World of Weakness – ‘Warcraft’ review

Photo courtesy of Raiditem Raiditem on Flickr A promotional image, featuring an orc and a human, for the film adaptation of the popular gaming franchise "Warcraft."
Photo courtesy of Raiditem Raiditem on Flickr A promotional image, featuring an orc and a human, for the film adaptation of the popular gaming franchise "Warcraft."
Photo courtesy of Raiditem Raiditem on Flickr
A promotional image, featuring an orc and a human, for the film adaptation of the popular gaming franchise “Warcraft.”

zero stars

Devin King | Reporter
Published June 10, 2016; 10 a.m.

Oddly enough, for the first movie based on lore from the massively mu.tiplayer video game “Warcraft” feels more like a sequel. This is because the movie banks on the fact that the audience enjoys the characters, even though many of them are given shallow development. As someone who is not familiar with the characters, as I have never played “World of Warcraft”, I could not help but to constantly wonder “Why should I care about anything happening if the movie gives me no reason to?”

“Warcraft” is the origin story of the war between humans and orcs. The evil orc warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) opens a portal that connects the orcs’ world to the human world. The orcs attack in order to capture souls for resources. Meanwhile an orc named Durotan (Toby Kebbell) views the orcs’ way of life to be wrong.

If that plot summary seems dumb, it is not much better on the big screen. I have heard from fans of the game that they enjoyed seeing their favorite characters on screen, but I could not help but to find the story to be strange and largely incohesive. The editing is likely the major problem of everything as nothing is properly introduced, and simply thrown in the audience’s face. From mage societies to orc traditions to numerus kingdoms in the world, it was if I was expected to know all of the lore. Because I am not a fan of the game, I felt thoroughly confused.

The biggest issue I had was the cast of characters. The only character I found myself actually enjoying was Durotan, as Kebbell gave a charismatic performance as one of many CGI orcs. Every other character is as stiff as a board, as if the actors were sleepwalking through their lines. This, in addition to everyone speaking in “old English” made the movie feel like a high school Shakespeare play with a $160 million budget.

Speaking of budget, the visuals are quite strange. While I felt that the CG orcs, magical spells and bulky battle armor to be impressive, the fact that everything else is live action makes for a major of uncanny valley syndrome. The worst was the spells, which looked like they were straight out of a video game, but were being casted by real humans. Perhaps if the whole movie was CG or if they used more practical effects, this could have helped the visuals, but it results in a strange-looking hybrid.

The 123-minute runtime could have been worse, but because the movie does notr make an effort to properly develop its story, it is still a drag to watch. The vast majority of dialogue contains lore that will leave people not familiar with the game lost and confused. Even the action scenes are boring, as the fights are mostly composed of humans and orcs swinging around their weapons like madmen with no creativity involved.

While I am happy that “Warcraft” fans are finding some enjoyment in this adaptation, I still cannot think of a movie in recent memory that I found this boring. There is no excuse for a film that is the first in its series to not properly explain the story, and above all else, any adaptation should try to be more than a half-baked, fan-made, feature-length game trailer.

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