Warcraft: The Beginning – Review

The video game movie curse hasn’t been lifted just yet.

If there’s anything we know about films based on video games, it’s that they have yet to truly wow us. I’ll cover this in an opinion piece soon, so I won’t go in to too much detail. Warcraft: The Beginning is the first film of a possible series, and has garnered quite the hype recently. Advertised as a film for the fans of the game and general cinema goers – is it another failure in the video game adaptation world?

It tells the story of two heroes, one human and one Orc, who end up on a path to save their civilisation as a war brews between the two races. With the Orcs trying to colonise Azeroth – the humans’ realm – the conflict between the two is rapidly going out of control.

That’s my interpretation of the story anyway. If I’m honest, I found it all a bit confusing – and that’s not my fault. The film is a mess, jumping from place to place, outlandish character to even more outlandish character, without giving us non-Warcraft players time to understand.

warcraft_movie2-970-80
Talk about an underbite eh? (© – Universal Pictures)

Director Duncan Jones has clearly given the Warcraft-lore his utmost affection, but even his heartfelt approach to the material can’t make it translate well on screen. All he’s managed to do in turn is highlight the silliness of it all.

Like most wannabe fantasy epics in the wake of Lord of the Rings, there are certain things present in Warcraft: mega-CGI, bizarre characters and shitty performances.

Vikings star Travis Fimmel plays the lead role on the human side, the character Sir Anduin Lothar. For someone who should be heroic and charismatic, he never grabs hold of us the way I hoped. He’s no Aragorn, put it that way.

Ben Foster, who gave us a career-best performance in The Program last year, seems to be working as hard as he can to reinforce that very description – he is past his best. He plays Medivh, the Guardian of Tirisfal. Basically, he’s a mage who watches over the human realm. Whilst as a character he is a force to be reckoned with, his performance could be described as laughable at best. From the get-go I disliked him, and by the time the credits rolled that feeling remained.

One character who managed to impress me was Toby Kebbell as Durotan. He plays the noble chieftain of the Orc’s clan, and whilst his character is pure-CGI, his performance carries a certain level of emotion.

I found the special effects a little tiring by the end, but admittedly the Orc CGI is stunning. Seamless animation breathes life into the brutal fight scenes, showing them as powerful beasts rather than silly giants. Also, the care put into the beauty of the world does make the film a little more enjoyable. Sprawling landscapes, marvellous architecture, vibrant environments – it’s all a wonder to take in.

warcraft_city
It is rather pretty isn’t it? (© – Universal Pictures)

The film does choose a more character-based approach to the story, which is a refreshing change to the usual ‘continuous fights formula’ seen in most fantasy films these days. The characters may not be all that interesting, but I admire the courage to take this approach.

To sum it up…

Warcraft is most definitely a film for the fans, but for me, I found it to be a highly flawed affair. Ridiculous characters, a muddled story and overstuffed mythology combine together to make watching Warcraft a rather tiring experience – to the point where I nearly fell asleep in the first hour. It may look beautiful, and the fight scenes are moderately thrilling, but don’t be fooled, give this one a miss. That is, unless you like World of Warcraft of course. 

Rating: QUITE DIRE

Check out the trailer:

What do you think? Did you enjoy Warcraft: The Beginning? Let me know in the comments, or tweet @film_swot.

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