WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING (USA/12A/123mins)
Directed by Duncan Jones. Starring Ruth Negga, Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell
THE PLOT: Before Orcs and Humans were constantly at war, before their races had ever even met, Orc Cheiftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) knew that the Orc world – Draenor – was dying. With the help of some incredibly dark magic, the Orcs find a new world to call their own. The trouble is that this world – Azeroth – is already inhabited by humans, and is a world the humans are not willing to give up on just yet.
THE VERDICT: Based on the wildly popular gaming franchise, ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ walks onto screens already fully formed, but rather inaccessible to those of us who have not played the games. In trying to bring in too much of the source material, ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ goes from loving homage to bloated mess.
The cast of ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ are really fighting a losing battle from the moment they step on screen; most of them are criminally underused – step forward Ruth Negga – and the rest are playing characters that are underdeveloped and one dimensional, leaving the audience unclear as to just who they should be rooting for. The cast features Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell and Daniel Wu.
Screenwriters Duncan Jones and Charles Leavitt obviously have huge respect for the Warcraft franchise and all that entails, but this is where the problems with the film begin to arise. Where most video game movies seem to wilfully ignore their source material, Warcraft seems to try to cram 20 years of gaming history into just two hours on screen, meaning there is simply too much going on on screen. Add to this some rather mystifying edits that leave the characters jumping through the story, pacing speeding up and slowing down and some attempts at comedy that do not always work, and Warcraft goes from loving homage to something else entirely.
As director, Duncan Jones seems to have bitten off more than he can chew with this CG heavy fantasy epic. The performances are fine for the most part – with some actors faring better than others – but it is hard for the audience to root for characters that we know little about, and since none of the characters in Warcraft are fully fleshed out, this is a real problem. As mentioned, the pacing of the film is an incredible mess, with Warcraft feeling as though it was cut down from over 4 or 5 hours long, with edits being made seemingly indiscriminately, with little regard for story. Add to this some terrible CGI and patchy attempts at comedy, and ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ is simply an overly bloated, loud, ugly mess.
In all, ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ is a film that struggles under the weight of too much source material, a screenplay that tells the audience little of the characters or the reasons for war, and an edit that makes the pacing of the film bloated, messy and overly long. Duncan Jones was not the most obvious man for the job, and now it is clear that ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ is a film that simply swallowed up the good intentions of his director.
RATING: 1/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Warcraft: The Beginning - Review
1.0Bore Craft!
  • Zane Briska

    1 rly ?… not buying it… then why is this film dominating in Germany?

    • Zane Briska

      all the non English speaking critics like this movie
      feels like the review wants to get English speaking critics credit

  • filmbuff2011

    The history of videogame-to-film adaptations is a battlefield littered with bloody corpses. The world of passive film is a very different beast to interactive gaming. Many filmmakers have tried to crack this conundrum. The hope with Warcraft: The Beginning was that talented Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones would be the one to finally crack it. Sadly, he’s missed it – by a mile.

    In the land of Azeroth, people live in peace with the kingdom headed by King Llane (Dominic Cooper). His friend and right-hand man Anduin (Travis Fimmel) is tasked with dealing an emerging threat: an invasion of orcs coming through a mystical gate into their universe. The orc horde have come because their world is dying and they need somewhere new to live. They don’t come in peace, but to conquer. Orc Durotan (Toby Kebbell) believes otherwise, thinking that peace with the humans may be possible and that they can co-exist. Half-breed orc Garona (Paula Patton) acts as the go-between for the two sides, though her exact loyalties are uncertain. With war on the horizon, wizard and guardian Medivh (Ben Foster) must try and stop more orcs coming through the gate. But it may be too late…

    This reviewer has no knowledge of the Warcraft videogame. Viewing it from the objective perspective of a general fan of fantasy films, one wonders if the film was made squarely with Warcraft fans in mind. Jones makes little attempt to fill out backstory or even a prologue and just plunges you into this world straight away. Few concessions are made for a newcomer, which leaves a lot to be desired. The main plot itself is relatively straightforward and comes in delineated descriptions like peace/war, friend/foe, known/unknown, conflict/resolution etc. Most of the scenes crossover into these descriptions, with Jones tugging at audience loyalties. The orcs are intelligent, but like General Zod in Man Of Steel they want to rebuild and mould an existing world as their own. It makes for confusing viewing, not knowing who to side with.

    Other issues exist outside the script by Jones, Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen. The performances are all pitched too high, with the actors taking their characters too seriously (that’s what you get when you cast otherwise excellent Method actor Foster). There are some parallels here with The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, but at least J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson knew when to leaven doom-laden situations with some humour and a touch of humanity. That’s sorely lacking here, making Warcraft: The Beginning feel like a poor man’s take on it. The CGI characters are leaden and unconvincing too, with huge rubbery orcs that come across as lumbering and bulky. There’s little sense of face-to-face interaction, even though Kebbell has performed motion capture before in the recent Planet Of The Apes films. Female roles are underwritten, with Ruth Negga particularly wasted with only a few lines.

    Warcraft: The Beginning isn’t a complete disaster though. Jones does show some visual flair and some control over the visual effects, now that he’s working on a much bigger budget. But it also seems that his directorial touches, like having characters with distinct individuality, have been lost amid the clash-bang-wallop of this world. This film is more of a case of preaching to the converted, so there’s not much here to offer a newcomer. If anything, it recalls the mediocre likes of the Dungeons & Dragons film. The search for the great videogame-to-film adaptation continues. Maybe the upcoming Assassin’s Creed, from the team that made the superb recent take on Macbeth, will crack this difficult nut. **