A Cold War? A 60 Second Review of Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)

“I’ve led thousands of warriors into battle, but I fear being a father.”

I’m one of the many reviewers to admit that I have not put a single digital foot into the world of Warcraft. Not that this should excuse the film if it washes over the heads of the uninitiated such as I, considering the amazing job Lord of the Rings did at immersing every viewer into the world of Middle Earth.

The plot seems to be that Orcs are from a world that is dying from an evil magic called ‘The Fel’, so an evil guy brings all the tribes of their world together to create ‘The Horde’. He then convinces them to invade the human world Azeroth, to make it their home. How? By building a portal of course. Believe me, this is just the basic premise, and it gets way too confusing way too quickly.

What I liked…

Tries to be funny, and at times almost is. It admirably  seeks the natural wit and humour of Marvel and the useful mid-battle levity of Lord of the Rings. But unfortunately it doesn’t have the cast and the direction necessary to pull it off, despite some early moments that lifted the corner of my mouth.

I liked Ben Foster as the hammy magician Medivh. He seems to be the only one willing to time his lines correctly, albeit his character is as paper thin as the others. Gul’dan was pretty evil as well, although CGI has to be close to perfection to deliver a true likeness in an Apes world.

Action scenes actually were not that bad. When it becomes the usual CGI mess in the bigger battles later on I did lose interest, but those early struggles had me at least looking up from my iPad a bit more.

What I disliked…

Seems to be a certain lack of focus that unhooks the viewer from the characters. This happens quite literally during battles, where I am sure the blue screen gave the director the idea that he no longer had to pay attention to what was going on in the background.

The sentimental character creation didn’t work for me. Although having an Orc that cared about family and proper ethics made a “we have a common enemy” situation that was necessary to mix the plot, it went way too far in places and ended up boring the viewer for the most part.

Whole movie quickly becomes a bit incoherent, mixed up and full of poor CGI. Although the screen writers have a lot to answer for by making it unbalanced and unfocused, I am really disappointed in Duncan Jones here. From a director that brought us the brilliant Source Code and Moon, you would expect better things. But he is still relatively new to the scene so maybe it’s a misstep only.

Shapstik Verdict: It would be very easy to insult the film and call it a childish version of other, better fantasy films. So I will. It is ridden with tired dialogue, poorly put together and lacks any tension due to bad pacing and over editing. That being said, I have seen worse films this year and there was more than one occasion when I was entertained. It has all the ingredients of a decent film, but fails where it matters the most. 4/10


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