Warcraft is the most recent video game film (until Assassins Creed anyway) and is directed by Duncan Jones and based on the popular Warcraft video games of the same name in which warring factions of Orcs come together, fleeing their dying lands led by Goldan, the fallen, in search of better ones which leads them to clash with humans in the kingdom of Azeroth. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbel, Robert Kazinsky.
Warcraft had a lot of hype and high hopes riding on it and a lot to live up to in terms of adaptation of the lore and game world from fans of the game I imagine but looking at it not as Warcraft fan but as just as a film fan, I think it does a pretty decent job of standing on its own as a decent enough summer blockbuster. Even if you’re not familiar with the locations, characters, magic etc of the lore, you do get guided into things, the Green orcs – more aggressive and bad, the Brown ones are more reasonable, the humans are good (mosty) and want to protect their kingdom but importantly you really don’t need to understand every in and out of Warcraft to understand the Good Vs Evil story, with some added nuance.
The plot is engaging right off the bat, quickly setting up the context of the film and its characters that are distinct and individual, although they make look the same on the surface, the Orcs for example have infighting and different personality traits and also visually look great, with some excellent use of mannerisms and expressiveness in some of them. While other visual aspects in the film also look really good from the magic effects to the high octane set pieces and the action is great with the spice that is the fantasy setting, towering Orcs, giant wolves, Griffins and magic make the fights a bit more interesting than a clash of swords and shields between two armies.
The story lays things outs simply enough and a little hand holding doesn’t hurt, even with exposition here and there though if you’re not a Warcraft fan, you may be wondering what X location or X random word that was just said is but that’s sort of to be expected coming into a world with years of story and lore. Exposition can’t really occur without mouthpieces/characters – and the characters are actually quite fleshed out and engaging to varying degrees, not all being completely good or completely evil, some have back stories that have bled into their presents and nuances that make them interesting, from the Guardian to Lothar. And this may come as an interesting surprise to you if you went into the film expecting a mindless, by the numbers blockbuster, the casting is also pretty solid by the way with some good voice acting for the Orcs and great fits for Lothar (Travis Fimmel), King Lane (Dominic Cooper), Garona (Paula Patton) and especially with Guardian Medivh (Ben Foster).
I say especially Ben Foster as he’s really grown into a great character actor and relishes the role with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, bringing some interesting interaction between himself, Lothar and other characters, there’s also a nice dashing of levity/humour in places which helps to lighten the mood and keep things light in a plot with some dark themes, from class-ism to mass immigration to going against your own beliefs for the greater good. Warcraft,
while not ground breaking is a huge leap in the right direction for video game films with an engaging story, a good set of characters and it stands on its own as a decent film with several fun, enjoyable aspects to it, it’s a good first film if it’s the start of a franchise and I’d love to see what may come next.
. Has some fantastic visuals, especially with the Orcs
. Brilliant, logical casting choices with some good performances
. Interesting, nuanced characters, themes and plot directions