The war over Blizzard’s Warcraft franchise was waged for a decade, but the final product of this long-debated topic met with vast criticism. Nevertheless, even though Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: The Beginning has its flaws, it opens a new chapter for the fantasy movies and – what’s the most uplifting about it – sets a milestone in the CGI for the future.
The plot of the film is based on the game Warcraft – the orcs, a bloodshed-loving race of warriors, is forced to leave their homeland and seek a new place to settle. Thanks to the magic of their spiritualistic warlord Gul’Dan, the united tribes of the orcs invade Azeroth. There they meet the resistance of the humans, led by King Llane and his servant, Lothar.
In 2009, James Cameron’s renewed the well-known story of Pocahontas in his superbly costly Avatar and at the same time revolutionized the 3D technology and settled a new bar for newcomers to deal with. However, the visuals of Warcraft: The Beginning, are a stunning piece of art that overtakes Avatar’s beauty. The computer-generated orcs are more lively and uniquely “human” than the real actors, with the leading Durotan (Toby Kebbell voice-acting) being by far the most compelling and deep character of the film. Apart from that, the world of Azeroth is impressively diverse – from chilling cold to succulently green forests and aridified flatlands – it’s detailed and eye-catching, a truly marvelous feast. A high point is also the soundtrack, composed by Game of Thrones‘ Ramin Djawadi.
Unfortunately, the visuals cannot cover up for the blatant flaws of Jones’ film. Mostly, the cast (apart from the CGI-ed ones) really dissapoints. Travis Fimmel, playing Lothar, is completely cloying, cracking poor jokes and desperately looking for the attention of the audience. Dominic Cooper as the King Llane is a caricature of a noble king, with that untarnished, over-the-top character and as the culmination comes Ben Shnetzer as Khadgar, whose acting is just plain awful.
Another problem with Jones’ film is the plot. The so-called lore of Warcraft is immensely structured and complex, which somehow forced out many shortcuts to be implemented. Unfortunately, there are numerous plotholes, which might seem sloppy from the point of a person, who never had to deal with the game’s world. Although the reasons behind Durotan’s actions remain coherent and plot-wise, there are some forced-out behaviors that seem a bit off – like the ones directing Medivh, the guardian of Azeroth.
Warcraft: The Beginning feels a bit as if it was a rushed opening to a great saga. There is a spirit of ambition written all over it, to join The Lord of The Rings among the finest of the fantasy genre, but Jones really needs to regroup his troops once he’s given another shot with a sequel. The CGI rescued the film and made quite a beginning, but there is a lot of those, who felt dissapointed. And since now we were given the taste of it, we finally know what to expect from the next Warcraft.
UMP Grade: 3o/50