The parade of the video game adaptations marches ever onward, with the third addition this year out in cinemas today. Warcraft takes on Blizzard’s ever popular franchise and adapts one of its novels to the big screen, looking at the rise of the Orcish Horde, and the humans response to their invasion.
The film is headed by a truly fantastic cast, Travis Fimmel takes on the role of protagonist Lothar, one of the King’s knights who is doing everything he can to uncover where the Orcs are coming from as well as trying to stop them before they destroy the world, and Toby Kebbel steps into the shoes of his counterpart Durotan, an Orcish leader trying to find a better land for his tribe and family. Filling out the rest of the cast include the likes of Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga as the King and Queen, Robert Kazinsky as Orgrim (Durotan’s second in command) and Paula Patton as Garona, a half-orc who is attempting to find her place int he world.
With such a wealth of acting talent, it’s such a shame that the film itself fails to be anything more than formulaic and predictable. In trying to show both sides to the story, there isn’t enough time to flesh out either side, leaving rather flat, stereotypical characters. Whilst there are moments spent trying to make the Orcs seem less war-like, it ultimately leads to confusion when you can hardly remember what was said the last time, or whether it was mindless platitudes that make things seem more profound, but falls apart when looked at too closely. The film was adapted from two separate novels, each one portraying one side of the story, and one can’t help but feel that the film itself would maybe have worked better if the two stories had been split as well to spend more time with each of the characters.
Whilst the story is a let down, the visuals are something to behold. Despite swimming in the same Orange and Teal colour correction as numerous other films out there, the beauty of the settings is incredible, and the special effects used by the post-production houses for the magic spells is even better. On top of all that, the CGI Orcs are lovingly rendered, and appear to be wholly unique, the motion-capture technology helping convey the emotions and movements that lets them fit in seamlessly with their surroundings. It’s not enough to save the film, but it certainly pulls it from the pile of failure to give it a chance to stand on its own legs.
Ultimately, Warcraft is not a film that will define the fantasy genre in the way that Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter did. It’s a shame to see such a talented cast and director wasted on middling fare, but I daresay it will garner enough of a following from fans of the games to warrant a sequel which can hopefully address some of these problems. There’s nothing wrong with this movie, but that doesn’t mean to say there’s plenty of right within its frames.
WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING IS OUT IN CINEMAS NOW!