Warcraft (2016) Review

warcraft

5.5/10

The world of the Orcs is dying. They open a portal to a human world to start anew, which brings them into conflict with the human kingdoms. The real problem is the evil magic used by the Orc wizard, and both Orcs and Humans need to cooperate to save their world.

Warcraft: The Beginning is a colorful fantasy romp marred by boring characters and haphazard storytelling. I am sorry, game fans who are aching for a good game-to-movie transition. It looks pretty, but none of it is particularly involving. What is missing in this story most of all is interesting characters. Humans and Orcs are pitted against each other and we see the story unfolding from both sides, but the only sympathetic character is an Orc chieftain who is nevertheless a completely boring stock character talking in clichés.

The same affliction of talking in clichés has infected all the other characters. The human king (Dominic Cooper) is spouting lines like “we need to protect our people”, while walking around with a completely empty milquetoast face. He seemed too young to be a king. The prince Lothar swaggers like an arrogant, drunk man while he is glancing weirdly at people around him. I have no idea what actor Travis Fimmel is going for, but at one point he says “I have never felt so much pain as I do now” while sort of moving his head and eyes around like a wooden puppet and I had to snort out loud for how unbelievable that sounded.

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Then there is Ben Foster acting like dickhead while playing the high mage who is supposed to protect the kingdom. I had imagined an older, wiser high wizard, but Foster’s introduction has him walking around bare-chested like he is some kind of Baywatch wizard. All the introductions are haphazardly done in the first 15 minutes. The film has no patience to set up things properly, but jumps from one thing to another without making us invested in it.

A second problem is that the motivations and the pacing of storytelling is just very clumsily done. We are introduced to a junior wizard Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) who ran away from his studies and his introduction made it feel as if he was an antagonist, but then he wasn’t. I guess I was confused because prince Lothar was just being an ass to him for no good reason. And then for some other unexplained reason, high mage Ben Foster demands that Khadgar tags along with him, even though he seems to dislike him. Also, there is this half human half orc woman Garona (Paula Patton), who walks right up to the king like a prowling tiger, but everyone is strangely ok with that. They just hand her a sword and let her fight right next to the king because they trust her for no real reason.

For fans of the game, there is plenty to recognize. The buildings from the strategy games can be seen in the Orc villages and human cities, and even some of the forest critters of the game are thrown in. It is a feast of recognition, but that does not make a film.

Conclusion

Warcraft is visually nice and colorful fun. Another good, fresh idea is to show both the Orcs and the Humans as good people who just want to protect their own. The Orcs were even more fun to follow than the humans. Ultimately though, the story and characters don’t made enough sense, and especially the characters are bland. It is a film that nice to look at, but forgotten quickly.

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