Warcraft: The Beginning (2016) Review

director: Duncan Jones

writers: Duncan Jones & Charles Leavitt 

starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton and Ben Foster 

genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy 

released: 26 May 2016 (Germany), 9 June 2016 (Greece), 10 June 2016 (USA), 16 June 2016 (Australia)

The continuously popular MMO RPG series that has burnt more than a gazillion brain cells of young minds throughout the world finally got its day at the box office and proved that all night and all week raids for gold in the everlasting fight between the Horde and the Alliance was not something general audiences of the West would come to like or see adapted for film. Many saw it for what it was, which is more of the same clichéd entertainment that we have seen before. And that was additionally without any big Hollywood names that would have brought in the crowd of people who would have seen it, despite it being sold as something that has never been done before. Which is having the narrative be from both sides of the fight, but instead of it being better because of it, it turned out to be equally balanced in its portrayal of clichéd acts of heroism and plot mediocrity in what truly is not, genre defining entertainment.

story:

As the world lived by the brutal Orc race withers into decay. The Orc population known as the Horde construct a portal to the planet Azeroth to transport their people and survive their impending doom. There on the planet of Azeroth they will face the 'Alliance' predominantly populated and led by the human race. Who will form a defence force against the invading Horde before the Orcs survival turns into their extinction.

thoughts:

Every video game film seems to starts out with the best of intentions and omens. From great directors being hired, phenomenal casts being a part of the production, extravagant budgets to prop it forward and the utter belief that their production will be the one that gets the videogame film adaptation finally right and make some money in the process. However, no matter the story, actor or handler they have, they all end in mediocrity or complete financial disarray.

'Warcraft' may only have succeeded in the Chinese market and still have a sequel see the light of day. But no studio because of it is green-lighting videogame adaptations in the same way they still are for comic book films. Usually you need a great potential audience to make these films work with comic books and videogames to their credit having a huge number of readers and gamers who value plot driven action stories with arcs. The thing is that the same level of quality they demand in their comics and videogames they also demand in their movies. Additionally, why the need to see one these adaptations when the original medium was equally as good or even better is something studios should ponder over before they waster their millions on poorly developed scripts.

The film itself has a universal story to tell with romantic heartbreak, back-stabbings and a world of hierarchical societies that is never explained but constantly referenced. The film also wasn't too concerned about how important dramatic events such as its main twists may happen, but that they do. For example, the lead character of the film goes through all the beats a hero should go through. Such as personal loss, changing of heart on who the true enemy is and showing courage in the face of danger. But does it matter that we barely spend any time with him to understand his backstory or have some conflict in the story through dialogue and action. Much could also be said about the Orc side to a point and the film's splitting of attention between the two battling factions. Truthfully, the story of the Horde is of refugees fleeing to a more prosperous land but instead of asking for help and demanding a chance to survive, they start committing genocide. Which is an interesting idea to put on screen and to see it all play out. The problem is again that the lame beats the human characters goes through, is the same for the Orcs, but again with very little character development.

Furthermore, they are other areas of interest in the film that can be easily criticized and that weaken the film to a great deal. First off, the absence of many characters of age and of a significant acting gravitas. Within this film, they are no actors that could be characterized as being the anchors of the film to provide wisdom or experience for the younger bunch of lead actors. There barely is anyone over the age of 45 or 50 on screen, from the King and Queen of Azeroth to the Wizards on both sides. Which is ridiculous as most of the power positions in life and in history are held by older and more experienced individuals. Something the world of the Orcs and Humans are devoid of. Additionally, the actors chosen in the film are all young/hot talent, with a few that I do personally admire but the rest I would say are still unproven and could have been replaced by older actors of a higher stature. Such as the King role that originally was for Colin Farrell and maybe a couple of other roles as well that could have easily been aged up in kind.

Nonetheless, the film has the effects, costumes and action still on its side. The handling of the psychics of the large offish orcs compared to the small humans is done adequately and the wizard effects are the standout effects moments in the film. Although, it must be mentioned that there wasn't any jaw dropping action set piece moment in the film. Not that it needed to, but when your character development is a main issue and the world building is obviously weak. With no history or mythos given to the world. They should have put at least some more effort in the filler content of action and spectacle. Pretty much what 'Rogue One' marvellously did to compensate for its predictable story, weak plot and underdeveloped characters, of which there is no shame in.

verdict:

The amount of dedication and love that fans of 'Warcraft' show by shelling out yearly subscriptions, playing daily in online game sessions and prowling Blizzard forums to prove who has more mana wasn't equaled by the overall efforts of this production. They sadly went the tried and true way of following the clichéd hero narrative and swept under the rug some of its most important story and character elements (genocide, refugee crisis and a world of diverse creatures and races). Making Warcraft feel different enough from 'LOTR' or 'GOT' before it, but not as special.

Personal Rating:

review by P K

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