The video game movie continues to clamber desperately for its White Knight to prove that the medium can indeed translate successfully to the big screen, as despite so much promise and such a rich world to draw from, Duncan Jones’ Warcraft is not merely a bad movie, but very nearly a quite terrible one.
With the Orc world on the brink of destruction, the evil Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) threatens to invade the peaceful land of Azeroth to build a new home, all while Orc Chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and a human commander, Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) must rally their respective troops to stop him.
Though Jones is clearly passionate about the world he’s trying to build here on-screen, Warcraft is a failure in pretty much every way that a movie like this can be; the writing, acting and direction are all third, fourth or fifth rate, and betray its monstrous $160 million budget.
For one, the movie makes little attempt to include outsider audiences who will make up the bulk of the movie’s box office receipts should it actually succeed. More to the point, esoteric dialogues vomit names and places at the viewer breathlessly while failing to engage the viewer in the heart of the matter; it’s listless, dispassionate exposition and rarely crawls above even faintly interesting for the entire movie.
Performances are compromised as a result, such that even the usually reliable likes of Ben Foster and Dominic Cooper could very well have set themselves up for Razzie nominations next year. Still, the most surprising thing of all is that Jones, who blew so many away with his two prior movies Moon and Source Code, does such an atrocious job behind the camera.
Yes, the Orc scenes are visually stunning no doubt, but little passion or confidence shines through during the surprisingly generic, even boring action sequences, and it’s clear as day that the pic has been edited into oblivion, probably due to studio interference.
More than anything, Warcraft is dull, and surprisingly so at that. It fails to subvert the rather moldy fantasy tropes it so avidly engages with, and brings none of the wonder that made the games so astoundingly popular in the first place. It looks stunningly cheap at the times (especially the practical sets and costumes), the actors seem frequently bored, and even the luster of those wonderfully-rendered CGI Orcs – which account for most of these two stars – wears off after a while.
One of the most disheartening cinematic let-downs of the last few years, not even the mighty combo of Blizzard and Zowie Bowie himself can quell the seemingly indefatigable “video game curse”, proof that neck-deep lore is all for naught without an entertaining script.
Warcraft is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas June 10th