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ULTRAMARINES: A WARHAMMER 40,000 MOVIE (2010)

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ULTRAMARINES: A WARHAMMER 40,000 MOVIE (2010)

Friday, 02 August 2013 12:00

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The Buzz:

        This computer-animated sci-fi film brings us into the world of the 41st millennium, based on the immensely popular Warhammer 40K game world created by Games Workshop. A detachment of space marines, gene-engineered super-soldiers (before you groan, these were pretty much the original such sci-fi staple, and most of the other examples you may know take their inspiration from this universe) from the Ultramarines chapter are sent on a mission to answer a distress beacon from a shrine-world guarded by their brothers-in-arms, the Imperial Fists.

 

Life of the Party:

        Ultramarines is a film for the fans. It's for people who play the table-top game, read the novels and codices, and have dove into the rich sci-fi/fantasy realm that is the Warhammer 40K universe. The idea of a Warhammer film had been bouncing around the internet for a while, and was a common topic at game stores between the players. And someone finally went it did it in about the only format I could ever see it working (at least at this budget and production level): computer animation.

        And the animation is good. Apparently the animators went for a gritty comic-book feel that, in my mind, really captures the atmosphere of this bleak, hopeless future that is the 41st Millennium. While maybe not the smoothest or most pristine animation I've ever seen, it's by no means hokey or ill-conceived.

        Overall the film is a solid piece of fan-cinema. Hard-core animation fans are probably better served elsewhere, and non-Warhammer fans will be completely lost; however if like myself you have invested a lot of time and energy into learning this universe and lore (I've been playing since 3rd edition came out, which will mean at least a little something to some readers), Ultramarines is the film that you and your gaming buddies have talked about over the tabletop and the piles of dice.

Despite being the most badass-looking character in the film, he plays a VERY small role...

Potential Hangovers:

        If I had to pick one major weakness, it's that this film is very non-accessible to the non-fan. There's no back story, no setup, and zero explanation about this universe, or who these characters are, or why the viewer should care. Fans of the universe will already know all of these things, but someone who's never played Warhammer 40K will have no clue about why anything is happening the way it is (hell, the old PS2 game Firewarrior had more back story and setup than this, and that really says something...).

        Also I have never approved of the voice-acting for the Space Marines in any incarnation of this universe. I know this is getting much too deep for the average reader, but it's a film for the fans, and so I'm writing this paragraph for the fans. In all of the novels and stories in this universe, by-and-large the Space Marines are described as forthright, and often brutally honest and harsh in their interactions. And yet in every instance where the Marines are given real voices, they've always been given these stereotypical "epic" forms of speech (if you don't know what I'm talking about, imagine the voice you imagine a Dungeon Master might use to describe his latest scene in his Dungeons & Dragons campaign...), which I have just never really been able to buy into.

        Not to say however that the voice-cast for this film is at all lacking. You have the talents of Terence Stamp, John Hurt, and Sean Pertwee on this film, and it shows. But the film in general seems pretty cliché and predictable (which is surprising, considering the screenplay is by Dan Abnett, who any fan of the universe knows is one of the best writers and story tellers when it comes to Warhammer 40K), which really takes away a lot of what could be appreciated by the efforts put on by the cast and crew.

 

While it's good, I wish the animation could have been THIS level of awesome

The Vibe: Casual Gathering, Lazy Afternoon, Solo Experience

        Ultramarines is best served amongst a group of friends who all play the game together, and are looking to kill some time away from the army lists and damage tables. Alternatively, it can be enjoyed alone whilst killing some time. If you know nothing about the Warhammer 40K universe I really can't recommend watching this film, as you'll have no idea what is happening, or why you should care at all. If you do watch it, I suggest the following rules to make it even more enjoyable:

 

Drinking Game Rules:

+ Every time someone screams

+ Every time someone says "Know No Fear"

+ Every time someone mentions Chaos (or some aspect thereof)

+ Every time an Ultramarine dies, take a shot in their memory

For drink ideas, Dakka Dakka has a list of Warhammer 40K inspired drinks (personally I'm a fan of the "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH").

Dakka Dakka: 40K Shots - Get Drunk to a Theme

 

Plus/Minus:

+ A film for the fans

+ Executed well technically

- Inaccessible to the non-fan

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About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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