The Lord Inquisitor: A 40K Spoiler-Free Review

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The 40K film is imminent.  A vision realized.   A new journey begins.

Greetings Fellow Wargamers:

Caleb with White Metal Games here,  and I had the great pleasure of being allowed to view The Lord Inquisitor a few weeks before it’s general release.  I was invited by the development team to share my impressions with the wider population of wargamers.

Part of the reason for this Golden Ticket was that a concept artist on the project came to work under the White Metal Games banner in early 2016.  Before this, I knew exactly as much as you knew did or do about the Lord Inquisitor, which was not much.  This project has been veiled in a layer of secrecy that even the Inquisition would have a hard time discerning.

What follows is a spoiler free review and analysis of the project.  For those that have not yet seen the project, I would encourage you to wait to read this review until afterwards, so as to not allow my personal sentiments to color your opinion one way or the other.

Before we even get into the project, I want to say that like any project this long in the making, expectations are high.  So high in fact that I would argue that no presentation, no matter how great, will please every viewer.  In this day media is churned through at an alarming rate.  Viewers devour content like never before, and they think little about how much hard work goes into the creation of that content.  In this case a select few indiviauls gave over years of their life to a project which, frankly, doesn’t cost me a dime to watch and enjoy.  So my expectations should be limited to ‘did I enjoy this free video’.  And  I absolutely did.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

So my initial feeling about the project after watching the prologue is it’s a beautifully made fan film with incredible scope and design.  As a ‘prologue’ it shows great promise for the future.  Ultimately it can’t live up to the expectations I have been heaping on it for 6 years.  And perhaps I only have myself to blame for that.

THE INSIDE SCOOP:

From what I have gathered speaking with a concept designer on the project, half way into the project the team was cut in half.  On projects like this where there is no compensation for the hard work put in and little to no budget, it’s not uncommon to see team members come and go as families move, jobs come up and frankly, life happens.
In the early days of the project, I heard that the project was going to be 30 minutes long, and from the trailer it certainly SEEMED like it was part of a much bigger story.  So now, after 6 years of waiting, hopefully, expectantly, I’m left feeling like a lot was left out.  In the initial concepts and trailer there were daemons and baneblades and ships crashing into an urban world and the list just went on and on!  Now I’m left wondering where is all that?
But try to put it in context.  Technology is evolving around you.  Your teams is cut in half, less than halfway into the project. You’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity by one of the leading gaming companies in the world.  But you are working for free and the entire world is watching. . . .  what do you do?  Do you quit?  Or do you press on and make the best darned project you can with the time and resources at your disposal.  Well, I don’t know what you would do, but what Erasmus and his team did was PRESS ON!!!!
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Now from a filmmaking perspective I get that.  Lot of times when new technology comes around, Filmmakers are eager to try out new tech and gadgets and see how it can be utilized in a cinematic environment.  Bullet-time anyone?
In fact, at the front of the project there is a giant title card that read thusly:
” I created this . . .  for both showing my passion for Warhammer and for digital art.”  
So there it is.  It was a passion project.  From the very beginning, this trailer was always called an ‘animation’.  Not a feature film.   So I have to think now, years later, part of the fault lies with me not understanding what the project was intended to be.
As the owner of a miniature commission service, a big part of my job is managing client expectations.  Clients on a limited budget or timetable should expect a limited project.  But like any good doctor, bedside manner is important.  It’s as much about how your deliver news as what the news is.  In this case, I think the only real problem I saw in the project was that my expectations weren’t managed effectively.  Prepare me for the fact that I’m not going to get everything I think I deserve.
Look I wasn’t expecting Game of Thrones after 6 years, but to be honest I was expecting more than 9 minutes.  I know the video is called ‘prologue’ but it wasn’t always called Prologue. I think that the term ‘prologue’ came late in the development process.    In the early days, the expectations for the project ran high.  And why shouldn’t they have?  We encourage our children to shoot for the stars.  In this case I think the design team aimed for the stars and still managed to grab the moon.
Much like Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, unable to rest but slowly being crushed under the weight, Erasmus and his team were left with an impossible task and little to no resources to accomplish their original goals.  So they settled on giving us the first part of a much grander story rather than no story at all.  So promises made in the original animations weren’t broken so much as delayed.
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ENDORSEMENT IS NOT THE SAME THING AS SUPPORT:

As we all know, GW endorsed this project.  Now that’s not the same thing as supporting the project.  Ask any freelance filmmaker how hard it is to get financing on a film and you’ll understand what I mean here.  Essentially GW agreed to allow Erasmus to engage in this project without threat of litigation.  In essence they gave him the green light for the FIRST OFFICIAL FAN FILM IN GW HISTORY!
They did not, as some may believe, participate in the project nor did they offer financial support.  What they did give Erasmus was an immediate and enormous fanbase, plus a galaxy sized sand box to spin his yarn and I would argue in many ways that IS support.  However, they weren’t allowed to benefit financially from the project.  Of course, that would be copyright infringment.  So you are tasked with finding passionate, talented people, willing to work on a project across the world, long term for free.  Under those conditions, how do you think you would have faired given the same?
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HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?   . .  TIME WILL TELL

What Erasmus has done has pioneered the way for others to follow in his footsteps and like anyone crashing through a glass ceiling, he’s bound to get cut up (ie, judged) in the process.   So Erasmus, before the haters and trolls do their worst, I’d like to just say thank you for leading the way.  Thank you for blazing the trail that others may follow.

What this tells me is that GW is not against fan made fiction IF it matches their standards of excellence.   I think we can all agree that GW produces a high quality product and they demand the same from those who represent them in any way.  In this case, while the film is in no way official, it does in a way represent the Grim Darkness of the Far Future and all that entails.  So indirectly they are saying ‘if the quality is high enough, we’ll let you have your fun.  Just don’t take money out of our pockets.’  Which is, in my opinion a fair trade.

Look, we’re fans and as fans we WANT to participate in the world these stories exist in.  I’ve seen some good fan films and some bad ones, but in every case the passion is what drives the project.  And this project has plenty of that.

Will GW allow other fan films to be made in the post Lord Inquisitor era?  Only time will tell, but my hopes are high.  In fact, from what I’ve heard the Prologue hype has renewed interest in the project and now the development team is actively seeking help on the project to keep momentum going.   With your support, the support of the fans, this dream can not only stay alive, it can thrive.  But it relies on the support of you, the fans, to see that happen.

So if you love the project and have high hopes for it moving forward, say so!  Let the team know how much you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the project and tell them YOU WANT MORE!!!!

If this is JUST THE PROLOGUE’ then I can’t WAIT to see the rest!!!

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ALL YOU HATERS!!!!  

I feel your frustration.  I really do.  After 6 years, my assumption would be the project is done, right?  WHERE THE HELL IS THE MOVIE YOU PROMISED ME!!!

Okay, do you feel better?  Let’s call a spade a spade, gents.  Is the film/animation/prologue (whatever you want to call it!) everything we hoped it would be?  No. While there was never a promise of what the film would be, I think we can safely say this isn’t it.  There are the inklings of a story, but from a narrative standpoint it doesn’t so much fail as never get going.

But rather than let that negativity drain us, let’s channel that energy it into KEEPING THIS PROJECT GOING!   The door is still open, our foot is in the doorjamb!  Don’t quit now!  Do as Erasmus did.  Press on, press on!

~And maybe, just maybe Lord Inquisitor Part 2 will be in our futures very soon.

Respectfully,

Caleb Dillon

White Metal Games

 

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  • shiwan

    Well, the face of d-baggery is most certainly perfectly modeled there.

    • euansmith

      It is a wonderfully slappable face.

    • petrow84

      This look is Top Heresy Reason #5.

      • shiwan

        Right after actual d-baggery.

    • Deez

      I would imagine d-baggery is a pre-requisite for becoming an Inquisitor. If all the Inquisitors were like Butters from South Park, the universe would be chock full of Heresy.

    • ChubToad

      Inquisitor be like:”Killed your entire family for heresy. Problem? “

    • JP

      Actually kinda makes me think of a cocky n00b jarhead that hasn’t gotten belted upside the head by reality yet.

      • shiwan

        Exactly d-baggery.

  • Grafton Is Dust

    You recommend that we wait to see the video before we can read the review…but the video isn’t available out for another two days.

    Why didn’t you hold off posting this up ’til the day it lands, (the 28th?)

    • BrianDavion

      cause like any other media org BOLS is despiratye for scoops.

  • Distracted Satrap

    You talk about it as if this was Erasmus’ project done and dusted, but I’ve always seen him talk about the prologue as a literal prologue?

    Post from Facebook 3 November 2015: ‘…April 2016 will be the release date for the Prologue, meaning roughly the first 4 minutes of the movie. One Year later follows the complete film which will be around 20min in runtime’

    Post from Facebook 24 August 2016: ‘5 days until we all can watch the first 9 minutes of The Lord Inquisitor. The Prologue will be available on Youtube completely for free.’

    Has something changed? Because I mean, even the website displays a final release date in 2017.

  • euansmith

    This does look the business.

    • Lewismauler

      All the guys who worked on this are professional animators who dedicated their spare time to this project. This is why it has taken years because they do this for a living and their work that sustains them and their families forms first.

      • euansmith

        Cool. They really are fantastic.

  • Andy Wise

    I appreciate that you wanted to keep this spoiler free but if you call something a review it really should talk about the film to some extent. The article came off as more of an excuse for the film rather than actually saying anything about it.

    This does the film a disservice, not matter what its quality which is a bit of a dropped ball given that you were given early access.

    As far as I’m concerned it’s free, it’s been done as a passion project and frankly anyone who puts them self out to bring a project like this to people has got my respect. If all we had were the trailers we’ve seen I’d have been monumentally blown away. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the full thing. 9 minutes seems like a lot to me given the quality of the art work.

    Can you tell us anything at all about it other than the duration that we couldn’t have learned already from the trailers?

  • Denoobie

    I’m not sure what I just read. What was the point of this?

  • ChubToad

    It seemed to me that the OP didn’t like the film but also didn’t wanted to crush it under the weight of his own über expectations. Too many justifications on why this film is what it is. We all know the background of the idea and of Erasmus. I’m sure most of us will like it and be thankful for what he added to the 40k universe.
    This is not the next best console game or the next Avengers movie. This is a freelance work made with passion and perseverance. If you don’t know that already, then you are not a fan of 40k.

    I’m pretty sure this prologue is nothing short of amazing. And the best part? It was made by fans for fans, and it’s free.

  • Richard Mitchell

    I don’t know why anyone would hate this project. It is obviously a labor of love to make a film of this quality without being allowed to financially profit from the experience. Many indie films start this way but there is the expectation that they will make some money from it.

  • BloodAngel

    From what I have seen of it so far (just the various trailers released over the years) 9 minutes of this would still blow “Ultramarines” out of the water.

  • EnTyme

    Kudos to the design team for creating such an massive project, and kudos to GW for allowing it to happen. They could have easily said “no” and issued a Cease and Desist, but instead they saw the value in allowing someone to test the waters of 40k cinema (even if it is just an animated short) without any investment on their part.

  • Me

    Two things… First, a criticism of the article:

    “I think we can all agree that GW produces a high quality product and they demand the same from those who represent them in any way.”

    The last half of that statement is a bit disingenuous. Some of the video games that they have licensed IP out for almost make the video game adaptation of ET look good (yes, I am old enough to have played it).

    Second, what I guess is a rhetorical question:

    Why couldn’t they just let them make enough money to do what they wanted to do, like through a kick starter? I mean, they could have licensed it out to the point that the took an increasing cut on any real profits (sliding scale up to 100% once they reach a certain point). I really feel like things like this project could really help GW if they would let them.

  • joetwocrows

    I have enjoyed what I have seen of the trailers.

    I will enjoy what I get, and if I am left wanting more, than Erasmus and his fellows are to be highly congratulated.

  • Hell-Nico

    Well, it was pretty bad to be honest.

    The ambiance was FAR from what 40K is supposed to be, no torch, smoke or morbid cherub here, but instead you got some neon, electric ballon and bright sky. Their was also some really noticeable popping and clipping that shouldn’t have made their way to the final version of that video…

    And the part where the guy got shot was also terrible, at first I thought the shot didn’t touch him because it felt so off…