Sunday, January 15, 2012

ULTRAMARINES: Well, it coulda been Dragonlance

Ultramarine? Your mom is an Ultramarine!
"My mother is an Imperial Fist. Dick."

Last night my girlfriend and I watched Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,00 Movie. Now, I've seen it before. I liked it before about as much as I liked it again: "Meh" comes to mind. And truth be told, I hate it when people "meh" things. Have a fucking opinion or don't, but don't be all like "meh".

Well, I do have an opinion, and aside from whining on Facebook once or twice, I don't think I've said anything on this subject as of yet.

What exactly is Ultramarines? Here, read the synopsis. My lazy ass will not be bothered to write it out for you. I'll wait.

zzzzZZZZZ--huh??? Oh, uh, welcome back!

Now if you plan on seeing it before you're tainted by opinions and such, I recommend the stopping of the readings of this entry right now and go watch the film. Then come back and decide if you think I taste like taint or not. Go. Now.

As for the rest of you... (or you who has come back-- welcome back, again, blah blah etc)

Tasting taint-- in Ultramarines, you totally can according to the Apothecary.

My girlfriend knows nothing about Warhammer 40k and so while she felt some scenes were cool and neat-o, nothing really grabbed her. Also, the animation was jerky, bland and bothersome. Sadly, I have to completely agree. There were moments of "FETH YEAH!", but they were few and far between. If you've had no experience with Warhammer 40,000, then you are better off not watching Ultramarines, as it will leave you confused... and stuck listening to the hyper-jabber of some mouth-fapping rabid fanboy.

For the record: I'd like to say "I'm sorry" to my girlfriend.

It has good voice acting and some decent action sequences, but overall it feels shallow and hollow. I have a feeling the script, penned by The Mighty Dan Abnett, was probably stronger-- or was intended to be better-- before we see what we, well, saw. I don't expect award-winning storytelling, mind, just action pulp with a rollicking good shoot 'em up, decapitations and whirring blades of death & dismemberment and such.

Ultramarines at least has the death and dismemberment down.

Get some.

In a nutshell, the story is thus (Spoilers! for you whiners out there):

-Young Marines go on first combat mission (weren't they Scouts for years first??).
-Said Marines are led by a kick-ass Captain and have a grizzled vet as an Apothecary.
- An "Apothecary" is a medic guy who patches up the wounded and collects a fallen Marine's gene seed.
- No, "gene seed" is not a euphemism.
-They go someplace.
-Someplace where other Marines have been slaughtered.
-Chaos Space Marines fresh from the Chaos Space Marine Factory show up.
-Stuff happens. Boom bang biff pow. Captain dies.
-Also: Violence.
-They try to get back with the MacGuffin they found.
-Big fight happens. Action. Dead Captain shows up to hand out asses like candy corn.
-Surprise! More violence.
-Surviving Marines go back to Homebaseshipplace.
-Surprise! Captain turns out to be the daemon.
-Did I mention the daemon?
-Oh, and have I mentioned Brits spell "demon" as "daemon"?
-But it's pronounced "dee-mon". Go fig.
-You don't see it coming, but lots of more violence stuff happens.
-Daemon Captain is defeated by Sean Pertwee voiced protagonist...
-...With a special-- wait--just--wait--WARHAMMER, foreshadowed earlier.
-Everyone has a good laugh, snorts coke off hookers' tits and enjoys a donkey show*.
-Full circle-- new Marines are sworn in by the two surviving protagonists.
-Surprise! They swear on a WARHAMMER.

(*I may or may not be making this part up.)

Aside from a metric sump-ton of what I perceived to be oversights, errors, and blatant plot-problems (e.g: Why does an entire company of Imperial Fists defend a Shrine World; and just them? Aren't there only 1000 Imperial Fists anywhere to begin with? Can someone help me with this one??), I was also left feeling sad that there's no sense of scale. The Adeptus Astartes-- Space Marines to you non-geeks-- stand, on average, 8 feet tall (and taller), are enormous ass-beating Angels of Death and Dooooom, but we have no sense of scale since they seem to be the only dudes we see. I suppose we also see some tech-servitor dudes, too, but they don't count. Some Guardsmen, say, on the Shrine World, would have been perfect for scale purposes. I will hand it to the production crew for coming up with clever ways to illustrate the heavy power armour and just how nimble Battle Brothers (Space Marines) are when they're wearing it.

Scale Fail here? Nope. That's a BIG ship, man.

Girlfriend just pointed out "And didn't they die rather easily? Like TOO easily?"

The simple answer for her is: Yes.

Ultramarines does have a very important thing going for it: It's not Dragonlance.

Let me explain.

Dragonlance was one of the worst animated disasters of several lifetimes. Like Ultramarines, it was one of those animated features with cool celebrity voices you got excited to see. You didn't care if it looked like it was going to be a G.I. JOE cartoon from the 80's, by the looks of it. You don't care that Lucy Lawless and Kiefer Sutherland were probably going to semaphore it in, not really giving a shit.

Well. I will say the actors actually did a good job on Dragonlance-- with what they had to work with.

What resulted was something too horrible to ever talk about, but I'm sure I'll suck it up at some point and do a write up on Dragonlance, anyway. To put it as eloquently as possible: Dragonlance sucked so bad that a crack team of physicists were assigned to repairing the damage to our universe that it caused. In other words, it sucked and instantly became the windowless white van of animated adaptations where beloved properties are concerned.

It made the Dungeons & Dragons movie look like Children of Men.

Pictured: Better than Dragonlance.

Anyways, enough about that steaming pile of shit. I suppose it's my special way of saying "Ultramarines is pretty terribad, but it's not a steaming pile of shit, and you can watch it a second time without ever feeling the need to kill yourself or your loved ones."

As a hardcore Warhammer (40k and Fantasy) fan since 1987, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. Does that mean I didn't buy it on DVD? No. In fact, here, order it. Have some fun with it. But only get it if you're okay with it being worse than any Black Library book you've ever read.

I happily bought the Mutant Chronicles film. I may have a problem. What? WHAT? There's a 2-disc collector's edition???? Yes, I will buy this, no doubt.

Whoops! Getting really sidetracked here... So, yeah, Ultramarines also offers some excellent voice work all around, and includes epic-awesome talent like Terrance Stamp, John Hurt and Sean Pertwee. In a nutshell, if the animation and story had been tighter, I would have wet myself in complete satisfaction. However, when the opening cutscenes from the Dawn of War videogame kick your rump where action animation is concerned... well... um... yeah.

But I judge harshly. I still would like to thank the cast and crew of Ultramarines for finally putting a Warhammer 40k feature out.

I just wish I wasn't so put out by it.

Kneel before Severus.

(Images pulled from the Ultramarines movie website*. Give it a visit! Nice site.)
(*Except the BloodRayne one, which is yoinked from Wikipedia.)


Lethality: Six players showed up to play today and only one watched their Halfling acrobat die horribly. The rest of the group had some close calls, and the snooty High Elf lost an ear and part of his upper lip. All told, they still made out like drunken bandits. The DM is fuming and plotting something involving man-eating, intelligent falling rocks to unleash on the party next game session.


Questions? Comments? Rotten fruit or suggestions or suggestions for rotten fruit? Then drop me a line and such. Don't be shy... No, really, I'm starting to really creep my girlfriend out and she's-- she's looking right at me, isn't she... poop.


Kelvin Green said...

However, when the opening cutscenes from the Dawn of War videogame kick your rump where action animation is concerned... well... um... yeah.

In fairness, the Old Republic trailers were miles better than any of the actual Star Wars films, so it happens.

Steve Saunders said...


Now I want to see the Old Republic trailers.