WARCRAFT

Directed by: – Duncan Jones

Produced by: – Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Charles Roven, Alex Gartner, Stuart Fenegan

Starring: – Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper , Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer , Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu , Ruth Negga , Clancy Brown,  Anna Galvin
Run time:- 123 minutes (2hrs 3mins)
 
 
Two Worlds. One Home.
 
For some weird reason, video games and movies tend to mix like oil and water. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason but one must remember that most video-games involve players controlling an avatar from point A to point B with their plots only existing to provide context for their characters actions. But going on that reason alone is not good enough.
 
The video game industry has evolved into a billion dollar business that can now produce titles like the Mass Effect, Uncharted and the Metal Gear Solid series which contain stories that are just as intricate and nuanced as a lot of Hollywood efforts and in many ways,  surpass a lot of them as players get a greater connection to the characters as they are controlling them. So when popular games like Far Cry, Resident Evil (not all of them are bad) or Tomb Raider get transferred to the big screen a lot of its soul is lost in translation as the experience is not as immersive as their source material.
 
The films visuals are a highlight.

The films visuals are a highlight.

Another problem with this conundrum that also used to effect comic book movies of earlier days is the fact that a lot of studios and directors have not grown up videogames, which as a result means they tend not understand what made the games appealing to people. This year, we have seen a significant improvement in these adaptations. This year we have seen a decent adaptation of Sony’s dynamic duo Ratchet & Clank and the mega popular mobile app Angry Birds came out a lot better than we thought it would be. The biggest one which many feel would lift the curse is the film adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s mega popular Warcraft franchise which started out as a series of real time strategy games that evolved into its insanely popular Massively multiplayer online role-playing experience that has become, The world of Warcraft .
 Lothar the warrior and Khadghar the mage-in-training.


Lothar the warrior and Khadghar the mage-in-training.

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood gets its claws on this franchise. Based on first impressions, it looks like the studio execs were taking the right steps to make this movie the messiah of video-game flicks as it got the critically acclaimed director Duncan Jones of Moon and Source Code fame, who is determined to the film justice as he actually reached out to fans and the developers of the games on how it they would like the film to be portrayed.
 

The film also has potential as it features a decent cast that are more than capable of doing the characters of the game justice.  I will go on record here to say that whilst being a little familiar with the franchise I’m not the biggest fan as I have not played every game in this franchise and I will objectively review this film as a film not one based on a video game. The film is set in the world of Azeroth, which is on the brink of destruction as its civilization faces the terrifying horde, a race of Orcs who are fleeing away from their dying world as result of Orc leader and sorcerer, Gul’dan  (Daniel Wu) draining their home world’s energy with his magic and is doing the same in Azeroth. Orc Chieftain, Durotan (Toby Kebbell) recognises that the only way to thwart Gul’dan’s plan is to join forces with the humans of the Stormwind Kingdom who are led by King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and the Warrior, Anudin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), but his plans are exposed when the general of the Orcs, Blackhand (Clancy Brown) gets wind of this uneasy alliance .

Paula Patton plays the conflicted half human/half orc lady Garona.

Paula Patton plays the conflicted half human/half orc lady Garona.

Amongst the mix, our protagonists also gain help from veteran wizard and guardian of the Stormwind kingdom, Medivh (Ben Foster) and apprentice, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer).  Finally the film also focuses on the struggles of the half-human /Orc breed called Garona (Paula Patton) who is conflicted on which side she belongs in amidst the conflict. With that established lets examine what the film does right and does wrong.

PROS
 
  • The movie is visually impressive. The world of Azeroth looks bright and colourful like the video games. With this sort of adaptation, there is usually a danger that it will look like a Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones rip –off but it does more than enough to establish its own identity. The computer effects for the magic are awesome; the creatures look awesome and terrifying.
  •  The highlights of this visually arresting film in the aesthetics department are indeed the Orcs. From the opening shot of Durotan’s face you can see a massive amount of effort went into recreating the games Orcs that were motion captured.  They emote extremely well; you can feel the pain of these characters when they take damage as well. They look menacing; you feel their footsteps shake the ground. You  will also feel the weight of  their attacks. What I also really appreciate is that each Orc has a distinct look; the villainous Gul’dan for example looks old and has a beard whilst Blackhand carries a signature axe and has bones of a dead animal on his back.
  • Fans of the franchise will be ecstatic to see that film respects its source material well. The movie takes its time to describe a lot of elements of the lore which followers will appreciate and it also nice that it keeps the uninitiated up to speed, however its this point is also a double sword that harms the experience that I will mention in the Cons section.
  •  Often under-appreciated actor, Toby Kebbell (Rock n’ Rolla, Black Mirror, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) gives the crowd a solid performance as the conflicted Durotan, a chieftain of a clan within the horde.  On top of the fact that he is a fearsome warrior, He is also brave and compassionate and is without a doubt the most developed character in the cast.
  • Paula Patton also gives us an admirable performance as Garona, the half human/half Orc warrior. Not only is she a badass in this movie but she is also one of the few characters with complexities and subtleties, good it unfortunately never reaches its potential as sometimes she struggles to deliver her lines as a result of her prosthetic fangs getting in the way of her delivery and gives the character a hammy, over-the top feel which can be seen as good or bad depending on your preference. I feel that she ultimately did a good job because her performance will ultimately leave you wondering where her character will go next if the film gets a sequel (I hope it does).
  • The film has really good battle set pieces. They are brutal, visceral and exciting.  Something of note is that they have variety. Some of the battles take the form of a one-on-one duel, a really frantic forest ambush and a wide scale battle that would make Lord of the Rings fans happy.
  • Something I don’t usually give praise for, but I really enjoyed the barbaric drumming and epic feel of the movies soundtrack. It must be mentioned that Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim, Prison Break composer Ramin Djawadi provided his musical talents to this film.
The film boasts some cool action sequences.

The film boasts some cool action sequences.

CONS
  • The film is plagued with pacing issues. This comes as a result of the producers and the director trying their best to respect the source material as it drops a lot of expositional dumps on the viewers so that those who are not familiar with the lore get up to speed instead of having more action set pieces which are arguably the best part of the film.   This comes as a result of having too many characters in the film. It also doesn’t help that the movie awkwardly switches back and forth between the Humans and the Orcs. This is kind of unfortunate because it raises the question whether this movie would have worked better as a TV show.
  • The experience is uneven as the human based characters give a weaker performance compared to the actors who mo-capped the Orcs. They don’t merely get as much screen time as their counter-parts and their character development for certain characters feels a bit rushed for example Khadgar the apprentice mage is awkwardly introduced and doesn’t do much and then has one major scene where he has to go somewhere for the sake of plot convenience.
  •  Compounding the aforementioned point is the main protagonist from the Human side Lothar ,who is portrayed by Travis Fimmel. He is not a very charismatic character. There is no doubt that the character is cool, thanks to the manner in which he dispatches a lot of Orcs but other than looking eerily similar to Vigo Mortensen Aragon from the Lord of the Rings films, there isn’t really much character development for him. The only thing you know by time you finish the film is that he is the queen’s sister and has a son Callan (Burkely Duffield) who he has troubles connecting to.  With interesting titbits like that, it could have easily added a lot more depth to the character and they don’t use enough screen time to emphasize on that point and its brushed to the side in a hast manner which damages the film.
  • According to Duncan Jones a whopping 40 minutes of screen time was cut from the theatrical release, which makes the film feel incomplete in certain parts, and rushed. I feel this cut content maybe the reason why certain characters are not as developed as the Orcs.
  •  Dominic Cooper, whilst being a solid actor in his other performances is an odd choice to play King Wrynn. He does an ok job but he doesn’t exude any authority and just ends up looking like a cosplayer dressing up as a king. The Queen, Lady Taria who is played by Ruth Nagga is also a bland character in my opinion that doesn’t add much to the movie.
 
Gul'dan is the big bad sorcerer of the film.

Gul’dan is the big bad sorcerer of the film.

Warcraft is a solid representation of the popular franchise thanks to its impressive visuals; gritty action set pieces and some good performances. However the experience is also diluted with pacing issues and uneven character development, which ultimately harms the experience. There’s definitely room for a sequel, which I believe it deserves, as I would love to revisit the world of Azeroth. Die-hard fans of the Warcraft series will enjoy this one; non-fans might have a harder time.

 
 RATING: – WATCH AT A DISCOUNTED PRICE 

Category: Hollywood, Reviews
Olisa Nwokedi
About The Author
- Olisa is an Aberystwyth University law graduate and Fordham University School of Law Masters graduate who was admitted into the Nigerian Bar in July 2016. He enjoys playing and watching rugby, writing, watching movies, playing video-games and Shark wrestling.......... that last part was fiction.