Sunday, June 26, 2016

Warcraft - a lost war

movie review

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, and Daniel Wu
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Tagline: Two worlds. One home.

A string of subpar video game adaptations have proved that Hollywood has yet to master the art of turning games into spectacular movies. Many filmmakers have struggled with such adaptations, and director Duncan Jones has now joined this list, as his attempt to bring Blizzard Entertainment’s immensely popular Warcraft to the big screen doesn’t yield an exciting, compelling adventure.

Inspired by the 1994 game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, the film explores the origin of the clash between the Alliance and the Horde.

Using warlock Gul'dan’s (Daniel Wu) powerful “fel” magic – which feeds on life itself, and promises great power but exacts a terrible price – a group of orcs travel from their dying homeworld, Draenor, to the realm of Azeroth. They raid settlements and capture the natives, intending to sacrifice them to bring the whole orc Horde through. But the devastation leaves noble orc chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) feeling like they are being manipulated by the demonic Gul'dan, whose dark magic is destroying every land they occupy.

The humans, meanwhile, try to put up a defence, with the region’s ruler, King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper), knight Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer), and guardian Medivh (Ben Foster) struggling to protect the people while uncovering the truth behind the orc’s plan and attempting to figure out how the invaders can be stopped from taking over the kingdom.

The project’s earnest execution makes it seem like the filmmakers really want you to like the movie, but then they don’t give you any reasons to do so. Underneath all the CGI wizardry, Warcraft just relays a fairly generic tale of good versus evil. The plot has, however, been made overly confusing by populating the narrative with too many characters (with names that are often hard to remember, especially for those who aren’t already familiar with the series) and several unnecessary arcs that don’t really go anywhere. The editing, too, is choppy, and the inconsistent pacing makes it hard to fully take in the proceedings and stay invested in the action.

Both the human and orc characters are one dimensional archetypes, their interactions hammy and dialogues dull. The acting isn’t exceptional either. Actors like Dominic Cooper and Ben Foster just seem out of place in this project, while there is nothing convincing about Paula Patton’s portrayal of a half-orc, half-human character.

Maybe Duncan Jones wasn’t the best choice to helm the project and bring the world of Warcraft to cinematic life. Or perhaps any other director would have faced the same difficulties cramming all this exposition into a film even though it seems more suited for a television mini-series. Still, gamers who are familiar with the franchise will enjoy the nostalgic hit this film provides and diehard fans of fantasy adventures will appreciate the film’s setting and visual effects. For the rest of us, though, this derivative, predictable outing is an overlong slog delivered through unengaging characters and it doesn’t offer anything distinctive or exciting enough to merit a visit to the cinema.

Rating: 2 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

Hi Five, The Express Tribune - 26th June, 2016

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