REVIEW — “Warcraft”
In attempt to duplicate the unexpected success of the superhero genre, studios everywhere are dipping their feet in the water of different genres and source materials. The video game genre has been toyed with for quite some time now with very little success; both financially and critically. From “Super Mario Brothers” to “Mortal Kombat,” studios never seem to learn The Golden Rule. Well, one of them at least – we live, we die, and that ALL video game movies suck. But is there a chance that Universal and acclaimed director Duncan Jones have course corrected destiny? Is “Warcraft” truly the best video game movie to date? I’ll put it like this.. claiming “Warcraft” to be the best video game movie to date is like trying to find Uwe Boll’s best film. It’s definitely the best film that this genre has had to offer to date, but with that being said it is still a loud, incoherent, CGI-fueled train wreck that proves not everything is fit to be a feature length film.
I’ll give credit where credit is due; Duncan Jones is definitely passionate about this source material. You can feel his love for the world and mythology in each and every scene. I’ve never played the games, but I can easily see fans finding great joy in seeing something they love come to life in a giant spectacle such as this. However, for people with no prior knowledge about “Warcraft”, be prepared for two hours of confusion. All the magic and politics are left cold in an already muddled, and uninteresting, script that digs to the absolute bottom of the barrel to grasp every cliche you’ve ever seen in the fantasy genre. For a concept that is so intriguing, and a genre that is so rarely tackled, this film takes absolutely no unexpected turns despite having a fresh look and concept at hand.
Visually speaking, the film is impressive. Speaking only on the visuals and how they are in their own merits, I was impressed by how detailed the Orc’s were and how lived in the forests and lands felt. It made me believe that I was in this world, and that is one of the highest compliments I can give to a film that is reliant on how it builds its world. With that being said, they don’t entirely mesh well with the real breathing humans that are on-screen, and that’s a problem considering that half of this movie is about the humans. It only makes matters worse when all the performances in the film are pretty mediocre at best. Paula Patton, Ruth Negga, and Dominic Cooper deserve better. I think Ben Foster is a solid actor, but he’s totally miscast here and I never believed him as this character. The one and only saving grace is Toby Kebbell, who plays the lead Orc, Durotan. The script doesn’t give him a whole lot of original content to work with, but Kebbell gives an astounding motion capture performance that has layered emotion and personality. He was the only character I liked returning to in a film that just wouldn’t end.
I had fun with one or two of the action sequences in this, especially surrounding the Orc’s, but everything feels so inconsequential and cold with no stakes. There’s no character that you truly care about, and no story that has the slightest bit of intrigue. Even when bodies hit the floor and characters go in different directions, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t hit you on any personal level. This is a film completely reliant on nostalgia and personal love that fans will have before even buying a ticket, and, to an extent, that’s perfectly fine. However, considering Marvel has done an arguably fantastic job at creating its mythology for modern audiences who’ve never picked up a comic in their life – I have to believe “Warcraft” could have been an actual film with a coherent story, compelling characters, or even a damn’ personality. What it ends up being is nothing but two hours of showcasing visuals, gifting fan service to gamers, and setting up relationships and plot points to be followed up in an inevitable sequel, as opposed to crafting a genuinely compelling film on its own merits. Not everything needs to be a feature length film. 2/5.