Warcraft: The Beginning. A Review.
Despite the fairly negative reviews on sites such as Metacritic, I went to see Warcraft today, and I figured I’d do a quick review to give my thoughts. There might be mild spoilers, be warned.
I guess I should start this review by explaining that I’ve never played Warcraft in any of it’s forms. I have no interest in starting now, either, and I’ve never read any of the books or comics up to this point. My entire knowledge of the Warcraft world is limited to knowing it’s a fantasy world, that there are Orcs in it, and obviously Leeroy Jenkins (google it).
On the other hand, I love fantasy movies and despite some awful trailers, this one intrigued me. I think it’s fair to say, I enjoyed the hell out of it.
First and foremost, it’s beautiful. If you think the pictures were pretty, you haven’t seen anything until you see it all moving. Everything looks stunning, the scenery, the animation, the Orcs especially are something quite special.
Speaking of the Ocs, they’re the best thing in the film. Each of them looks brilliant, and you get genuine emotion from Toby Kebbell, who is incredible as Durotan, one of the Orc chiefs. Actually his story is probably the most interesting part of the film, and I wish there was more of it. The whole, “do I betray my people to save my people?” arc is well done here, and I found myself really enjoying Durotan’s time on screen. Also, his scenes with his wife and baby felt genuine and touching.
Special praise goes to Daniel Wu and his excellent portrayal of the evil Gul’dan. He was great every time he was on screen.
The human side of the story is a bit more a mixed bag. On the one hand you’ve got Travis Fimmel as Sir Anduin Lothar. He’s brilliant, frankly, and basically holds up the entire human part of the film almost single-handedly. He’s a badass warrior, and manages to come across as someone you really don’t want as an enemy.
Ben Schnetzer is also excellent as Khadgar, a mage who’s incredibly out of his depth, and both he and Fimmel work well together when they’re on screen.
The action scenes were magnificent, and stunning to watch. The real high-point of the film, and they managed to look pretty vicious despite it only being a 12a in the UK.
The story as a whole is quite interesting, and the film flies along its 2hr show time, but there are some issues.
- The big reveal of the bad guy is a giant ‘meh’. I simply didn’t care about the character, nor his motivations, and frankly I guessed he would be the villain the second he comes on screen.
- Dominic Cooper isn’t in it enough to really give his character the drive it needed for people to want him to succeed. I wanted Fimmel to do it because he’s heroic, and badass, but his king just sort of arrived, said a few things and left. He needed a bigger part.
- Actually that’s the biggest problem I have with the film, it needed more of it. There needed to be more of the king, more of the humans you were meant to be rooting for.
- The romance between Lothar and Garona felt tacked on. It was obvious it was going to happen, but there was zero set up to it. One minute they were talking, the next they were deeply in love. I didn’t buy it for a second.
- There were no twists or shocking parts to the film. None. Everything that was meant to be a twist could have been seen a mile away, although that didn’t dampen my enjoyment of it for the most part.
- Fimmel’s son was a plot device and nothing more.
- It needed more humour. I wanted someone a Leeroy Jenkins moment, or more sarcastic one-liners. There were characters who did it occasionally, but not enough for my liking.
- More species. Hopefully if they get a sequel the elves and dwarves can actually do something.
The film was obviously a labour of love for all involved, it’s just a shame that the script couldn’t quite match the lofty ambitions. Now, I really liked it, but I love fantasy films anyway, and I can certainly see why others might not feel as invested.
It’s better than Batman vs Superman and X-men apocalypse, and anyone who says it isn’t beautiful is either trolling or blind. The script needed polishing, and several of the characters needed to go away as they take screen time from characters who are actually interesting. It’s one of the few films where I’d say 2hrs isn’t enough. If they do a director’s cut and add another 30-40 minutes onto the running time, I’d be happy with that.
So, I do recommend it, but it’s not for everyone. You like fantasy, you’ll probably enjoy it. You like Warcraft, you’ll love it. And if you want big grand action packed scenes, or you want to see orcs and humans beat the shit out of each other, then this is the film for you. I really hope it gets the sequel it desperately wants, as I’m very interested in seeing what they do from here.
It’s also probably a film that the majority of reviews I’ve read have either missed the point (it’s not meant to be Lord of the Rings), or just don’t seem to like it because it’s a videogame movie. Go see it for yourself. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.