Director: Tyber Portoghese
Starring: Harry Bishpo, Ty Harper
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Set During the Unification Wars, The Emperor of Mankind has conquered Terra (Earth) from various warlords in the 30th Millenium with the goal of saving the planet and bringing humanity into a prosperous age. Uriah Olathaire tends to his church, the last remaining on Terra, as the Emperor seeks to vanquish religion entirely. Uriah is visited one night by a stranger who wears a friendly face and seeks to debate the merits of religion with the last remaining holy man on Terra.
So the secret is out, I’m a massive Warhammer 40k enthusiast, one who started collecting the miniatures in my adolescence and returned a full 12 years later to delve head first into both the lore and collecting again. This tabletop game comes with an expansive science fiction universe that caught my interest again over the last few years and dragged me right back into my childhood hobby with a new appreciation for how branching and intricate the mythology of the setting is. This review is very niche because I couldn’t even begin to explain the setting or the universe without a 20 hour long explanation of both the current setting of the 40k universe as well as the pre-existing lore that explains this particular film. To put it simply, to the dozen 40k fans who might stumble across this review, welcome.
The Last Church is an animated retelling of a short story within the Warhammer 40k Universe set during a period called the Unification Wars, where an all-powerful figure called The Emperor rose to prominence and conquered a dystopian Earth with genetically enhanced humans called Thunder Warriors. During this period he brought unity to the planet, who basked in this divine figure’s glory and bowed to him. As The Emperor set his ambition to the stars, he sought to cleanse the cradle of humanity from the anchor of religion, which he deemed backwards and a catalyst for humanities collapse.
The last remaining holy temple on Terra is visited by a stranger who seeks to debate with its guardian, Uriah, about his faith and the destructive nature of faith. While I’ve done my best to lay the groundwork for the background to the story, director Tyber Portoghese does an incredible job of bringing one of the most philosophical discussions in the 40k universe to video with gorgeous animation and directing a fantastic voice cast to bring this poignant story to life. The Last Church is a rare moment of Pre-Grim Dark 40k with a human discussion at its centre.
Presented more as a stage play with minimum locations and a dialogue heavy narrative, we still get flashes of the grim/gruesome nature of this universe through flashbacks that don’t hold back on the darker themes of this discussion. The world building and handling of the lore is excellent, especially seeing this time period brought to life visually which fans of the hobby have not seen before.
Luckily, the entire film is featured on YouTube, which we’ve linked above. It’s a fantastic retelling of one of my favourite 40k stories within the universe and holds a beautiful conclusion with a bittersweet revelation that predicts the future of the lore.
*Update: Unfortunately Gamesworkshop have reached out and asked the owner to scrub the video. This is especially poor form by GW considering it has been public knowledge that the project is on Kickstarter and years in the making with serious investment from fans. As Majorkill highlighted in one of his recent videos, the timing of Gamesworkshop cease and desist is in bad faith. you can find the owners full statement here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxvVOGv5ueoY2crbilUTS5g/community
Flasks of Amasec