Boy it’s been a bad year for fantasy cinema in America. Time and time again fantasy films have failed for the most part, and “Warcraft” is one of those casualties. I admittedly have no experience with “Warcraft,” but for those unaware, it’s based on a massive multiplayer role playing game that’s become so popular it’s almost a way of life for most people. It’s a game so terrifyingly addictive, that a cousin of mine even pulled me aside once warning me not to play lest I be sucked in. Now that their Orc world has died, the orc shaman Gul’dan has used dark magic to open up a portal to the human realm of Azeroth.
Once a peaceful land ruled by man, the Orc army known as The Horde, now plan to populate the world and rule over it as their new home led by the noble Orc warrior Durotan. Teamed with a female half Orc named Garona, the human army of Azeroth plan to go to war with them, led by fierce warrior Lothar, their King Llane, and two wizards. Events spiral out of control though when Durotan begins rethinking the invasion and their leader Gul’dan, while Garona is torn between her loyalties to the noble humans and her people. While I’m still convinced video games just won’t translate in to a good movie, “Warcraft” is still a very good time and a nice bit of escapism.
It’s a mess narrative wise, and is painfully convoluted, but often times I found myself very entertained and intrigued by the conflict of the Orc breed struggling to fight for a new world against a human race. There’s also the themes of religious corruption embedded within the giant walking statues and graphic war scenes, which probably also helped enhance the experience. I won’t argue “Warcraft” is a masterpiece, since it tries and often fails to reach “Game of Thrones” levels of drama and intrigue. In the attempts to be just as adult in its character dynamic and ideas about xenophobia, and warfare, it becomes tough to follow.
The first half hour has a lot of information to disperse to the general broader audience, and I literally had to sit at attention to hopefully absorb what exposition the writers were trying to relay to people that have never been in to the digital world of Azeroth. Much to my surprise I cared about the characters and conflicts. I wanted to see sword wielding hero Lothar stop the impending Orc invasion, all the while uncovering the rising evil tide of his kingdom’s powerful mage. Director Duncan Jones splits the time of the film between the Orcs and humans and turns Durotan in to a very complex hero with his own ideas about what can be gained by invading Azeroth.
All the while Jones stages some fun battle sequences, including a showdown between Lothar and a murderous general in the climax. While not everyone’s performances are top notch, Travis Fimmel is great as Lothar, while Toby Kebbell does a bang up job with his motion capture performance as Durotan. It’s up in the air at the moment if “Warcraft” will continue in to a second part of its epic tale; I’m not ashamed to admit I had a good time, and should we be granted a follow up, I just may return to see how the humans win back Azeroth.