‘Warcraft: The Beginning’: Another Failed Video Game Adaption Despite All The Right Ingredients | Film Review
Warcraft is another one to add to the list of failed video game movie adaptions. This failure is far more frustrating though as the ingredients were there and there are moments of potential that struggle to shine through the muddled whole.
The first ingredient secured was the director of Moon and Source Code Duncan Jones. A great selection of a minimalist breakout director gifted the keys to a studio tentpole.
Jones manages to create an almost coherent story from a game with countless characters and races that has no specific plot or end point. Ultimately the sheer bulk of the task overwhelms the film as it trys to contend with the gaming lore, high fantasy and CGI events and thrills.
The film opens with a chummy Orc family expecting their first child as their world around them dies. This race of Orcs, led by a Magical and tyrannical warlock, pass through a magical portal into the land of Azeroth. Plot holes are apparent instantly as this initial Orc prologue only makes sense much later in the film.
The Orcs seek to conquer the humans in Azeroth, but one Orc wants to broker peace. Then things happens with sorcerers, dwarves, guardians, nasty green magic, kings, floating cities, giant flying Eagles, giant wolves, unexplained mixed species, fights, family ties and emotional challenges.
I am a big fan of the fantasy epic genre so really wanted to like this film despite having no experience of the game. In the modern era it is great to have a fantasy epic with a 2 hour running time but somehow the film simultaneously drags and rushes character development.
The film takes brave narrative risks with unexpected deaths but predictable conclusions. Orc customs and magical rules are conveniently revealed where the plot demands it. There is plenty of quick scenes between seemingly distant locations when we are first in the land of Azeroth to establish a plot but the fantasy lore and any authenticity is immediately disbanded.
The performance capture work of Toby Kebbell is outstanding and the CGI looks great. However the action scenes and fights are very disappointing. They carry a weightless effect and are difficult to follow lacking any of the emotional depth of the fight scenes in the recent Marvel films.
Travis Fimmel is a leading man waiting for the right vehicle to launch him to his deserved heights. Acclaimed for his leading role in the series Vikings he is also the best thing in this film as the noble warrior Lothar. He evokes depth with minimal dialogue and exudes pathos and a wry twinkle from his eyes. He seems to enjoy the role far more than the rest of the cast finding the only lighter moments that the film desperately needs more of.
When Fimmel is with Ben Schnetzer’s Khadgar they raise the film by adding a big dollop of ‘fantasy fun’ but are overcrowded by the bulky plot and ensemble cast. Dominic Cooper is picking up the pay cheque, Ben Foster does his creepy schtick with a bit of magic and Paula Patton‘s unexplained mixed race fills a number of cliches.
The film does not offend or annoy, it disappoints as the final product is far less than the sum of its parts. I have no desire to return for more adventures in Azeroth and the final shot of the film that teases future films was met with an unintentional laugh.
It might be called ‘The Beginning‘ but it is more likely to be the ‘end’ for this potential franchise. Hopefully it is only the beginning of Travis Fimmel‘s Hollywood career and Duncan Jones‘ career will get back on track.
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