Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)


Director: Duncan Jones
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Ruth Negga

Draenor, the homeworld of the orcs, is dying. All the clans are united under a warlock named Gul'dan (Daniel Wu), who opens a gate for them all to go through. They land on the peaceful realm of Azeroth, which they intend to colonise. Durotan (Toby Kebbell) only wants what's best for his people, especially his family. On the other side, Lothar (Travis Fimmel) fights to protect his people and his kingdom from the invading forces.

With each cinematic adaptation of a video game, a stigma is attached pertaining to its quality. So many viewers feel burnt by the Super Mario Bros and Tomb Raider films, the likelihood of a good video game picture seems more distant with each release. The attachment of Duncan Jones seemed to be a blessing, considering the quality of his previous two films, which makes it all the more unfortunate how surprisingly uninteresting the result is. The fantasy tale is delivered in such a generic and joyless manner, it feels like an uphill battle to finish.

In all fairness, it's admirable Jones attempts to show the Orcs point-of-view, as opposed to merely painting them all as villainous. The dual perspective would've been a major benefit, had the film left it at that. Instead, the perspective is split with multiple other characters, leaving a scattershot approach that fails to deliver adequate enough screentime or development to any of the sprawling ensemble. Not helping things are the cast, who each manage to be shockingly bland, miscast (especially looking at you, Ben Foster), or in the cast of those portraying the Orcs, oft unintelligible. No matter how many one-liners or looks Travis Fimmel shoots, he can't make his character more than a second rate Aragorn, whose charisma has been surgically removed.

It's worth admitting, the effects are well utilised in bringing the Orcs to life. They prove to be the least uninteresting storyline in an overcooked script rife with painful dialogue. There were also battles packed with decent moments and somewhat intriguing turns in the story, but nothing which makes the next instalment a must see.

The temptation is there to label Warcraft: The Beginning as Lord of the Rings-lite, but taking in mind the overall quality, a more accurate label is The Hobbit-lite. A fantasy picture smothered in clichés and lacking performances gone into underdeveloped characters, The Beginning subtitle seems more like a threat.