Now I may not be the designated audience member for this film, as I’ve never played the game or taken an interest in the lore of it, but in general I feel this 2016 fantasy flick doesn’t strike gold for any audience member. It may come under the epic genre but to me it feels sorely one note.
Orcs and humans have had a rivalry for years but they are now separated by worlds, however by the Fel (magic), the orcs step back through to the land of human rule. Durotan (Toby Kebbell) starts seeing this green magic as wrong and thinks siding with people like Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) will ensure he and his clan can overthrow the powerful Gul’dan (Daniel Wu).
The utterly brilliant Duncan Jones of ‘Moon’ and ‘Source Code’ wonderment directs this CGI filled story of battles, honour and magic. These things are all felt and used a lot but everything seems to fade in and out, cutting to different places as if trying to keep the narrative pacy and exciting. There’s no time to get to know the characters and for the uninitiated like myself that’s not a great selling point to immerse yourself into this grand world he and a team of effects specialists have created.
It feels like it’s attempting to capture the loved ‘Game of Thrones’ appeal, and yes at times this feature does have that feel, it’s more of a fantastical and dumb foray into the fantasy realm. At least it does have the amazing Ramin Djawadi of GoT music on hand to provide an epic score that drums away heavily making the pre-battles and fights sound great.
What I had a problem with was the convenient way most aspects of this film were dealt with, people came and went, characters got out of sticky situations down to deus ex machina moments and the nearly 100% cringe worthy dialogue that smothered the film. There’s a camp-fire of exposition, orcs and humans interact as if speaking the plot is all they can do and attempts at humour to fill gaps are so poor I feel for the people that laughed at those times. This is a movie that is so lumbering I think only the true fans will like it and therefore I can’t see any wider engagement to it.
Looking into this film before completing this review I have now found out that the CGI, or look of the orcs was achieved by motion capture. The reason I mention this is because I honestly felt that the way they looked and moved was so distancing and every one of these leather skinned beasts looked like computer graphics, they didn’t become part of the landscape at all. I’m surprised that it’s mo-cap as they don’t come across in the same manner as Caesar or Gollum. The whole vision of the film reminded me of those phone games, like Clash of Clans which was advertised before the movie itself!
Travis Fimmel, a green eyed and cheap Channing Tatum is a mostly bland hero that tries wise cracking from time to time but serves mostly to easily get out of scrapes and hint at a cross breeding romance. Dominic Cooper and his luscious locks are a good appearance as the king, he brings a suitable level of royalty and commander presence to the role. Paula Patton is rather good actually, she’s both a warrior and afraid of what her siding with the humans could do. I felt the most on side with her character unlike Khadgar played by Ben Schnetzer, who the movie liked following a lot unfortunately. To be fair Gul’dan was a cool looking wizard-esque villain that ate up the scenery.
Everything near the end of the film seems to just kind of stop from getting wrapped up as the film-makers are confident they’ll be able to continue with the next outing. Let’s hope that ‘Warcraft: the Beginning’ is also the End.