Review: Warcraft – A film that tries too much but achieves very little

Based on the popular videogame franchise Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment, the movie opens to a scene where a human soldier and an Orc are about to enter a duel setting the tone of the movie for the fans of the game as well as people who do not know the game at all. The movie essentially draws its story from the Blizzard’s 1994 real-time strategy game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, where each side had its own story campaign. Warcraft centres on the world of Azeroth which has been home to humans, elves, and dwarves and now is on the brink of extinction as the savage Orcs invade Azeroth in search of a new home. Orcs too are not villains. They are power stricken by Orc warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) who through his fel-magic has consumed Orc-land Draenor and now has united all the Orc clans to take over Azeroth. But not all Orcs are bad, Durotan (Toby Kebbell), the chieftain of the Frostwolf clan starts to understand that Gul’dan is the one who has been corrupting the lands with his demonic magic which is not strengthening the Orcs but is making them vulnerable to death. Durotan has a counterpart in human knight Lothar (Travis Fimmel) who is devoted to serving his King (Dominic Cooper) and Queen (Ruth Negga). He has company in realm’s guardian Medivh (Ben Foster), and runaway mage-apprentice Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) who are constantly on lookout to find ways to protect the kingdom. During one of the battles between Orcs and humans, the latter do catch a half-Orc half human Garona (Paula Patton) who does not mind exchanging her loyalties for freedom and respect. But, will she follow through? Warcraft 3 Directed by Duncan Jones of Moon and Source Code fame, Warcraft comes with a huge baggage of being one of the most popular game franchises in the world today, never mind it’s falling numbers of regular users for its games. Jones has the ability through his two sci-fi movies to gather all the elements of the movie and have an emotional connect to the cause of the character. But here he has the challenge of making characters of these two sides into villains as well as victims. It is up to the viewer as to who does he back in the final face-off. This is not your standard fantasy story where the good will rise above the evil. But where it lacks is setting each and every character without justifying why do they actually exist. Yes, the movie having a limited runtime does hinder with the setting up the plot as dense as the game Warcraft but then again your audience is not limited to video game fans. There are a lot of plot mishaps in the movie which make the movie an also ran and not the supreme. The movie jumps from one location to another at times so quickly that you read the name but do not know what the difference between this one and the last is. The introduction of characters like Khadgar and Medivh also have so little back story that you keep wondering, are they any different from Lothar or any human in Azeroth? There is a time when Gul’dan is shown to be so power hungry that he kills an Orc and asks in fury whether anyone has the power to question his authority but then you see him bow down to Orcs when he asks them to kill a human after the human has won against an Orc fairly in a duel. There’s no compelling plot need, for instance, to delve into why Khadgar abandoned his mage training. But given how often the event comes up, the failure to address it makes it seem like there’s a scene missing somewhere. Things like this make you want to cringe but then as an audience what do you do. Warcraft 2 The movie in trying to woo everyone has actually achieved the opposite. With very little details from the video game and the different races (dwarves, elves and draeneis) seen in cameo, it certainly will appeal less to the gaming community. And, with the lack of thicker plot details and character development the movie lacks the oomph factor for the non-video game fan. One can definitely vouch for the CGI and extended VFX which has been exceptional and almost at par with The Hobbit movies. All the Orcs in the movie are motion captured and you can distinguish between the major characters like Gul’dan, Durotan and Origim. Major work has been accomplished by three VFX studios – Industrial Light and Magic, Hybride and Rodeo FX. Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) has been responsible for creating these insane Orc giants and has done a wonderful job. There are a few portions in the film where you feel that the studio has not put 100 per cent and either the texture of the building is half baked or the character is directly lifted from the game. Apart from these three studios, Weta too has been credited in the movie which now mastered with fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series and I in India. Warcraft has been in the production for 10 years with Duncan Jones working on it for the last three years. You expect a movie which will not only appease the video game fans but also make this a money spinning franchise for Blizzard and Universal. The studio is yet to announce a later installment or series of the movie but with an ending such as this you know that it is coming. However, with the first movie setting a very weak storyline for the audience, you better have fel magic to bring audience back for the next.