Release Date: June 10, 2016
Running Time: 123 minutes
Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about the Warcraft series of video and multiplayer online role-playing games. So I have no idea whether director Duncan Jones’ feature-film version of Warcraft is devoutly faithful to the games that appears to have peaked in popularity around 2010. I assume it does borrow heavily from the Warcraft universe because no one in their right mind would turn a videogame into a film without retaining the core elements that made it a hit with gamers. Irrespective of how Warcraft has mined its source material, Duncan harbors Lord of the Rings ambitions but delivers a sword-and-sorcery epic that’s as superfluous as a Hobbit sequel. Everything to be found in Warcraft has been seen before—and done better—from the bloody clashes between humans and computer-generated orcs to the palace politics to the supposedly wise but idiosyncratic wizard working his magic against his enemies. With the aid of a dark magic-powered dimensional portal, the orcs travel from their dying homeland of Draenor to Azeroth, a planet that the warmongers known as the Horde seek to conquer and occupy until it’s time to invade the next world. Azeroth is home to a multitude of mythical creatures, but only the humans dare to resist the Horde. Joining them in their fight are Durotan, an orc chieftain who fears the powerful magic wielded by his leader may also endanger the Horde, and the half-human, half-orc Garona, a slave with no love for the Horde. Durotan and Garona are the only memorable warriors in this fight. Toby Kebbell, who posed such a threat as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ treacherous Koba, delivers another splendid motion-capture performance as the orc with peace on his mind and glint of sadness in his eyes. Durotan also is a marvelous computer-generated creation who displays more emotion that the humans he sides with against his own kind. As the fearless Garona, Paula Patton mines both the pain and fury that comes with being reviled and rejected for being born different. When it comes to the humans, Vikings’ Travis Fimmel appears sedated as the heroic Sir Anduin Lothar; Preacher costars Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga barely muster up any interest in saving their people as the rulers one of Azeroth’s kingdoms; and Ben Foster hams it up as the Guardian with magical powers, Medivh. Clearly director Duncan Jones’ was not able to spread his enthusiasm for Warcraft to much of his cast. While Jones endeavors to construct a film that transcends about its videogame roots, he’s let down by the screenplay he co-wrote with Charles Leavitt. Warcraft never rises above its genre clichés, its tedious human characters, or grating dialogue. That’s not to say that Warcraft isn’t as competently directed as any cookie-cutter mega-budgeted fantasy adventure with franchise aspirations. But, surprisingly, it, lacks the personality, intrigue and tension of Jones’ two previous offerings, Moon and Source Code. This certainly works against the film’s open ending, which implores us to invest in the future of Azeroth without giving us a reason to do so.
Aired: June 9, 2016
Web site: http://www.warcraftmovie.com