However, to say Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 has a large following would be quite the understatement. Despite the huge following, Ultramarines is the first time this world has been portrayed in a movie. Die-hard fans of Warhammer 40k will want to see Ultramarines, based on this alone; even if the movie wasn't so hot, since it's the only one of its kind.
However, the movie is actually pretty well done. The visuals are a combination of pure animation, performance capture and video with heavy post production, providing a surreal appearance with very realistic details. You can get a feel for the style in the trailer, below:
Some imagine the Space Marines are all identical and, while they are a genetically-enhanced military force meant to save humanity, there must be some shred of individuality - their own humanity - that remains. The actors do a great job of portraying this individuality, while maintaining a certain amount of uniformity. The voices were very well done, with great actors, including: Terence Stamp, John Hurt, Sean Pertwee, Steve Waddington, Donald Sumpter, Johnny Harris, Ben Bishop, Christopher Finney and Gary Martin.
Ultramarines focuses on a company of some of the most elite of the most elite as they face a threat of Chaos which could turn the tide of the war - permanently. In an end-is-the-beginning-is-the-end motif, the movie is framed by the graduation ceremony of Ultramarines on board their amazing stone spaceship that serves as their mobile base of operations and displaying their company's relic, a warhammer that has been used throughout the ages by the best of the best and remains in their protection, awaiting a dark time of need, when it shall be put into service again.
Our heroes are freshly augmented Space Marines, after being selected to replace a company of Ultramarines who had recently fallen in battle. Their first call of duty is to check out a distress call from a planet where an important relic was guarded and protected by another company of Space Marines. They have no idea what to expect, as there is no further communication other than the distress signal, which could simply have been put on repeat. This mission turns out to be a difficult one, indeed, when they discover a horde of Space Marines tainted by the Chaos. With the fate of humanity at stake, failure is not an option, but none of them could have expected just how great a price they'd pay.
If you are a fan of Warhammer 40,000, you should pick up the Blu-ray edition of Ultramarines; the visuals look great with high definition quality and there are several features that fans could appreciate, including some behind-the-scenes making-of sort of stuff, as well as an animated backstory piece that shows the conditions that lead to our heroes becoming Ultramarines. The Creating the Daemon featurette is also interesting, if you're into sound design or 3D animation.
Ultramarines has a nice visual style, excellent voicework, great fight scenes, lots of action and a few twists here and there. As I said, I'm not up to speed on the back story of the Space Marines, and I thought it was pretty good.