Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ultramarines - Everyone's a Critic, take 2

I'm just getting underway with my new Dark Elf army and am very eager to start blabbing about it here. Before doing so however there are a few loose ends I feel I should take care of before getting too far lost into the world of Warhammer Fantasy. First off I realized that it will take some time until I have anything ready to paint for the Dark Elves so I'm leaving the rest of those Frog Fighters to finish over the coming days. I'll just work on them here and there when I have time to spare. No need to rush them after all and I'm rather excited to begin work on the new army.

Next up, I told Thor of Creative Twilight quite a while ago that I wanted to post a review of his list building tool, Command Center. I will still do a full review but it's too good of a resource for me to keep quiet about it any longer. Command Center is a free, online-based army list construction tool designed for use with Warhammer 40k. It's not meant to replace your Codex or do all the work of building a list for you, like Army Builder for example, as you must initially enter the relevant stats yourself. Rather it facilitates working with the saved information to help you adjust and refine your army lists, as well as allowing for easy access to your army rosters whenever online. Most gamers I know want to own a copy of their army's Codex anyways so why then shell out more bucks on something like AB when you can use Command Center for free? I like it a lot and recommend any 40k player give it a try.

Okay, last on my list tonight is the review of Ultramarines: A Warhammer blah blah blah that I promised a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure at this point most of you have seen enough reviews of the movie and could care less about hearing yet another opinion on it. I will therefore try to keep this brief.

Ultramarines is bad and disappointed me as a fan of the 40k background. The movie itself is a real stinker but I still enjoyed watching it. I agree with most of the catalogue of charges made against the film but all of the artistic and technical shortcomings were essentially what I expected. I'm a diehard MST3k fan and so cheesy, B-movie lameness never bothers me and is something I actually enjoy in the right context. On that level I thought Ultramarines was a lot of fun and could make for a very funny, albeit geeky, RiffTrax episode. And I thought there were indeed some genuinely cool scenes too, so it wasn't all bad really.

What truly disappointed me about the film is that it felt so very small and bland. WH40k has such a rich and evocative background, filled with heroes and villains larger than life doing tremendously momentous things. It's a galaxy replete with warfare, the battles of which are epic and can consume entire worlds. Ultramarines had none of this vast sense of scale and hence left me feeling uninspired and decidedly underwhelmed. The other problems with the movie are at least for me forgivable but as a 40k product what I did not like was the overall mundanity of its vision. There was hardly any of the awe-insprining size or craziness that distinguishes Warhammer 40,000 from other science fiction settings. I'm not positive but I think that's why I was ultimately so disappointed by this movie.

Alright, that's it for tonight. Sorry about flubbing this post and initially publishing it after only the first couple of sentences. Oh well, all part of the diceRolla way I suppose. I'm off to glue some elves together... cheers!


  1. I hear you with the review. I also enjoyed it to an extent but again I found myself decidedly underwhelmed by the low/grand scale of the story.

    It just felt like the budget dictated the whole plot all the way through. Pythol says 'we are just 12 men' when they learn a whole company has been wiped out and then at the end its 'I let them live so you would find me, it was a trapp mwu ha ha!'

    Or it was as case of there being 'no significant sites on this world (sand and more sand) except for this relic. What was a relic even doing there in the first place and why did they waste an entire company protecting it when the world was totally valueless in all other respects?! Answer...it gave them an excuse to not spend money landscaping the world. Luckily, chaos likes fog (oh and bale fire).

    sorry for the rant. In short I should have just said I agree and left it at that

  2. Hahaha! No need to apologize at all, that was hilarious. Your rant was more entertaining by far than anything I had to say, I really enjoyed that immensely. Seriously, feel free to rant away whenever you wish, that was great!

    I too have the feeling that there was only so much they could do because of the low budget. On that account I'm disappointed GW did not pony up the extra money it would have taken to make a higher quality film. I don't think they do themselves any good by having another company release a bad representation of their products. Maybe it's good for their bottom line but it's a shame that I don't even want to show this movie to friends as a way of promoting the hobby. I'd be embarrassed....

    At least we now know that Chaos is apparently dependent upon fog machines. If you're facing a daemonic incursion, just shoot the fog machines and everything will be okay. :)

    Thanks again, Musings of a Smurf, I really enjoyed hearing from you. That was so funny, thank you!

  3. I expected it to be a direct-to-video-classic (i.e. 'B' grade CGI flick). I would like to encourage GW so that they make something better, treating the Umarines movie as a proof-of-concept item.

    That said, I'm not paying $40 for a 'collector's addition', as it just strikes me as their typical shallow attempt to milk as much $$$ as possible out of as little as possible. I mean, its not a collector's edition, if its the ONLY edition. They imply that a 'regular' edition will be released, but they've also implied that CSM Legion codexes will be released too...

  4. I haven't seen it and I'll keep an open mind until I do. That said, I do feel the odds are rather against it my enjoying it, especially given the reviews, for or against. Ron Saikowski's wife has a good one by the way. Whatever I eventually come to think, your central point is one I hadn't considered, and the expectation of that kind of scope at least being hinted seems a fair one.

  5. MST3K: Ultramarines (The Movie) Now that will work...

    Tho I have not seen it all (just the snipits)

    What DE's do you have as I wanna paint a Sorceress for you.

  6. I couldn't agree more, the move was a total let down for me. I was actually fine with the graphics and animation, but was horribly let down by the story or lack there of.

    I was so happy I never bought the movie but watched a friends version instead, now I can use the money I save on minis :)

  7. A one shot bolter kill on a 3+ power armour save .... I dont think so some how.

    I wanna see a 40k movie based on the night lords books and audio.

    In Midnight Clad.

  8. @ Da Masta Cheef - I really do hope there was enough positive response generated by this movie as to encourage GW to make more movies, and hopefully invest some more $$ into them as well. If nothing else I thought it showed a lot of promise for what could be done in the future. That's hilarious about the lack of a "standard" edition, I didn't realize all they were offering at this point was the "collectors" edition. That's just silly. Oh well.... Thanks, Masta Cheef!

    @ Porky - Definitely go into it with an open mind, you might be surprised. I really don't want to dog the movie too much as I did enjoy some things about the movie, just not as a fan of the 40k universe. I'll have to check out the review by Mrs. Saikowski, that sounds interesting. My wife didn't pay too much attention to the movie but did say she thought it looked considerably better than she had expected it would. It's always a pleasure to hear from you Porky, thanks so much!

    @ Derina - Far out!!! Really? Wow, that would be awesome. I'm going post up a list of the Dark Elf models that I have so you can see what I'll be working with. Thank you, Derina, you rock!!

    @ Meatball - Yeah, the animation and whatnot didn't bother me and certainly shouldn't have come as to much of a surprise with all the preview clips that were released. I just think the story really did a disservice to the overall movie. It feels to me like GW does way too much hand-holding when it comes to their forays into media like this. I think sci-fi fans are generally pretty smart and can figure something out for themselves. If GW insists on dumbing things down, they're just going to make 40k itself dumb. Hmm, I'm glad I got that off my chest. :) Thank you very much, Meatball, it's great hearing from you!

    @ Derina, part 2 - Lol, no kidding! Apparently the marines in this movie have as much luck as I do when rolling for their armour saves. If that's the protection power armour offers, do people wearing flak armour just instantly die from putting on their gear? You could probably kill a Guardsmen with just a glance! I think the Night Lords would offer so much awesome potential for a movie, anti-heroes are so much fun! I guess for now all we can do is imagine and hope for the best. Thanks again, Derina!

  9. I haven't seen the movie for myself yet but I've read more than a few reviews and I have to say that yours was the only one that addressed all my worries. I had a feeling that they wouldn't be able to capture the vastness of 40k and it would just feel uninspired. Thanks for putting this review up. I wasn't sure what to do with my expectations after the other mixed reviews I've seen, but it seems we're on the same wavelength as far as what's important in a 40k movie so this helped me out quite a bit.

  10. Thanks so much, I'm really happy this was helpful for you. I'd still recommend judging it for yourself of course but yeah, it just didn't have that quality of vast hugeness that makes 40k so special and different from other settings. Even just a squad on a mission can seem like a big deal if the stakes are high but in this movie the whole point of it just seemed kinda ho-hum. To me at least that's not a good way to convey what the 40k universe is all about. Thank you again, Daemonetteboobs, I really appreciate it!

  11. I for one is happy they limited the scope of the movie simply because it would have been far worse otherwise. And I am not talking about the movie in your head but what is possible with the budget/medium combination. WH40k is gigantic, many books have been written, untold articles and quite a few codexes. Not to mention all the fans. I simply don't believe a single movie could portray the world.

    Look at how limited even great movies are when it comes to story and background even LoTR the movie is pretty sparse. So I can understand that a lot of people feel the movie lacks. We all have things we wanted to see in there to be honest. I just hope they make more.

    When I think about it, a good 40k movie could have been about the road from being chosen to train to be a Space Marine to becoming a scout.

  12. Great to hear from you on this, Flekkzo! You make a really good point about us naysayers comparing the actual movie we have in hand to our imaginary, idealized movie that doesn't even exist. With this being the first Warhammer movie, however, I think it's understandable for us to consider whether or not it lived up to the potential offered by such an amazing and cherished background. Maybe it works okay for an audience not already versed in 40k but I think that's the wrong target group to focus on with such a niche product.

    So yes, I would have liked a bigger scope and more of 40k's signature weirdness but you're probably right. If the budget or technical ability simply wasn't there, it likely would have been worse had they aimed for anything more grandiose. And I'm not a computer gamer so I at least haven't been spoiled by DoW graphics either. Nonetheless even with the constraints of necessity in place I do not think this was a good representation of Warhammer 40,000.

    We are certainly in agreement with our hopes that this will not be the only 40k movie that gets made. There was for sure more than enough in Ultramarines to make me eager for another to come out. This might not be the 40k movie I've waited for since falling in love with the game, but it also did not discourage me from my dreams for more Games Workshop movies. I think we're all hoping Ultramarines is successful enough as to justify investing even more in this type of media.

    Thanks again for sharing your perspective with me Flekkzo. I really appreciate it and enjoyed reconsidering my own views in light of your experience of the film. Thank you, buddy!!

  13. @papajj you should see the movie in my head, it is insanely cool, far better than all of the black library books combined. Thing is, the second it leaves my head it stops being awesome :)

    I feel that a series would be a far better vehicle for something like 40k. Look at Star Trek the series vs Star Trek the movie(s). A series has a completely different dynamic and the chance to build things up. And there has been some pretty impressive shows coming out of HBO / Showtime.

    Always happy to give my view on things :)

  14. Definitely! A series would be incredible and probably a much more suitable format too. How great would that be?!? Alright, add that to the wish list as well. Thanks again, Flekkzo!

  15. Guess I missed this post.

    I'll watch the movie at some point, I'm in no rush. At this point I know full well what to expect.

    Thanks for the plug for Command Center too. I'm in the process of rewriting the entire thing, v2.0. Lots of changes but most notable will be that the rewrite will allow me to 'plug' in other games with relative ease, IE: WHFB, Necromunda, etc.

  16. No problem, Thor, I'm more than happy to help promote Command Center. It's been a really helpful resource for me and I'm thankful you put in so much effort to making it available to the community. I'm excited to hear that you're now working on v2.0, being able to use CC for other game systems in addition to 40k will be great! You're very generous to devote so much time and energy into this project for the benefit of us gamers, it's very good of you.

    After I got past all the busy part of the holidays I started working on the review of CC that I said I would write. My hold up now is that I went to print out some copies of army lists I had made and learned that my printer no longer works. I thought it would be nice to show some printed examples of army lists so that it would be seen how complete and functional they are to use. I hope to get this taken care of as soon as I can but if I have to I'll just go to a photocopy store to get some lists printed out. I'm sorry this has been delayed for so long, I just really want to do CC justice.

    Thanks again for making such an awesome resource available, Thor! I'm really looking forward to trying out the next version now that I'm focusing my attention on WHFB. Thank you and best wishes!

  17. Speaking of, I may need to use you as a resource for WHFB. I know the games are similar, 40K and WHFB, when it comes to rosters but I know there are differences too and being that I don't play WHFB, well I've got no point of reference.

  18. I'm happy to help anyway I can. Feel free to email me about any questions or anything else that might come up as I'm eager to help. Thanks again, Thor, I think it's really cool what you're doing. :)