I’ve never played World of Warcraft before, which is exactly why I’m the kind of person that needed to love this film. In order for it to be a success, avid film fans like me (particularly ones who fall in the target demographic) had to spread the word, and make it the success everybody wanted it to be. Those familiar with his work want director Duncan Jones to step his career up to the next level, and anyone who’s been following the movie industry knows that we’re about to get an onslaught of video game adaptations, supposedly with Warcraft leading the way.
The Orc home world is dead. Their leader, sorcerer Gul’dan has built a portal, capable to transporting them to another world – the peaceful realm of Azeroth. After years without war, Warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and Sorcerer Medivh (Ben Foster) must come together to stop the impending invasion. Not convinced by the path their leader is taking, Orc chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) sets out to help the humans fight, in the hope that they can live in peace.
You can probably tell just from reading this synopsis that Warcraft (bravely, and perhaps inaccurately subtitled ‘The Beginning‘) is deep fantasy. I personally want to see more films made in this genre, and have really felt their absence in recent years (no, Twilight doesn’t count), the problem is that Warcraft is so far into the genre and lore of the games that even to somebody desperate for it to succeed, it’s quite tough to get into.
The opening scene is very strong, and choosing to start the film with a close, detailed shot of a fully animated character was brave, but it does work. Some of the effects on show are the closest thing we’ve ever had to photo-realism, and they’re not shy about showing that off. You can also feel just how good the motion-captured performances are, particularly that of Toby Kebbell’s Durotan, who is without doubt the standout character of the film. Ben Foster’s Medivh also provides some of the better moments, while the main character Anduin (played by Travis Fimmel) is pretty generic and forgettable.
One of the biggest issues with this film is that the action is quite poor. Not only is there very little of it, but when it does happen it feels slow, and the choreography is obvious. You never at any point feel the stakes of what’s happening, and the plot is a little too easy to follow. Any twist or reveal is seen from a mile away, and the characters just seem to plod around to various locations, with not much happening when they get there.
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