Based on the hugely popular Warcraft game series, the live-action adaptation of the same name makes the leap onto the big screen , but does it belong their or is its rightful place on PC screens?
Duncan Jones (known for his hugely popular low-budget sci-fi flicks such as Moon and Source Code) tries his hand at the summer blockbuster and for the most part, does very well. For a franchise that is just starting up, he manages to set up just enough plot and some great characters to leave us hanging on for more.
We enter the story where the orcs are fleeing their dying homeland of Draenor through a magical portal to the human realm of Azeroth, where they look to settle down after forcefully taking the land from the humans. Said portal is powered by the dark magic of Gul’dan, an orc warlock who wields the powerful fel magic, a dark power that needs to feed on the living to sustain itself. Enter stage right, orc soldier and honourable chieftain Durotan (played beautifully through motion capture by Toby Kebbell), who has just fathered the most adorable baby orc you’ve seen on-screen to date (he’ll definitely play a major role in coming sequels).
The orcs are now in Stormwind, a peaceful kingdom of the humans, led by King Llane (Dominic Cooper) and his partner Queen Taria Wrynn (Ruth Negga). There’s also dwarves, elves and other magical creatures, but we don’t get to see them much.
Their army is led by Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel of Vikings fame), who apart from taking care of his knight duties is also trying to be a better father to his soldier-son Callan (Burkely Duffield). Lothar is helped in his quest to fight the orcs by a promising young mage, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer).
The orc-human fight has begun but Durotan feels that something’s amiss and just maybe, the humans are not the real enemy. And this is where the story really begins.
What is pleasantly surprising Cooper and Negga, the lead actors of the brand new and much-awaited Preacher TV series (who were at Comic Con | London Excel 2016) playing the King and Queen of Stormwind. Cooper gives a solid performance as the benevolent king in a nice move away from the incompetent king who only rules from a throne. Instead we see him lead the charge and make the ultimate sacrifice for his people.
Negga showed promise but had little to do and will, hopefully, get a bigger role in successive films.
Ben Foster’s turn now as the Azeroth’s leather-pants-wearing Guardian Medivh a sorcerer with unimaginable powers. He plays the role well but at times manages to look like a washed-up hippie on the beaches of Goa, who couldn’t give a damn about the drama that’s unfolding around him.
The best performance was by Fimmel — his Lothar is charismatic, humorous and brings in all the pathos of a leader who is at the peak of his powers.
Paula Patton’s half human-half orc Garona was an enigmatic presence. Her violent past is shrouded in mystery and we’re naturally drawn to her. If only they didn’t have to give her those prosthetic fangs (the equivalent of wearing plastic vampire teeth at Halloween) — that rendered her a little difficult to take seriously at times.
The CGI is great, a little too great. There’s just too much going on for the audience to be able to truly take it all in, and we’re constantly taken from one land to the next with out pausing for breath. This causes us to form no real relationship with the places that are shown to us. Although impressive in scale and structure, the landscape leaves us a tad too cold.
The movie’s strength lies in Jones’ earnestness and his ability to add heart and grit to, let’s face it, a story that we’ve seen over and over in fantasy films across the ages. That said, Warcraft is a welcome change from all the superheroes in spandex, capes and shaky cam action (I’m looking at you civil war!) that we’ve been inundated with since the beginning of the year.
Not since the last Hobbit film have fantasy genre fans had anything significant to really sink their teeth into (even if they are plastic). And hopefully, Warcraft, in its promised sequels, will rise up to that challenge.
As a non warcraft game player I left the cinema struggling to remember all of their unique names, but truly enjoyed the experience into the fantasy word.
So out of a possible five stars, Warcraft earns:
What did you think of this film, did it do the games justice?
Thank you for reading