Ultramarines: The Movie, a Jawaballs Review

Joy!  After a very long wait, my copy of Ultramarines The Movie finally arrived.  First thing, I have to say that if it were Blood Angels, The Movie I would have liked it more. Just Saying.

Caution: Spoiler contained. Stop reading now just in case.

The opened package.

Jawababy want shrinkwrap!

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.

 Last warning!

Inside the cover of the comic.

The comic tells the tale of a squad of Ultramarine Neophytes, tasked with holding the flank of the Ultramarine 2nd company retaking of a Hive World.  The scouts are grumbling about being told to protect their butts and want to get action. Meanwhile, squad Ultrus (I forget the name, we will call it Ultrus) was bushwacked by a brood of Genestealers and wiped out save one.  The surviver managed to escape and report.  Faced with a decision between staying to retake this Hive World, and sending help to answer an Imperial Fist Shrine help beacon, the captain of the 2nd company decides to promote the scouts to full Space Marine, and uses them to replace the lost Squad Ultrus.  He then leads them, along with an apothocary and the sole original member of the squad who is now Sergeant to help the Fist, leaving the mop up of the Hive World to the incoming 3rd company.

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:

The Thunderhawk:
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!

The Armory:
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.

The Infirmary:
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!


A big fat greasy thumbs up.


chaplainaerion said...

That's easy, seo. We've been waiting for 20+ years (some of us) and it's about dang time. Seriously, they could have put out a "movie" of still stick figures being "animated" by a palsied arthritic flipping them rapidly in sequence and we would have bought it "just to see". The buzz is due to the fact that they actually took the time to lay down a story (granted, not War and Peace, but it's a story), hire high quality voice talent, and put some bucks into evocative animation that really captures the feel of our chosen playground. It's not Oscar worthy, but really, who expected it to be? I know I didn't. I got what I paid for and I'm totally okay with that.

Jawaballs said...

I removed Seo's comment. It was just spam.

Shadowvast said...

Did you find the hidden extras? as you watch the various extras, look back through the "rooms" in the menu. This reveals new extras.

Big Bad Garou said...

Start the drinking game. Every time you hear "And they shall know no fear!" take a shot.

Jawaballs said...

Cool I will have to check it out. I have to put it in my DVD player to see why the video was not working.

GDMNW said...

You really weren't kidding when you gave that spoiler warning were you? That's a synopsis!

About the only thing you missed was the Chaplain's appalling delivery of a couple of jokes...

I'd digesting it. I'm not sure how I feel about it at the moment.

Jawaballs said...

Haha yah, once I started writing, I could not stop myself! :) But I did give plenty of warnings!

tim said...

last of the Mohicans was a great movie. Now I need to go out and by this one :)

Doomicon said...

JB, Got my copy yesterday and watched last night, spot on review. I just tell people: "As long as you understand this isn't Pixar, with a Pixar budget, you'll enjoy the movie. If your expecting 'Avatar' quality CGI you'll be disappointed.".

I was presently surprised it wasn't just action, and was a good/suspenseful story, with GREAT voice acting. Oh, and some really good action.

The Solstice Gnome said...

Uhg, you watch the dumbest frickin' movies. You are for sure getting an upper decker this Solstice.

Jawaballs said...

Suck it you hairy little pocket elf.

Mephistopheles said...

@Doomicon- you do know they apparently had a $9m budget right? they could at least do something better than the animation of starship troopers: roughneck chronicles...

Apart from the GW reviews (in which i think they were too stunned to pay much attention to the reality of it), this is the only semi decent review ive read thus far, as my copy hasnt arrived, living way down the ass end of australia...

Dont get me wrong, id get it anyway to give them the moral boost to get another movie out, but still, from what ive heard so far, im thinkin that money could of been better spent for now...

guess i wont know til ive watched it though...

Jawaballs said...

I've never seen the Starship Troopers movie. But I can say that 9 million is just a pittance compared to movies like Toy Story 3. Take into consideration marketing, actor salary, and distribution, and I think they did pretty damned good with the animation. The ultimate goal here should be for every one to buy it, that way they will be encouraged to spend even more, and make even more.

The Solstice Gnome said...

Hey dick-lips, I'm a frickin' gnome. A gnome goddam you.

Mephistopheles said...

hey jawa, not the starship troopers movie, the CG series.
the starship troopers movie uses real people, the series is all comp gen.
youtube 'starship troopers: roughneck chronicles', and youll see what i mean

Anonymous said...

I must say, I was overall okay with it. Although I am sure if I spent $40 for it, I would be very disappointed! The CGI was comparable to the 90's Transformers: Beast Wars series, although that rocked for its time. I think next time they should invest less into named British actors and more into the overall production value. The intro's to DOW 1/2 had way better presentation and graphics.

I will of course look forward to any other 40k movie, but it seems that with the 40k video game market depicting our beloved universe so well, that it is time for the movie to pick up its quality to match as well.

Dex said...

I just finished watching it, and overall, would rate it a 4/10. Granted, most of that low rating is due to the exceedingly high expectations and hype that came with the movie.
My main gripe was the visuals. I'm not one of those idiots who thinks that graphics make a movie great, in fact I refuse to see Avatar and Transformers 2 simply because I think the plot sounds stupid. However, these graphics are on par with Saturday-morning cartoons from ten years ago. Also, am I the only one who thought the Marines were proportioned weird? They had such massive upper bodies, perched upon chicken legs. I know that the 40k models themselves have bizarre proportions, but I feel that the "heroic scale" should have been adjusted to be a more realistic interpretation of hulking super-men in suits of inches-thick armor.
The good part of the movie was that it was a high level of immersion. It really did capture the paranoid, dark, gritty, stubborn nature of the Imperium in the 41st millennium. This movie would be a good way for someone who knows nothing about the hobby to learn the bare essentials, and be able to expand their interest from there.
Other downsides of the movie, for me, were a slow plot, enemies without names or faces (or purpose), and predictable twists. I remember thinking to myself, as the Captain fell to his apparent doom locked in combat with the Daemon, "I bet he comes back harboring the taint of Chaos". Terribly predictable for anyone familiar with the sort of textbook plot devices that Games Workshop uses to drive their narrative.

So that's a lot of complaining, but I think that anyone who is about to watch this movie for the first time should take it with a grain of salt. This movie is short yet slow, and relatively unintelligent while still capturing the right mood.

Jawaballs said...

I just received a comment that I am choosing not to publish because it is some dude flaming the movie, the producers and every one who did not hate it with typical troll like weakness. he offers no reason for his attacks other than offensive opinion. It is ok to disagree with me, and to dislike the movie. But it has to be done right. Dex managed to do it very well in his comment above this one.

The bottom line here is that my blog is NOT BoLS, Blood of Kittens or Dakka. Freedom of speech does not exist here in the way that all of the internet tough guys like to trumpet. You are welcome to write your opinions, but I expect that if you are commenting on my posts, arguing, disagreeing or making your own good points, you do so with respect and taste. The commenter in question did none of that.

It is perfectly within reason for me to expect that you can communicate like an educated and civil adult. Those of you who cannot do that will simply have your comments deleted. The best way to deal with a troll is to deny him the media within which to spew his trash.

If you cannot comment on my blog without some taste, don't bother at all. I don't need your garbage and most every one else appreciates that stance.

GAZ NZ said...

Id rate the movie a 7/10.
Its worth getting and supporting 40k movie making.
Could have been better but for the first 40k movie done on a low budget it was fine.
The xtras were ok - was interesting hearing about how they made the movie. Dan Abnett is apparently a natural screen writer.

One of the issues I had was the lack of Marine ammo packs etc. I have advised the makers of the movie of this. How can a marine shoot lots with no visible ammo packs on them to reload.
GW never have marines carring ammo much in any pics and / or few marine models and I think the creators prob went with this image they got from GW pics etc.
Else was a good movie.
Buy and support.

fal|endeath said...

firstly, i would like to just say i love the ultramarines. and i feel its a let down. the trailer offered alot of hope. the character facial feature (in the trailer) looked promising. however, he turned out to be too old. much more older than a space marine would be depicted in the novels.

And the captain's behaviour didnt seem to match any ultramarine character that i have read or come to imagine as. seems more fitting for the emperor's chapter (arrogant and egoistic).

graphic-wise, like mentioned before the character design looks good waist up, anything after that seemed like they were put in last minute.

there are so many discrepancies that i could point on for the first 16 minutes of the movie. at 16 mintues+, arent space marines, by codex, always move tactically? i mean, even when i was in the army, we dont just stroll through open ground and all.. even in the novels they are depicted to be very very military competent.

even dawn of war 1&2 had better cut scenes. i'm not complaining, its really been every fan's dream to have a movie for the space marines, maybe they could improve, on quite a few parts.

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