Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Daniel Wu, Clancy Brown, Ben Foster, Rob Kazinsky, Ben Schnetzer
Plot: Based on the popular video game. Because their world is dying, orcs under the leadership of the ruthless Gul'dan open a portal to the human world of Azeroth and invade it. Alliance commander Lothar leads the defence of the kingdom of Stormwind with the help of young mage Khadgar, who learns that dark magic known as Fel is being used by both Gul'dan and someone in Azeroth to make the invasion possible. Meanwhile, an orc clan leader called Durotan is aware of Gul'dan's dark magic and wants to stop it.
Review: Fantasy films are tough to make, video game films even more so. For every Lord Of The Rings, there are two failed fantasy films like The Golden Compass or Eragon, and for every Resident Evil film, there are two failed video game films like Hitman or Street Fighter. So Warcraft, based on the hit video game, and very much a fantasy film, has the deck stacked against it from the word go. Personally I have never played the game, but I can already tell that this film will appeal more to players than non-players.
It's quite obvious that the film has a huge scope with a very wide universe, and thus would need a Lord Of The Rings style of approach to make it work. Director Duncan Jones must have put a lot of work into the film, judging from the way it looks, but one feels that the studio must have heavily edited it since a lot of the story doesn't make sense for at least the first half of the film. LOTR needed five to seven minutes to explain their world at the start before Frodo begins his story. But here, we are given an oh so brief glimpse into the Warcraft universe before Jones plunges us deep into the orcs' invasion of Azeroth.
The key characters are swiftly introduced with quickly explained backstories, barely enough time for the audience to digest on who's who and why they exist, before the story keeps going. For the first half or so, I was struggling to understand what was going on, and how to differentiate the orcs from each other. It's only when Durotan the orc meets up with Lothar and King Llane to discuss a truce that Warcraft feels like it's starting to gel and come together. However the film drops the ball towards the finish line, just when things were starting to look up. There is a scene where Lothar and Khadgar battle a possessed wizard and his stone golem, which is probably the best action sequence in the entire film, and after that you'd think things will get better, but it doesn't. A couple of sacrifices are made and the film ends with a wide opening for a sequel. It certainly should end better than that.
The cast just manages to scrape through with their performances unfortunately, being somewhere between good and passable. Travis Fimmel (Lothar), Paula Patton as half-orc Garona, Ben Schnetzer's Khadgar and Toby Kebbell's motion capture orc Durotan are the main standouts, but nothing to write home about.
But there are some good things to mention, like the costumes, CGI especially magic sequences and Ramin Djawadi's music score. But the over reliance of green screen instead of practical use of locations work against the film somewhat.
As of right now, Warcraft has made a killing at the Chinese box office despite doing poorly at home. Will there be a sequel? It obviously needs one, but one wonders if a sequel can repair the damage the studio has already done here. (6/10)