By Thomas Simpson
The relationship between video games and their big screen adaptations has been well documented. They are rarely received well by hardcore fans and causal viewers alike. When it was announced that Duncan Jones would be helming Warcraft, based on the insanely popular online game, expectations were high. Warcraft has a fiercely loyal following and Jones is a highly-acclaimed director. He, along with writers Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen, also had the various novels that have been written to draw inspiration from leaving the filmmakers with a vastly established world to play with.
When the orc homeworld of Draenor is in peril, a powerful warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) unites an army to invade the human realm of Azeroth. Durotan (Toby Kebbell), the chieftain of Frostwolf clan, is a noble orc who raises concern over Gul’dan’s dark magic, the fel. Worried about his people he hopes to form an alliance with the human King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) to ensure the uncorrupted survival of his people. The two races are rife with treachery from within that all but ensures war is inevitable.
There is no messing about with Warcraft as Jones throws us headfirst into a fantasy world of monsters and sorcery. Spells are cast as naturally as breathing with each name becoming more fantastical than the next. The pace is quick which prevents any lagging and ensures we get to the action quickly. Unfortunately there is also little depth to the setup, feeling like we’ve started a story that has been underway for some time.
The CGI is stunning with particular detail attributed to the orcs. The motion capture works wonderfully, amplifying the physical emotional traits and allowing us to invest in the orcs who aren’t portrayed as the out and out villains. The battles are excellent and brutal while carefully staying on the side of fantasy violence.
The biggest problem Warcraft faces that it’s an incomplete story. Just as Lord of the Rings spent three hours setting up a trilogy, Warcraft spends two with no guarantee that we’ll see what happens next. The US box office returns have fallen below expectation however the film’s success in China could be enough to warrant a sequel being greenlit.
Personally I hope it does. Warcraft isn’t a great movie by any means, but it’s an entertaining spectacle that provides epic clashes with an, albeit, convoluted and at times underdeveloped plot. The script may take itself too seriously but the fun is in the visuals with enough action to keep audiences interested.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.