So, this morning, I was fortunate enough to be one of a select few to be invited to a proper cinema screening of the new Ultramarines movie. Investors, fans and hobbyists, piled into the Odeon Cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue and, after an introduction by producer Bob Thompson, got to enjoy 75 minutes of pure 40K entertainment. I tagged along with m'colleague James Swallow, who is always good company, and also got to say "Hi!" to Mark and Liz of My Favourite Books.
But what of the movie itself? That's what you're all dying to know, isn't it? Well, first off, Codex Pictures have succeeded in making a Warhammer 40K movie, which in and of itself is no mean feat. It's been a labour of love for those involved, as much as anything else, and it shows.
To put it simply Ultramarines does exactly what it says on the tin. There are space marines - more than mortal, they are steel and they are doom - there's an alien world and a gothic Imperial shrine, there's a strike cruiser, a thunderhawk, a land speeder... and there's Chaos.
I would love to got into more details, but it would undoubtedly spoil the movie for anyone yet to see it for themselves. And if you've ever been even slightly curious about Warhammer 40K then you really should see it. Suffice to say the devil (or should that be the 'daemon'?) is in the detail. From words of holy scripture engraved onto bolter shells, to "how do you apply purity seals exactly?", to the etchings of Chaplain Karnak's shull-helm, to the image of the stained glass window in the reliquary on board the Ultramarines' strike cruiser, it's all there.
Dan Abnett's voice is as distinctive throughout the movie as the voices of actors Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee, John Hurt et al who speak his words. Dan's even managed to get a few (intentionally) humorous lines in there. One in particular (regarding a bolter) raised a chuckle from the whole audience this morning.
It felt like a real privilege to see the movie on the big screen but it was also a joy to chat with Bob Thompson and Vanessa Chapman of Codex Pictures afterwards. These are people who are passionate about what they do and about doing justice to the IP. It's just a shame Codex Pictures weren't around when the made the original Judge Dredd movie. They have managed to make a film that doesn't mess with, or dumb down, the Warhammer 40K IP, and one that can be enjoyed by a 25 year hobby veteran and a total novice alike.
If you've already ordered the special edition collector's DVD you're in for a treat. If you haven't you can order it here, right now. And do order it, because if Ultramarines is a hit us fans might not have to wait quite so long for another 40K movie to come along...
"We march for Macragge!"
"And we shall know no fear!"
To finish, as they say, with a joke... The auditorium that was hosting the exclusive screening was next to the loos. So, reading the signs above the doors from left to right we had, 'Ladies', 'Gents' and 'Ultramarines'. Well, it made Jim and I chuckle.