Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper
I start this review with a confession: I am a reluctant Blizzard fangirl. I spent my late teens/early 20s questing through Azeroth in WOW, I have been known to dabble in Diablo 2 & 3 and ended up having a pretty dependant relationship on Starcraft II. I say reluctant because these games all felt similarly repetitive to me, addictively repetitive, repetitive but beautiful and intricate. I feel that feeling is reflected in this big screen adaptation of Warcraft.
You have to admire the ambition of this film, it’s clearly made by people who love the source material but this is no Lord of the Rings. Newcomers to this story have a lot to catch up with and I wonder if the film delivers anything for them. With LOTR they made the first one confident that they would have the epic three films and there was room for world building and character development. The attempts at character building in this film were pretty terrible apart from the Orc, Durotan, an honourable orc chieftain and father (Toby Kebbell) who provides the most sympathetic storyline of the movie.
There are parts where character relationships are completely rushed and in turn make you feel nothing towards the danger they’re put in. For example, there’s Garona (Paula Pattton), a half-orc, half-human with divided loyalties and perturbingly perfect eyebrows. She’s a tough warrior with a traumatic past, and we get a hint at her back story but plot demands are prioritised and she has a strangely intimate scene with the human warrior Anduin Lothar, that seems completely misplaced and a cheap way to place some sort of sexual tension into a fairly bland plot.Warcraft is just far too earnest, lacking the sense of humour that a fantasy of this kind should have and whenever they try to inject some into the plot it comes across as really clunky and cringe worthy. Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga playing the King and Queen threw me a bit; their bland goodie goodie characters are a far cry from the characters they’re playing in AMC’s Preacher and feature for all of a combined 5 minutes, whereas Glenn Close has a 2 minute scene that I’m not sure is even credited. It’s a film that definitely didn’t make the most of the talent pool it had signed on to it.
The sweeping landscapes are well done, the battle scenes are satisfyingly epic and there are some nice little nods for fan service (the quick shot of the murloc and the guard being turned into a sheep were standouts for me) but the set pieces looked a little Channel 5 Legend of Hercules, and some of the acting reminded me of naff 1970s fantasy films that you can happily have on in the background during a Sunday hangover.
Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone who has played any of the Warcraft games before, just to experience it as a film. I can completely see why Duncan Jones took the decision to make a film like this, to show people the storytelling capability these kinds of games can lead to, but it’s lacking in some much-needed fun. I would have just settled for a dwarf in underwear dancing in the middle of the battlefield (idea for the next one guys). The ending left the opening for a sequel – it would be doable, there are enough races and characters they can introduce – but is there any need? Like the games, I have a feeling it would be a bit of a grind.