Warcraft: The Beginning (d. Duncan Jones USA/Canada/China/Japan 2016)

Please read On Reviews for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.

Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability:   starfish starfish starfish

Technical:        starfish starfish starfish 

The video game film has had a very complex history OR better put, it has been butchered in past attempts. Resident Evil (d. Paul W. S. Anderson USA/UK/France/Germany 2002)and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (d. Simon West USA/UK/Japan/Germany 2001) both felt like I was being spat on. In recent years this genre has been expanded and given a bit more respect and decency. Yet it’s still a rather hesitant genre. Despite this rumours of Warcraft: The Beginning (d. Duncan Jones USA/Canada/China/Japan 2016) and Halo (TBC) were around for a while as some of the more successful video games that people would like to see made into films. I feel a lot of the film industry, and perhaps the world in general, frown upon video games and gamers. This is definitely changing as being a gamer is now a legitimate job. This only is starting to show just how important video games are as art form and a legitimate form of storytelling. I side on the side of video games being a much under appreciated art form so I am biased in this. I have many games that I hold truly dear to me and has also been a huge influence upon my life and… I also feel has influenced my filmmaking. So, many people, perhaps more than the industry ever thought, were excited for this film: Warcraft. That also holds with it a huge responsibility. Thoughts on this upcoming film were mixed, excited but anxious, frowned upon and embraced.

With a film that relies so much on magic, there was an expectation of CGI. The focus on the effects was almost too much. Is this going to be a The Lord of the Rings (d. Peter Jackson USA/New Zealand 200120022003) or a Mortal Kombat (d. W. S. Anderson USA 1995)? Well, the effects are pretty good but they keep a good focus. I was astonished by how they carefully ran the line between humanising and demonising. The Orcs were portrayed with a delicate understanding for the need to alienate and relate. This pared with another huge strength of the film which is essential for character so deep in make up/effects: performances. The actors expertly give heart to something that could have at worst been a block of CGI. There were a fair amount of characters so this ran the risk of falling into a weakness. Consistently they were given enough character to hold their own. You really gain a sense of the characters and feel their troubles. This helps the storyline and also understand the different races and their trials. Very important for a film that’s depicting so many worlds and species.

I felt the story though strong throughout trailed off a bit towards the end. This feels like a set up, as if the film didn’t quite want to end but offer a cliffhanger instead. The choices with some of the antagonists also helped this weakness, they weren’t given enough time to build and impact. That said you do really get a sense of where the characters are going and this helps you jump with them off the end to the next film. It’s impressive how some moments that could easily be weak or contrived they’ve managed to work into a strength. The folklore of the characters also helped with this. You gain a real sense of what they stand for and their sense of moral and ethics. This is most notable at the end.

For what could have been easily a quite a poor effort and easily descended into the cheese of B-Movie schlock, this film actually offers a lot of the most important elements of films – the heart of the characters. Without good characters comes no story, without being performed well, that pretty CGI is nothing at al. So the ability for this film to build a surrounding character around some very emotional and intriguing eyes is so very important and so telling of the films ultimate strengths.

Synopsis

The Orcs are invading the lands of Azeroth, belonging to Men, Elves and Dwarves. As these clashing races collide the good and bad are of both sides are brought out into the open.

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Duncan Jones

Interview with Director and Cast

Interview with Travis Fimmel

World of Warcraft Trailers

Battle Won

 



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