Warcraft – or to give it its full title Warcraft: The Beginning – is an ambitious and beautiful movie ruined by an incomprehensible plot and even worse pacing.
Based on the gaming franchise of the same name, Warcraft tells the story of two groups, the Orcs of Draenor and the Human kingdoms of Azeroth, as both sides are drawn into war by a menacing and demonic third party.
Despite the growing conflict between the orcs and humans, there’s still hope, in the form of Garona (Paula Patton), a half-orc half-human, and her allies, Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), King Wyrnn (Dominic Cooper) and the noble Frostwolf chief, Durotan (Toby Kebbell), who aim to forge a peace between the two races.
Whisking us off to the fantastical and gorgeous world of Azeroth is director Zowie Bowie Duncan Jones, the mind behind one of my favourite films of the last decade, Moon, so it’s with some disappointment that I say Warcraft fails as a film.
Now, that’s not to say that this is an abomination on the level of other video game adaptations. In fact, I’d argue that it’s one of the most faithful adaptations ever, and there’s an awful lot to like in Warcraft.
The VFX work in this movie was incredible, bringing the world of Warcraft to life in unbelievable style. Of particular note is the work done on the Orcs, who feel like living breathing characters instead of flat CGI constructions.
Adding to the Orcs’ believability is the fantastic acting work of the principal cast, both those playing the creatures and those reacting to them, as they add an extra level of believability to the green-skins.
As a fan of the games, in particular World of Warcraft, I also got an awful lot out of the way characters moved around the world, and it was nice to see areas of the world where I’ve spent hours of my life (seriously, fuck you Tarren Mill) on the big screen.
But the film has a problem. A massive problem, in fact…
For years, gamers have sworn blind that if the suits in Hollywood would just adapt their beloved games faithfully then they wouldn’t be so terrible. Well, here you go ‘nerds,’ you got what you wanted. Behold the faithful adaptation in all its terrible glory – an incomprehensible mess.
Seriously, have you ever asked a three-year-old to explain the UK parliamentary system to you? Of course you haven’t, that’d be ridiculous. But I’d wager they could manage a more coherent story than we got in this film.
The thing is, as a fan of the games, I’ve played Warcraft one, two, three, plus the expansions, plus the MMO, and read the books, comics and all the other peripheral bullshit that comes with it.
I know Warcraft and this is Warcraft – I just don’t think people are going to like it.
That’s because your average punter isn’t invested in this world, they haven’t read Warcraft: The Last Guardian or World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde, all they want to see is a complete and compelling story, and this film fails to deliver.
It’s a mess. Thank Christ one of the characters could teleport, that way you could use it to excuse the awkward jump cuts in both storytelling and editing.
Completing this compliment sandwich, I can say that as a fan of the lore of Warcraft I loved that they stuck (almost) to the story of the original games, and its Game of Thrones style unpredictability may entertain some, but I think for the majority of viewers this film is going to disappoint.
All in all, as a Warcraft fan I loved the film, but as a film viewer I thought it was weak.