Fans of the role-playing strategy video game will love Duncan Jones’ Warcraft movie, an enchanting tale of fantasy and mythology. However, those who haven’t played any of the games might find themselves lost in the middle of a visually beautiful and colourful CGI battle between orcs, knights, and wizards. The real battle here is between the visuals and the story, and ultimately the story loses.
Video games have always had a hard time progressing into movies. Despite numerous attempts, it seems that the two mediums just don’t gel well together. Warcraft is no different. It’s a strange beast – big, jumbled, spectacular and complicated. Yet, even in the hands of the esteemed director of Moon and Source Code, Blizzard’s sword ’n’ sorcery film doesn’t find it’s feet. It attempts to please gamers, rather than moviegoers.
Warcraft follows the path of at least five main characters, making it incredibly difficult to follow. The strongest of these is musclebound CGI orc chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell). He is an honourable orc who strongly believes in protecting his tribe and his family. He comes from a destroyed planet called Draenor, which is consumed by the Fel. A dark wizard leader named Gul’dan creates a portal from Draenor to Azeroth, and the Horde plan an attack to take over the planet. On the other side of the line, a brave warrior named Lothar (Travis Fimmel) is approached by a young mage, Khadgar, warning of an impending danger. Lothar approaches the King (Dominic Cooper), who summons The Guardian (Ben Foster), a wizard with great powers. And so a fight between the two different sides becomes more complicated as orcs turn against orcs and humans turn against humans.
It all becomes rather overwhelming when the lead characters hop between cities and places through teleportation and giant eagles. Mix in the magical spells, the old English dialogue, and a sexy half-orc (Paula Patton) and you have a recipe for confusion. What’s more, the cast feels completely wrong here. Ben Foster’s wizard feels more like a modern drug addict and Travis Fimmel just doesn’t have the muscle to be a leading man. The best performance comes from Kebbell’s Durotan. He plays the character with such believability that he feels like the only human in the entire film.
Despite its unbelievable premise, Warcraft is deprived of humour. Fans of the game will be roaring with glee, but those who aren’t might feel like their own life force is being drained. It’s not a bad film by any stretch, but it’s not a good one either. Unfortunately, the video game movie curse continues.