Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)

4:02 AM

Two Worlds. One Destiny. 
This review contains Spoilers.
 Warcraft: The Beginning is directed by Duncan Jones (Source Code, Moon) and stars Travis Fimmel (Vikings, The Baytown Outlaws), Ben Foster (Lone Survivor, 3:10 to Yuma), Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Paula Patton (Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Precious) and Dominic Cooper (Need for Speed, Mamma Mia!). "The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home". Warcraft aims to be the first film that gives films based on video games a good name....can it break the reputation of the genre?


Warcraft: The Beginning is a film I am truly disappointed to say I liked. I had rock bottom expectations for this film and was actually prepared to slate it afterwards. However, this film reminded me of why I like fantasy films - it has been a while since a fantasy film that is the first film in the series to open up the world has been realised and I loved how immersive Warcraft was. This film definitely has it flaws but I think it is certainly a good start in breaking the poor reputation that video game movies have. 

I don't really have many clear feelings towards the acting in this film - it wasn't bad and I actually think everyone did a pretty good job. However, I don't really remember any of the performances so they they weren't that great - I think this isn't helped by how crowded the film is - for a film that is opening up a world and introducing characters, I think it introduces slightly too many. I thought the voice acting of the orcs was pretty good. Dominic Cooper was possibly the weakest performer - I just don't really like him as an actor anyway as I think he has quite a cheesy style. Paula Patton, Travis Fimmel and Ben Foster all had pretty solid performances even if some of their characters were a little muddled. 

I thought the film was quite visually impressive. It did take me a while to get used to the appearance of the orcs which did look a little silly at first but I think similarly to The Jungle Book with the realistic animals talking - it took me a while to get used to the weird appearance of these creatures. I also thought the magic was visually stunning - it was really nice to see magic return to the big screen and I thought the visuals were really well done when magic was involved. I thought the film did lack interaction between humans and orcs which would have showcased the visual effects a little more but I suppose the lack of interaction was mainly down to the narrative only setting things up. I thought the camera work at some points was also very good - the film begins with the camera tracking one of the characters as if it was a video game, this similarly happens at the end as well - I thought this was pretty cool. I would say it isn't worth paying the extra price for 3D though as I didn't think it added much to the film. 

If you are a gamer of Warcraft, you will probably like this film even more as I am sure there are many references throughout that gamers will appreciate. 

The biggest flaws in the film are found in its narrative - I think the film is just so complicated and it is trying to do too many things. I think there are too many characters and too many plots - you don't really find out how the orcs and humans are clearly linked until the final half an hour. I just found the whole film pretty confusing and I wouldn't be able to simply tell you what it was about. The film does create a world though that I would love to continue exploring and I do hope we get another film. 

I was most impressed with the twist - even though many will probably see it coming but it was just a really good twist. The fact that Medivh ended up being a villain was a really cool twist and it was one of those twists that fantasy films are known for. It was done really well as it was hinted at throughout the film and only came into effect towards the end. I also though the visuals to do with Medivh when he did become a villain were pretty scary. Speaking of villains, I really liked both of the villains in this film - Medivh and the orc villain. I thought they both seemed quite scary and that they have the ability to do terrifying things. I liked how the villains were not killed off in this film as well as it suggests they will be on-going throughout this universe. Speaking of killings, I was really surprised that the film killed off many major characters in the first instalment - this makes me think these characters were only there to set up the story for upcoming important characters. The main orc that was killed off was truly surprising as I thought he was going to become one of the main characters in future films. However, this makes me think that was just a prequel story for the new baby who will then become the main character - did Warcraft waste a whole film setting up the future or was it time well spent?

Warcraft was a surprisingly solid film. I was so ready to hate this film but I actually found quite a lot to like in it. Even though the acting was nothing special and the narrative was way too complicated, Warcraft did create a world that I would like to continue exploring. The film may also just be a big set-up film for future films so I don't really think we've seen anything in comparison to what this series can offer (That is a good thing). The visuals were impressive, especially where magic was involved and the twist was quite effective. This really is the beginning of what looks to be a promising franchise. 

3.5 STARS
B-

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