Review: Ultramarines – A Warhammer 40,000 Movie / Cert: 15 / Director: Martyn Pick / Screenplay: Dan Abnett / Starring: Terence Stamp, John Hurt, Sean Pertwee / Release Date: Out Now
Tip: if you're going to go around acting like a gruff, tough Andy McNab of the future, you may want to first check that you're not wearing bright blue and yellow body armour. It doesn't matter how much glass you've been gargling – nobody is going to take you seriously, dressed like that. They should have gone with the Black Templars instead.
Based on the incredibly popular tabletop strategy game, Ultramarines is a movie made, unashamedly, for the fans. While more casual sci-fi and animation fans won't find it at all difficult to get into (the handy thing about Warhammer is how unapologetically plotless it is) the film doesn't even attempt to provide anything of interest for non-gamers. The thrills are in seeing the 'characters' and their vehicles blow things up in a way that tabletop gaming could never hope to. But, as with the recent Space Marine video game, it gets very old, very fast.
“If I get there first, there will be no blood left for you to spill,” brags one ridiculously named Space Marine to another. The whole script is like this, veering between daft machismo and even dafter faux-religious waffle. The likes of Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee, John Hurt and Johnny Harris are great actors, but having the lot of them share whole scenes together (with Hurt doing occasional narration) does none of them any favours. Not even Pertwee can save a line such as “There was no valour in this end.” Dude – you look like a Lex Luthor battle suit after going ten rounds with the Pimp My Ride crew. Lighten up. The film sounds like it was recorded down your local Working Man's Club, back in the days when they were allowed to smoke there (and before women were allowed – there's not a single female voice in the whole film). The animation is even worse, looking like a cartoon you'd have seen airing on Channel 5 in the early '00s (like the Dan Dare or Captain Scarlet reboots, maybe).
Fans of the game should find a little more to appreciate in Ultramarines. Maybe add an extra star or two if you like that sort of thing. But even they deserved better. It does neither Warhammer nor its fans any favours. It's not awful though (there are some decent battle sequences), merely thoroughly mediocre. Coasting on the idea that fans will buy anything related to the brand, it feels lazy and cynical. Better luck next turn, guys.