Sunday, June 12, 2016


Movie Name: Warcraft
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Toby Kebbel, Glenn Close, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Burkely Duffield
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

After his first two strong features, "Moon" and "Source Code", director Duncan Jones, decided to tackle his first major blockbuster with an adaptation of the role-playing game "World of Warcraft" (which was released in 2004, and is itself a continuation of the universe that was first introduced in 1994 with "Warcraft: Orcs and Humans"). The film starts with the introduction of the Orcs, and the explanation that their world is dead. Their leader/wizard, has found a portal that leads the tribes to another world where they can successfully survive. Their wizard uses lethal magic that leverages the life force of captured tribes to activate an access to the portal, and also to empower some of the Orc warriors. The world they come to is named Azeroth, which has been peaceful for many years, and is ruled by loved king Wrynn, who is in turn aided by his loyal Lothar, and also by the kingdom's protector, the wizard Medivh. When the Orcs start attacking, all the different kingdoms in this particular world must come together, in order to stop this menace. Some key players in this battle are Garona, an orc/human hybrid, Khadgar, a young powerful wizard and Durotan, a chieftain from an orc clan. They all come to realize there's more to this battle than what initially any of them assumed.
The challenge to create a compelling story from an ongoing role-playing game is immense, particularly when there are so many fans throughout the world. Director Duncan Jones chose to create a film that reflects multiple influences, sadly in the end it falls very short of all that it tries to reference. There are traits of Peter Jackson's inevitable "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but also faint influences from John Boorman's "Excalibur", however any of the possible influences these interesting films could bring, eventually becomes submerged by an excess of digital effects that makes everything (and everyone) look like digital puppets. None of the characters actually manages to be sufficiently developed to be relevant - the valiant Lothar, which tries to copycat Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, is poorly brought to life by Travis Fimmel, who never knows if the whole film is campy or dramatic, since he can't decide on what type of tone to bring to the character. It's a poor casting decision, on what is otherwise an interesting array of actors, with Paula Patton trying to add some depth to a character that isn't given much to do, the same going for many characters that appear (and disappear). It's a film that has a lot of ambition, but one that needed a better screenplay with enough time to develop some of the key characters. The positive points for this film are mainly the visual effects which are impressive as is the cinematography from Simon Duggan. It's difficult to invest the attention of viewers when the characters are barely there to begin with and where the action set pieces feels as abstract and artificial as the game where its based on.