Warcraft: The Beginning should have been a total disaster, however it manages to entertain despite its convoluted plot and copious exposition. Credit must be given to director Duncan Jones for managing to create a world that feels tangible in-spite of the trillions of megabytes of CGI displayed on screen. Based on the hugely successful video game, Warcraft: The Beginning may have failed to find traction in the US, where it grossed a disappointing $47 million of a $160 million budget, but international grosses were more buoyant and the film managed to snag over $433 globally (a large majority of this coming from China).
Orcs from dying world Draenor use some strange voodoo and funky lightening to transport themselves to Azeroth, a humanoid world, in an attempt to capture prisoners so that the evil Gul’dan can power the portal and bring more orcs through. That’s the general crux, but the film involves a whole lot of battles and magical moments where orcs and humans face-off against each other.
I’m no gamer, so I can’t attest to how close Duncan Jones’ film recreates the gaming experience of the hugely successful video-game but it is an entertaining fantasy romp. At its worst Warcraft is a CGI-fuled video game, but at its best it feels like a live action version of some long forgotten 1980s cartoon. That might sound derogative, but it shows the sense of adventure and the style of plotting within this highly dense world. Yes it’s a bit like Lord of the Rings and Game Of Thrones, but there’s fun to be had here.
Jones’ previous films (Moon and Source Code) have all been very character-focused but this this changed with his first foray into the world of big budget filmmaking. The cast of the film features Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, and Paula Patton and they’re all largely forgettable as they’re surrounded by a myriad of special effects and action. ILM is the star here and it’s the effects which primarily impress, with some strong motion capture work giving life to the orcs.
As the first instalment of a potential franchise Warcraft: The Beginning works is fun and well (war) crafted and it has some very impressive visuals on display. It’s hindered by a very dense plot and, I imagine, a lot of fan-service for those familiar with the games. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but I was pleasantly surprised by what Duncan Jones was able to achieve.
Warcraft: The Beginning comes with a healthy selection of special features. You get almost 15 minutes of deleted scenes, a gag reel, motion comic and the six-part The World of Warcraft on Film (the best feature here). The disc also includes an unnecessary look at the The Fandom of Warcraft and a look at the The Madame Tussauds Experience. It’s a solid package but it lacks anything really weighty.