“Our hope is destroyed; there is nothing to go back to. Is war the only answer?”
The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home.
Movies based on video games have been a total crapshoot. In a society which has claimed a solid foothold in the superhero genre, video game films remain an elusive and fickle beast. With such recent gems as Doom, The Resident Evil franchise, and Tomb Raider, we have been treated to a series of raging garbage fires. Hollywood has not given hope just yet. Enter Warcraft, a movie based on the famous and expansive internet based role playing game. The idea behind a Warcraft movie, is above all else, an effort to provide entertainment to an already existing fan base. Coming with a built in audience, this film swiftly becomes an exercise in aptitude to learn the very complicated language from a videogame that a lot of you may have never played a single second of. Basically you are left in the middle of a foreign country with no Rosetta Stone, struggling to gauge your surroundings.
Fans of the video game will certainly be able to gather something from this seemingly incoherent CGI riddled film. It seems like an inside joke that non-gamers weren’t let in on. Therein lies the issue, Warcraft, has resigned itself to cater to the few, and alienate the general movie going public. The film enters straight away into a world, nubes will not understand, and takes no consideration to it’s audience by leaving us to ascertain the environment with little to no exposition or prologue. Instead we are introduced to a number of characters of different genealogies, and left to figure out what their places are in this environment, or if they even reside in the same world. Literally the film opens with one 7 second clip of introductory narration that provides no insight into the setting you are unsanctimoniously plunged into. Warcraft throws you into the deep end in lieu of building momentum and educating you on the characters, the setting, and even the plot. This film continually betrays your trust, by providing big action set pieces with no development, so yes you are mildly entertained, but still wildly confused.
The story that hovers just above the surface of Warcraft is an allegory to climate change and environmental destruction, met with a territorial power struggle. These themes are supposedly the over arching story elements meant to drive the action, but they are thin at best and are not explored nearly enough to allow the general audiences to emotionally invest in the characters or plot. Unknown if this particular middle earthy style movie plays to it’s nitsche audience or not, there is no question this lacks mass appeal. The set pieces are all fantastically overblown, and most of the characters are superficial. This movie, end to end, is far more Hobbit than Lord of The Rings. The human element, is what leaves so much to be desired. The characters all have this strange bewilderment, with only semi plausible back stories that elicit no attachment to their well being. Each individual human character becomes an underdeveloped mess, with thinly veiled motives, and minimal awareness of the very world in which they reside. We see Travis Fimmel of Vikings fame appear, and provide a serviceable performance against a poorly written script, which convolutes his character to such a degree where it becomes impossible to care for him. Fans of the TV show Preacher will be happy to see Dominic Cooper over acting his way through an unbelievably and perhaps even morosely gullible and dim witted king. The rest of the human characters serve little purpose and are utilized moving scenery.
Where Warcraft does finally succeed is in it’s computer generated characterizations. Toby Kebbell provides an truly honest portrayal of Dultan, an orc who fears for his people. The script does not give him nearly enough to do, but he shines, proving that he is the heir to the motion capture throne. The rest of the orc clan, say for the particularly colorful, and cheaply cartoonish villain, Gul’dan, is purposefully developed and engineered to induce interest and care from the audience, unlike their human counterparts. The orcs have a backstory and the audience is granted passage into motivational details, and familial ties, allowing an opportunity to align with the CGI characters. The issue with the orcs lies solely with the mustache twirling railroading Gul’dan. Motion captured by Daniel Wu, this is a Marvel-esque villain who has no depth, and no mystique, and is laughably portrayed.
Warcraft is an overcomplicated sense thrashing experience. That said, it is also entertaining, much in the way a monster truck rally is. It is loud, bright and the action is fun, but it’s all flare and and no substance. The reasoning behind the conflict is underdeveloped, and bull headed. The writing for the film is overwrought with cliche, and the movie is confusing, presumably to anyone who hasn’t been enveloped in the source material. The creators of this film spent such an amazing amount of time ensuring this would please the narrowest of it’s audience that they failed to create a coherent and emotionally riveting experience that would allow the general movie-goer any enjoyment or real understanding of what’s happening and why. The sentiment for this film exists, and the fans of the game will hopefully be satisfied by seeing some of the characters come to life on the big screen, however the rest of the public will get little to no pleasure from this nonsensical, fantastical, meandering and illogical piece of cinema. The performances are sufficient but not transcendent. The story is below average, the action is bold and visceral but ultimately falls flat due to the lack of necessary exposition that arranges the vast set pieces. Warcraft eventually only builds to anticlimactic finishing frames, that only promise more stories, without any fulfillment. The arrogance of the production team to hoist a poorly designed narrative and expect the audience will grant them a second sitting, when the first was so detrimentally inside baseball, is beyond reproach. Warcraft is not the savior of video game adaptations, and its redundancies only add it to the pantheon of poorly written missteps to the genre.
2/5 Do Better Bro