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  Warcraft OrcwardBuy this film here.
Year: 2016
Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Burkely Duffield, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Glenn Ennis, Glenn Close
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: For as long as anyone can remember, the humans have been at war with the orcs, with neither entirely gaining the upper hand, but not everyone is satisfied with this life of violence and one orc, Durotan (Toby Kebbell) wants little more than to escape this cycle, give up being a warrior and settle down with his pregnant wife Draka (Anna Galvin) to start a family. However, there’s not much chance of that when the sorcerer Gul'dan (Daniel Wu) is calling the shots, and he has created a portal using the life force he is able to drain from living creatures - including people - to break into the world of those humans. As Durotan and Draka join the army to make the journey, nobody but them know they are taking an unborn child across...

What that has to do with the rest of the movie went largely unexplained in a film that was exclusively concerned with world-building to establish the future entries in the proposed franchise, this based on the popular Warcraft series of computer games. As often with this sort of thing, the makers were preaching to the converted, as the fans of the source were vocal about championing it on the internet, whereas everyone else either saw it and shrugged, not getting what the fuss was about, or ignored it completely, so you could understand why director Duncan Jones, working closely with the game's creators, would put all his eggs in the basket of fandom rather than try to win over those who were not bothered.

There were certainly a lot of those followers and ex-followers who were, or had been, fanatical about the original, much as cult members would be totally captivated by the narratives and characters of the game and feel the need to proselytise about what a great time they had had playing it. By 2016, there were millions across the globe who had seen gaming become part of their lives and had become utterly immersed in one example or another, seeing their fantasy world, especially one you could play online, as much of a reality as the actual reality, and Warcraft had assuredly been one of those hits, but then there was the problem of adapting it to the big screen: games had an extremely poor success rate there.

Sure, some had been financial successes (how many Resident Evil movies were we up to?), but artistically there was little to be impressed by, with the vast majority exemplified by such cinematic horrors as Super Mario Brothers or Streetfighter which had arrived early in the cycle but had set a template of disappointing adherents and inviting ridicule from the non-converts. This Warcraft movie was different in that the fans proclaimed it had "broken the curse" of video game adaptations, mainly because they could recognise all the bits and pieces from the source the writers had included as fan service, pandering to them to flatter their enthusiasm for the trappings and plots of what they were familiar with. If, on the other hand, you were not familiar with them, you would be bored to tears.

Particularly when the sole frame of reference you would have outside of the game would be all the stuff the creators ripped off, chiefly J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth writings, mainly The Lord of the Rings, but also all those so-called "high fantasy" authors who had slavishly followed in his footsteps, much as every zombie movie and TV show owed a massive debt to George A. Romero that they would never acknowledge financially, no matter that he, as with Tolkien, had essentially made their profits for them and would never see a penny themselves. But Tolkien had a talent for making a coherent story out of his dense mythos that paid dividends, not something Jones and his cohorts could boast unless you had devoted about a year of your existence at least to playing Warcraft, hence the film quickly devolved into a mess of CGI battles and uninteresting conversations between actors who didn't appear one hundred percent sure of what they were talking about in the main. As with the Underworld series, absolutely nobody would find any entertainment here other than the diehards, and you'd be happy to let them get on with it. Uninspiring music by Ramin Djawadi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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