Orcs, dwarves and elves… oh my!
It’s not Lord of the Rings - but it’s definitely worth a watch!Okay, first things first - I am not and probably never will be a fan of the game Warcraft. I have never played it and have no knowledge of the characters or anything to do with it, at all. Therefore, I will be reviewing this film as a film with no reference to the game or its accuracy in depicting anything to do with the game. The location is Azeroth, a Middle Earth of sorts divided into kingdoms and ruled by King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his Queen, Lady Taria (Ruth Negga). Aiding them in all things combat and battle related is the Queen’s brother Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). Azeroth has enjoyed peace and tranquility for many years but finds itself under threat from giant ogre like creatures: The Orcs. After devastating their homeland Draenor, the Orcs are now in search for greener pastures that can sustain their many clan folk.Led by war chief Blackhand (Clancy Brown) and a sorcerer Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) the Orcs travel through a magical portal powered by the life force of their defenceless prisoners. Once in Azeroth the Orcs set about conquering the land and taking as many human prisoners as they can find, in order to power up the portal so that Gul’dan can bring his horde of Orc warriors through into Azeroth. Forced into battle Lothar unwillingly acquires the help of Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) an apprentice wizard. Together they seek the help of Medivh (Ben Foster) the Guardian of Azeroth, a powerful wizard who has been secluded in his tower for many years. With the help of the King’s troupes Lothar, Khadgar and Medivh must work to understand what these enormous creatures are and how to stop them before it’s too late.
Leader of the Frostwolf clan is Durotan (Toby Kebbell), husband to Draka (Anna Galvin) and father to a newborn son. It’s Durotan who realises that the dark power Gul’dan has been harnessing will affect their new homeland with the same life draining devastation as Draenor. Forced to betray his fellow Orcs, Durotan decides that he must try and reason with the humans if his family and own kind are ever to be able to make a new start on Azeroth. Thrust into the middle of the battle is Garona (Paula Patton) a human/Orc halfbreed, freed from the clutches of Gul’dan by Durotan. Garona makes her own allegiance with the humans to help stop the Orcs in return for acceptance into Azeroth.
Director Duncan Jones has clearly gone to town with the use of CGI, ensuring that Azeroth looks appropriately opulent and luscious and the dying world of Draenor looking suitably desolate and void of all life bar the Orcs. With a hit already synonymous with his name (Moon) Jones has a lot to live up to and though Warcraft: The Beginning might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think he’s done a pretty good job. It’s a very basic story when you cut through the CGI and booming soundtrack. It’s not overly complicated and for those with no knowledge of Warcraft it’s easy to follow. Visually it’s an enjoyable watch with a couple of great battle sequences. The CGI used for the Orcs is especially fun to watch - donned with dreadlocks, piercings and various skulls for accessories, they really look the part.
An excessive use of CGI makes Warcraft: The Beginning a visual feast for the eyes
As for the acting, in general everyone plays their part well. Kebbell is good as Durotan, although you wouldn’t have guessed it was him, brining a softer perhaps more sensual side to the Orcs, that you might not have thought could exist. Fimmel as Lothar is good - there are already comparisons to Aragon from Lord of The Rings, which is understandable, however apart from vaguely looking the same, Fimmel brings more of a light hearted humour to the table and for me, was far more likeable and watchable. There wasn’t a huge amount of character development and this perhaps did prevent some empathy for the characters however, if there is a follow up, I should imagine that they will delve further into the past of Garona and explore the relationship between her and Lothar.
I went into the cinema fully prepared to hate this film (this sort of film isn’t really my bag) but surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go out and purchase any 8-sided dice, but if there is a sequel I probably will go and see it. Even though it’s a fairly simple story there are a few (thankfully) unexpected moments in the film just when you think you know what’s going to happen. Having read a few reviews of Warcraft: The Beginning it seems to have received quite a negative response and I am not entirely sure why. Okay it might be a bit overkill for some people and as I mentioned the backstories weren’t as developed as they could have been, but, this is The Beginning.
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