Starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Ben Schnetzer
“Stupid”, that’s usually non-video game playing viewers response to movies based on video games. Warcraft looks no different with its CGI heavy introduction into yet another fantasy franchise. Then you see the cast which includes actors that have all made strides in independent film, not to mention director Duncan Jones whose films Moon and Source Code certainly challenged their respective genres. Hitman, Need for Speed, Resident Evil; all films based on stories that originated from a gaming console. You can trace the origin of video game adaptations all the way back to 1993 when Super Mario Bros. debuted and became an embarrassment. Things have not improved much, Tomb Raider (2001) is still probably the only one worth remembering. Warcraft is a melting pot of all franchises rolled into one sloppy mess.
King Llane Wrynn (Cooper) says he doesn’t know where captured half breed Garona (Patton) comes from, and that he knows every race on the map that hovers above his palace hall. Garona, who is part orc and part human, begins to explain how the orc race is dying and have used a portal to enter the world called Azeroth. Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) is the green skinned orc commanding what he calls “the horde” to dominate the human race. Durotan (Toby Kebbell) is one of the most respected orc tribe leaders, his wife Draka gives birth the moment they cross into Azeroth, starting a new generation of orcs. It becomes increasingly clear to Durotan and those who follow him, their leader Gul’dan is the source of their races recent downfall. Durotan will risk death, teaming up with humans to save his own people from destruction.
Not intended to entertain or impress anyone without knowledge of the source material.
Jones (David Bowie’s son) takes a giant leap from small indie films to a massive three figure summer blockbuster franchise. The smartest thing he brings to this video game adaptation is re-writing the script to give equal screen time to both the human and orc narrative. With that in mind, Warcraft is certainly not intended to entertain or impress anyone without knowledge of the source material. Audience’s often complain about fantasy epics being broken into various installments due to such extensive details and dense storytelling elements. Yet here we see what happens when so much material is shoved into one film. Warcraft, understanding it will live or die as a franchise based on the reception it receives, storms through battles, characters, wars, relationships, all while eluding that there is much more story if ticket buyers want it.
They fly around on animals that look like Hagrid’s pet in Harry Potter. The orcs clearly get their name from Tolkien’s Middle Earth series, while one of Warcraft’s “guardians” (aka wizards) borrows his green cloak from Frodo and Foster is rocking the Jared Leto look with a Gandalf attitude. Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, John Carter, all these fantasies lend something to Warcraft. When they run out of fantasies to steal from they set their eyes on The Bible as the future of the franchise floats down the Nile. “This war is only the beginning,” they say. You don’t need Garona to translate that into “sequel based on success” to understand it’s deeper meaning. I will say what saves Warcraft from being a complete toilet flush is its willingness to explore death and sacrifice with characters one assumes are in for the long haul.
Uninterested in serving anyone but fans of the video game who won’t mind that it borrows and steals from every mainstream franchise known to man.