REVIEW: Warcraft (2016)

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2016, Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment

Director:
Duncan Jones
Producers:
Stuart Fenegan
Alex Gartner
Thomas Tull
Charles Roven
Writers:
Charles Leavitt
Duncan Jones
Cinematography:
Simon Duggan
Editing:
Paul Hirsch

Cast:
Travis Fimmel (Anduin Lothar)
Paula Patton (Garona)
Ben Foster (Medivh)
Dominic Cooper (King Llane Wrynn)
Toby Kebbell (Durotan/Antonidas)
Ben Schnetzer (Khadgar)
Rob Kazinsky (Orgrim)
Clancy Brown (Blackhand)
Daniel Wu (Gul’dan)
Ruth Negga (Lady Taria)
Anna Galvin (Draka)
Callum Keith Rennie (Moroes)
Burkely Duffield (Callan Lothar)

The hit computer game comes to life in this adaptation that is quite promising but suffers from a major flaw in the storyline but finds redemption in its final act.

A war has become imminent as Gul’dan, the leader of the Orc warband known as the Horde, has intentions to use a portal after his world is destroyed. He intends to wreak havoc on the human worlds along with the first of many Orc clans who have joined with Gul’dan, who has the mystical power of the Fel, a dark green magic that allows him to steal life in an instant and restore life as well. The Horde ends up in the world of Azeroth, led by King Llane Wrynn, who soon hears of an evil force destroying and ravaging many villagers.

Anduin Lothar, Azeroth’s greatest warrior and the King’s brother-in-law, is sent to summon Medivh, the Guardian responsible for the protection of Azeroth. Before he does this, he is introduced to Khadgar, a young man who was slated to study the ways of the Guardian only to leave before having completed his training. Medivh begins to help the kingdom while Khadgar comes across a book with vital information on the Fel and the portal. During an ambush to find the threat, Lothar and his men are attacked by the Orcs but Lothar is able to capture Garona, a half-human, half-Orc slave. With the promise that she will have freedom, Garona decides to help out the kingdom. Meanwhile, Durotan, the leader of the Orcs’ Frostwolf Clan, begins to doubt his reasoning for engaging in this war as it affects both his wife Draka and their newborn son. When he realizes that to bring peace, Gul’dan must be stopped, he offers to help the humans destroy Gul’dan as he is the key to destroying the Fel. However, the Orcs are going to be the least of the human world’s problems as something more sinister awaits them.

Blizzard Entertainment’s popular video game series comes to life under the direction of Duncan Jones, the son of the late music legend David Bowie. Jones co-wrote the film combining elements from both the video games and novels using the film’s novel setting of Azeroth. The script takes a lot of cliches and melds them in one adventurous ride but becomes a miss in terms of one important element that was teased in the trailers. The alliance between Lothar of Azeroth and Durotan of the Frostwolf Clan ends up well, not even happening. There is a scene that shows them together, but it becomes a setup for the third and final act of the film where all is revealed. Thankfully, the third act serves as a redemption point for the film.

Vikings‘ Travis Fimmel is quite the hero as Azeroth warrior Anduin, who pretty much has the one-liners in the film but there is more to him than being the warrior. He deeply cares for his son, played by newcomer Burkely Duffield, as he is a new soldier of the Azeroth Army. Those who saw Mel Gibson’s The Patriot will know of the cliché that is bound to happen and does. Dominic Cooper brings a regal display as Azeroth King Llane Wrynn, while Ben Schnetzer is fun as Khadgar, a mage who becomes the comic relief of the film, more notably in scenes with Fimmel. As for Ben Foster, he triumphs as the guardian Medivh, who uses his magic to protect the kingdom, but finds himself like the rest of Azeroth having to face something so sinister that it affects him on a personal level.

With the exception of Paula Patton, whose conflicted character of Garona, is meant to be half-human half-orc, the actors in the roles of the Orcs were responsible for motion capture and voice work. Toby Kebbell, who also plays Antonidas, is the conflicted Orc Durotan, who as a family man himself feels the Horde leader only wants all the power to himself as views the others the Orcs and nothing more than mere pawns in the leader’s quest for domination. The scenes involving Durotan and his family are quite cute and show a softer side of a usually violent race of being. Into the Badlands‘ Daniel Wu is menacing as Horde leader Gul’dan, whose character is reminiscent of Mumm-Ra of the Thundercats series as he starts out as a mere powerful leader in a cloak only to reveal his true self in a very pivotal scene in the third act of the film and it is safe to say this is one leader who is a true beast.

The final battle between the Orcs and the Azeroth warriors is quite a delight as it splits into two parts. The first part contains a very vital part that cannot be spoiled while the second, the major battle itself, is exciting to watch, even proving to be nearly superior to the massive battles of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in terms of epic. During this battle, there are some major twists that prove to be extremely pivotal and will even bring a sense of shock value and it is safe to say, that the ending does leave room for a sequel and while it didn’t fare well in North America, the overseas gross massively skyrocketed, so a sequel may actually end up happening at this point. Only time will tell.

In conclusion, Warcraft is an okay adaptation of a video game. Despite its ultimately missing vital plot point, the film’s third act serves as a redemption of sorts.

WFG RATING: B-

This film is playing in theaters now. Check your local theater for showtimes.

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