Of Orcs and Men: A review of Warcraft: The Beginning

warcraft-quad

A film needs to be a film. If it’s based on an existing property it can’t just be a straight adaptation, there needs to be a reason for it to be a FILM otherwise it loses purpose. Each medium is different, be it a game, book or iphone app, and they each have their own needs. A film needs to have a narrative, a three act structure and characters who go through their own arcs. It needs to tell its own contained story and if you want to set up a franchise, do that in the post-credits scenes like everyone else.

Don’t leave things hanging. Don’t leave us without any sort of satisfying conclusion, because if people don’t like it, they’ll feel like they wasted their time if there isn’t a cohesive ending to bring everything into focus. Without it, you are left with a sense that the creators are more content with their own understanding of the material, rather than what the audiences need to enjoy it.

This is the biggest problem with Warcraft. Despite being something of a passion project for self-confessed fan Duncan Jones, it simply doesn’t hold together as it’s own work. It’s for the fans of WOW yet even the fans want a proper story and a nice act structure.

I came out of this Film, confused annoyed and lost, disappointed with the lack of an ending. I’m a fan of the genre and have stuck with Game of Thrones when there is such a sheer amount of characters to remember, yet here, the people, locations and ideas all come and go with such speed and no time to let them sink in. As we are introduced to each new character, we are hearing about someone else and can’t think about who they are before we have to learn about something new.

It started well, the second shot of the Film as an Orc and a Human pace around each other is a sign of a smart director knowing how to direct. Whilst one of the first scenes with lead Orc Durotan gives him and his small family some nice development which makes them sympathetic and engaging. Then everything seems to go downhill.

Lead baddie Gul’dan is snarly and spikier than the other Orcs and his plan is to invade the human world has no real weight. The humans are all fairly unassuming and dull. Even the lead Anduin is introduced as a plot point rather than a character and the human characters that surround him are in no way as interesting as the Orcs.

The Film trundles along inserting in scenes here and there that only add to the convoluted nature of the world, not giving us time to get used to the things we have before telling us what we’ll get.

The finale leaves so many threads untangled that it barely works as an ending with the main villain not dying and not even getting to slink into the shadows, he just disappears. There’s an unresolved thread which frustratingly ends the Film without a resolution, assuming that we want to see that particular thread left over till the next Film when there’s no reason why it can’t be resolved now.

On top of that, so many of the main characters die that you’re left with some of the least interesting people in it.

I wanted to like this Film, I really did and despite some ok music and perfectly good CGI, there was a lot of stuff that didn’t take the time to make sense to passing fans. It was plodding and confusing and ends without a resolution to this one story, instead opting for beginning three others.

It’s passingly passable but has nothing to warrant a re-watch.

Rating: C

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