Warcraft: The Beginning Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Warcraft finally delivers a hardcore fantasy blockbuster that is not based on a J.R.R. Tolkien novel - but instead on a video game.
Director: Duncan Jones Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin & Callum Keith Rennie. Run Time: 123 min. US Release: 10 June 2016 UK Release: 30 May 2016 German Release: 26 May 2016
Let me first apologise for the lateness of this review (and others that will follow along the month of September). I recently changed jobs and it kept me extremely busy. I will, however, continue reviewing movies, even if I need to shorten down the amount of films I review. New reviews will be posted now on Saturday and Sundays, while I’ll use Friday’s (and sometimes Monday’s) to post movies I missed in June, July and August. Today I will post my overdue review for Warcraft: The Beginning, which was directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) and even though it is not the mind-blowing fantasy flick I hoped it would be, it did manage to entertain me throughout its length.
My knowledge of the plot of the Warcraft games is limited. I never played World of Warcraft, but I did enjoy sitting through many hours of Warcraft 3, in front of my PC screen. This sparked my interest in the series and pushed me to research the story of the first two Warcraft games, on which this blockbuster is based on. What really excited me about this movie, though, was the possibility to see a well-done game adaptation and a possible fantasy epos that is not based on a J.R.R. book. Not that I have anything against Tolkien’s tales, The Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite fantasy novel adaptations.
As stated before, the plot of the film is taken from the first Warcraft game. When the Warlock Gul’dan (Wu) and his Orc army flee their dying world, they start invading Azeroth, the kingdom of men. In need to defend his people, King Llane Wrynn (Cooper) sends his brother-in-law and commander of the alliance army, Anduin (Fimmel), to summon the Guardian of Tirisfal (Foster). While mean, Orc chieftain Durotan (Kebbell) and half Orc Garona (Patton) try and forge an alliance with the humans, as mistrust towards their leader Gul’dan grows stronger. The result is an epic battle between two races and an open end for a possible sequel.
While watching Warcraft it dawned on me that Duncan Jones is a true fan of the Warcraft mythology and it was therefore my biggest surprise to see that the story and dialogues are one of the weakest aspects of this fantasy epos. For one, the plot is a bit bloated for the one movie. While I understand that Jones and the writers were trying to introduce us to the world of the game, I thought that it could have benefited from a little less, since it focused on too many stories.
The most compelling narrative in the whole film is the one of the Orcs. In fact, I do wish the plot had focused more on the Orc tribe that made it to Azeroth, instead of switching back and forth between parties. At the same time, it is something I found to be extremely disappointing because the central knot of the movie is the struggle between Orcs and Humans. The problem is simply that none of the human components are interesting to me. The third part of the movie consists partially of a side story about mage’s, which is easy to foresee and kind of ruined this fantasy blockbuster’s plot twist.
Character wise, the best performances are given by Toby Kebbell, Paula Patton and Daniel Wu; all actors who play Orcs. I especially like Kebbell and Patton’s performances as Durotan and Garona, as they had depth and are sympathetic characters. The biggest disappointment for me is Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar. I am a big fan of Fimmel, ever since I saw him as Ragnar Lothbrok in the TV series Vikings, but sadly his persona in this blockbuster is shallow despite him being one of the main characters of the movie.
The worst of the renditions, though, are given by Ben Foster, who is simply over-the-top from beginning to end and Ben Schnetzer, who is incredibly irritating in a boring kind of way, as the apprentice mage.
This brings me to the best part of the movie: The cinematography and effects! This fantasy blockbuster contains a lot of computer-generated imagery and for the most part, it does mesh well with the human component of the film. The design of the Orks and the panoramic scenes look hauntingly beautiful and realistic. It isn’t always perfect, as there are times when the CG looks weak, like the hippogriff, which is one big issue I have with the effects, because it is a being that has longer screen time than I had expected. The cinematographic style, though, is fantastic and I was in awe as I witnessed every little detail that Jones displayed on screen coming to lief; from the way the camera pans over specific shots that share a feeling of epicness and beauty with the audience, to the grand opening act and the way Duncan Jones directed the battles between humans and Orcs.
Verdict: Taking everything into consideration, Warcraft: the Beginning is by no means a masterpiece or a groundbreaking blockbuster for the fantasy genre. It is though a good looking and entertaining flick, even if the narrative lacks in depth at times and it’s human characters are extremely bland and one-dimensional. Having said that, the epic battle scenes, the beautiful effects and the fantastic rendition of the Orcs saved this movie for me - especially the final battle. It may not be the movie that Warcraft fans were hoping to obtain but it still is a hardcore fantasy flick, something I feel is very rare this day of age. Even though I can’t really picture myself watching this movie again (maybe with friends who haven’t seen the movie yet), I will give it a 7.0 out of 10 and recommend it for a one-time watch.
So what did you think of Warcraft: The Beginning? Are you a fantasy fan or do you prefer more grounded movies? I am planning on writing and posting my review for Money Monster soon after, so if you are interested to hear my thoughts on it, check out my blog this eve. Thank you very much for reading my thoughts on the Warcraft movie and as always, if you enjoyed it please share, like and subscribe.