This is the trailer to the RTS game Dawn of War, which came out in 2004. It’s a fantastic trailer to a fantastic game, which is the exception to the all the sweeping generalisations I’m about to make. If you want a benchmark for good visual depictions of the 40k universe, in all its desperate brutality, this is it; and if you’re going to make any other video interpretations of 40k, they had better look even better, because this was 2004.*
So, on an unrelated note, there’s a 40k movie in the works this year!
The announcement actually came out quite a while ago, and was met with scepticism from the 40k-liking people I hang with (ie: /tg/). Not that we didn’t want one, but we had no faith it could be any good. Games Workshop have a history of catastrophically mismanaging their IP; there’s been one genuinely, unreservedly good use of the 40k world in the last ten years (the aforementioned DOW1).
Not only is it sold to crappy no-account studios who make terrible games, but it’s totally mishandled: it makes its endless and at times very good universe look boring, limited and derivative of the very things it inspired. In a world which has a huge cast of rather well-developed factions, limitless reasons and hooks for plots and intrigue, and an absolute smorgasboard of dramatic WAR! tropes, damn near every single game decides to put you in the power-armoured boots of Brother-Captain Generic, leading your proud Marines of the Genericus Chapter to defend Generica Prime from the Orks of the feared Generik tribe/the apocalyptically evil Chaos Space Marines of the Cireneg Legion (to save on extra animations, they’re just your marines plus EVIL SPIKES.)
The last time they announced a movie, Bloodquest, was back when all-CG animation was a seriously new and revolutionary thing. They were running clips of in-progress animation on a screen in the GW Plaza store back when I lived in London, and I saw some nice little shots of a Land Raider driving around, but we have better graphics than that in handheld games nowadays. That folded; apparently they spent the entire budget on a space battle in the first five minutes. Then the fan film Damnatus, which was pretty good (with the important qualifier: for a fan film), they stamped out in a corporate copyright bitch-fit.
Most of what they’ve turned out is a stolid, unimaginative, play-it-safe attempt to milk the popularity of the Space Marines, which all 40k aficionados above the age of 12 (which is about half of us, I guess) are pretty tired of nowadays.
So it seemed to us that GW wouldn’t do anything good, and didn’t really deserve to. This was borne out somewhat by a devblog, which offered reasonably encouraging interviews mixed up with tidbits of truly pointless, masturbatory “concept art” (good goddamn, is there anyone connected remotely with 40k who doesn’t know what a bolt pistol looks like?), the news that the film would be obsessed (once again) with Space Marines, and, best of all, they’d be the Ultramarines, aka the vanilla-scented Genericus Chapter.
Then opinion reversed somewhat, as it emerged that the voice cast included such luminaries as Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Sean Pertwee (not exactly the A-list, but reasonably distinguished) and the script was to be by the deliciously capable Dan Abnett, the great white hope of 40k-related writing. It’s Dan Abnett, it’s an age where CG can do absolutely anything; how bad can it be?
Well, they recently posted this.
It’s not just me, right? John Hurt’s voiceover (which is like being drowned in rich wine) notwithstanding, this looks like wet arse.
* The DOW2 trailer, with its shrunken-headed wavy-haired Marines derping around clunkily against utterly gormless Eldar, is, like everything else about DOW2, an affront to its heritage.