REVIEW: The Wait For A Good Video Game Movie Will Continue, ‘Warcraft’ Isn’t It

The “Warcraft” game series has been a phenomenon for nearly two decades, and for good reason. The series began as a strategy game and later became an online role-playing type in “World of Warcraft.” Since its inception, one of the driving factors of the game series was its deep, extensive lore.

While this lore makes for a good story, though, Director Duncan Jones’ attempt to turn it around for a feature length picture doesn’t quite hit the mark.

“Warcraft” starts by following a warrior race of creatures known as the orcs. The orcs, led by a warlock named Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) are in the midst of a plan to leave their dying home world by way of a portal and conquer the land of Azeroth, inhabited by humans, dwarves and elves.

As the orcs begin their conquest they become an immediate threat to the human race. In response, King Llane (Dominic Cooper) summons his best knight Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and the realm’s guardian mage Medivh (Ben Foster) to help solve the issue.

While that plot synopsis seems easy enough, “Warcraft” unfortunately becomes too messy in its execution. The pacing in the movie feels overly rushed, especially in the first act which speeds through the world building phase. As the movie goes on, the time in between action sequences is a whole lot of exposition, creating a lack of emotional engagement to what’s going on.

The movie isn’t completely empty on having serviceable moments, though. There are a few heartfelt scenes in the picture that are meaningful. For the most part, these moments come from the orc side of things, mainly with the War Chief Durotan, played by Toby Kebbell. Every time the character was on screen, the film was kicked up a few notches.

This is of course partly thanks to Kebbell’s solid performance, created both by his on point delivery and the fantastic motion capture technology. Putting it all together made for easily the best character in the whole movie.

In fact, many of the orc characters were more compelling than their human counterparts.

Lothar, for example, was a rather dull hero with much of his character arc feeling generic and predictable. Fimmel’s performance was forgettable, too, as his scenes where his character interacted with his family as well as those with his love interest were unconvincing.

The talented supporting cast didn’t help much, either. Cooper played the king character with zero charisma or energy and Foster just seemed to be a monotone figure from start to finish. It’s understandable that they were going for ‘wise old leader’ types, but their performances really needed a spark.

Providing an OK performance was Paula Patton as Garona, a half-orc character whose allegiances change over the course of the film. While Patton has some good moments, though, her character is unfortunately involved in a rushed romance.

With the word war in the title, though, a big question for this flick is ‘does it deliver on the action?’ The answer is yes. There are some exciting action sequences where audiences get to see the hulking orcs swing their hammers against the swift humans and their swords. Adding to these moments were the fantastic visuals and sounds making every blow feel real.

Credit also needs to go to the costume design, the props and the visual effects that created the various locations. These elements helped bring the world of Azeroth to life for audiences in a visual sense.

While “Warcraft” has some fun, exciting moments, though, they don’t make up for all the other flaws. As a movie, the story is too poorly rolled out with a largely lackluster group of characters. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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