The peaceful realm of Azeroth is standing on the precipice of war and destruction as its ways of life are threatened by legions of invaders, orc warriors to be precise. These orcs are leaving their dying home world to colonize another. A magical doorway, or a portal opens. This joins the two worlds. One race faces destruction whilst the other faces extinction. With both peoples facing annihilation, human warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and orc clan leader Durotan (Toby Kebbell) find themselves on an unstoppable collision course, an epic clash of clans which will ultimately reveal the fates of both worlds.
Warcraft is basically budget Lord Of The Rings with influences from Merlin and Harry Potter yet it works really well despite being a CGI-filled fantasy blockbuster. It’s CGI heavy but it doesn’t hurt the eyes. It’s actually really refreshing and it looks great. I went in with the mind of a naive non-gameplayer and I left feeling glad that I watched it. I enjoyed it immensely. The movie is as fantastical as it gets. Orcs from a dying world of Draenor find a portal to the peaceful and unsuspecting Azeroth. Before long, they are in a conflict with its human, elf and dwarfish inhabitants.
From the start, the film focuses on its characters. It’s strange to start proceedings with an Orc couple rather than with film’s stars Travis Fimmel (Vikings) and Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter). Durotan and Draca (Anna Galvin) are expecting parents, and worrying about the fate of their clan. Their clan is their family. That’s as human as it gets. After their quest begins, we are introduced to Fimmel and their side of things. Fimmel’s Lothar is second to Cooper’s King Llane. The kingdom is confused to find sings of uninvited guests, who bear the mark of ‘The Fel’. The Fel is a dark magic that controls its users as well as its victims and surrounding. This magic ultimate kills anything it touches and controlled by savage orc chieftain Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) who wants to rule Azeroth for himself.
The geographical visualization and characterization of races and places are what squashes Warcraft to begin with. It’s not the quality of them, it’s the quantity. There’s too many to fit into a two-hour picture. We have a wizard’s apprentice called Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) and half-orc slave Garon (Paula Patton) who turns out to be Lothar’s love interest. In addition to those, we have The Guardian (Ben Foster) who is basically a badass wizard who gets corrupted and seems to be stealing everyone else’s XP when he makes a spectacle of himself with his mad magic skills. There are many more key players. Quite frankly, it’s too much. Director Duncan Jones had a challenge to keep everyone relevant and it falls flat. The orc dialogue is sometimes muffled from the deep voices so it’s hard to hear what they’re saying. It’s small things like that which make this a good movie and not a great one.
As the movie continues, it changes from 99.99% CG experience to something that you become emotionally invested in. I thought the cinematography was quality in the battle scenes in conjunction to the musical score, many thanks to Ramin Djawadi (Game Of Thrones). Jones’ forte is the source material, inspired by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and its themes in the movie are something that we can all relate to. For example, how we protect one another for the good of all; whether that be in a friendship, a brotherhood or parents and children. Also, separated lovers and the heartbreak that occurs when the people closest to you metaphorically stab you in the back. The story does a George R.R Martin on us. They kill thought-to-be key characters without turning shade. The fallout is Garona coming to steal the fallen’s XP. The movie ends well, and ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ is a good franchise starter leaving plenty of room for sequels in the future.
In conclusion, it’s a good movie with things that could have been done better. It’s a learning curve for the creative team if they decide to start a film franchise. I really got invested in the characters during the second act. There were great fight sequences despite bits being clunky at times but I think I may have been persuaded to trying my hand at the video games as well.