I mean, really, even the captain was wielding a bolter and chainsword. Where was the 2nd companies bling??? :)
So, if you got the bucks, buy the movie. Or ask for it for Christmas. I guarantee it will earn a spot on your favorite shelf.
Looking forward to the Blood Angel's one! I think they should cut to the chase and produce the Horus Heresy. I think that they would have a gold mine on their hands. Let's see what the future holds! Frankly, if you want to see that happen, every one of you should go out and buy this package. Strong sales are what will bring us more of what we want to see, and only that. Make it so!