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Ultramarines: Warhammer Blu-ray Review

6 min read

A group of new Ultramarines are sent to find out what’s happening on a world that has gone quiet.

What They Say:
In the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium the only force that stands between humanity and alien hordes are the genetically enhanced super-soldiers known as Ultramarines. But when a select squad of scarred veterans and raw recruits responds to a distant planet’s distress beacon they’ll discover that a horrific evil has been unleashed. And amidst a living nightmare of chaos carnage and daemonic fury these steel battle-brothers must now survive the ultimate enemy: Themselves. The voices of Terence Stamp (SUPERMAN II WANTED) John Hurt (ALIEN HELLBOY) and Sean Pertwee (DOG SOLDIERS EVENT HORIZON) star in this intense CGI animated sci-fi/action thriller and the first-ever feature-length movie interpretation of the Warhammer 40000 game universe.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My time in the Warhammer 40K universe was quite long, many years ago, back when the lead figurines first hit North American shores. With a few friends, we had stacks and stacks of marines, orcs, daemons, general infranty and so, so much more. Hours upon hours spent playing on a massive tabletop and just enjoying the hell out of it. But as time goes on and hobbies change, I sadly left this universe behind, but held onto some really great memories of it. I loved played the Space Marine chapter that I had and filled it with all sorts of troops and vehicles to do battle. But, I was never an Ultramarines fan, so i’ll admit going into the film here with a little built in prejudice from that part.

The WH40K universe is one that raelly needs to be mined in a big way as it’s great action material against impossible foes in epic settings that should translate well on so many levels, be it animation or live action. This movie, made under license from Games Workshop with a script by Dan Abnett, gives us a tale of the Ultramarines, the best of the best as they put it in the start. It was originally released in the UK back in 2010 but never made it over here until 2013, so the gaphics are a touch out of date already, though you can see why so many decry it as just cut scene material. That unfortunately brings back memories of early 2000’s cut scenes when you talk about that, at least for me, and that’s not what we get here. But there is a lack of proper depth with some of this in its animation that impacts it, such as when they walk along the halls in the armor and there’s no perceptible sound and even visually it often looks like they’re almost floating on top of it.

The tale for this feature brings us a new group of Ultramarines going on their first mission to the planet of Mithron. A real backwater of a planet where there’s nothing left there of merit besides one location where another group of Ultramarines were stationed but has had nothing heard from besides the automated signal. With the place essentially having gone quiet, and no other experienced forces in the area that can do it, we get this newer group. But even though they’re new at being Ultramarines, they have some skill and experience to them but are just eager to prove themselves in this arena in order to serve their Chapter and the Emperor as well. There’s a lot of the familiar kind of banter that you get from men in this situation as well as a familiar kind of dusty, dark and barren world that they set themselves on in order to do the job.

Not surprisingly, once they do get planetside and make their way towards their destination across the dusty and cloudy landscape, there are things movign about that are stalking them and making everyone nervous. And leaving you wondering why they don’t land closer the first time out anyway considering the distance that they have to cover. The film moves along in a lot of ways like a fairly standard Starship Troopers kind of mode of discovery as they find out more of what’s going on,w hat happened to the group that was supposed to be there before them defending the shrine and dealing with the enemy. That it’s a group of Chaos Space Marines allows the show to go a bit bloodier and more violent in a way as we get some decent Black Legion action on our hands.

The Ultramarines doesn’t go into a lot of detail about things, and is in the end fairly interchangeable with any number of other movies that do similar things as this. The feature does bring in some of the specific elements of the mythos, which is good, since we have the importance of the banner, the gene seed comes into play and there’s some welcome material for the chaplain as well that makes him useful throughout, even if he does come across badly because of his position. But I also liked getting some time with the Chaos Marines as the daemons were always a lot of fun in how they can be portrayed and the violent lust that they have for their mission. But in the end, it is all largely by the numbers and while the drapings help, it doesn’t become something that you find yourself wanting to find out about the game afterwards if you’re new to it, and I can imagine the hardcore fans not caring much for this.

The feature comes with a few extras from the creators, Codex Pictures, including a thirty minute making of piece that shows what went into making it and the approach they took producing it, which definitely shows that a lot of love went into the project and the way they wanted to make the fans happy. We get a five minute bit that goes into the world of the game itself which is decent and a short two minute piece about how they created the daemon for it. And for those that want to go deeper into everything, there’s a twelve minute animated piece of the prequel graphic novel as well that’s available.

In Summary:
While it’s been an age since I last saw anything within the Warhammer 40K universe, I have to admit I liked this on some basic level since it just brought back all the nostalgia for me of the game that I’ve been away from for too long. But the production itself is pretty low budget in its feeling and look, to basic in its script with nothing to really stand out and show the scale and epicness of the universe that it inhabits. When it starts to show a few nods towards it, and the type of violence that it can employ, it’s just too late to really have much meaning. This universe is ripe for some real mining to make some amazing works, but this isn’t one of them. While I would have been all over this if it came out ten or fifteen years ago and it would have looked amazing, right now it’s just something that passes the time, which is not what the WH40K universe deserves.

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles,

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Starz / Anchor Bay
Release Date:March 5th, 2013
MSRP: $24.95
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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