Warcraft: The Beginning is the highly anticipated, action-adventure, fantasy film, directed by Duncan Jones, and produced by one of the largest and most popular gaming companies in the world, Blizzard Entertainment. For those unfamiliar with the work Blizzard does, they are the company behind popular online games such as World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and now Overwatch (I can’t wait to play and review this. It looks amazing!).
Before I delve further into this review, there is a caveat; this review is written by someone who never got into the Warcraft games and is catered for those unfamiliar and/or new to the magical world and lore of Warcraft. In essence, this review will be looking into Warcraft: The Beginning simply as a film (I may throw in some tiny bits and pieces which could relate to the Warcraft games though)
Warcraft: The Beginning as a film, was amazing in IMAX 3D. The aesthetics of the film as a whole from the CGI creatures, vibrant colours, and fantastic attention to detail made the film attractive and exciting. Both the human realm of Azeroth and Draenor, the dying world of the orcs, were uniquely, visually magnificent, from the barren, impoverished lands of the orcs to the lavish and rich kingdom of Stormwind. Not only was the environment within the film brilliantly displayed, the great detail in the intricate designs of the humans’ armour and weaponry didn’t go unnoticed. On top of that, the orcs themselves looked believably and realistically brutish and well, rather ugly, which in this case is a good thing. The makeup and CGI effects, as well, proved highly effective in providing realism to the magic and mysticism of the Warcraft world.
The characters in Warcraft: The Beginning held great promise and potential. Durotan, the orc chieftain of the Frostwolf clan appeared to be a true and just leader, who cared for his people and looked at the concept of peace to be the saving grace that his people needed in order to build a new home in the human realm. The military commander of the kingdom of Stormwind, Sir Anduin Lothar (played by Travis Fimmel, of TV’s Vikings fame) was also portrayed well as a cunning and sharp warrior with the predictable potential to be hero of his people. Other characters within the film too, the likes of King Llane Wrynn (played by TV’s Preacher and Agent Carter star, Dominic Cooper), Medivh (played by Ben Foster), Garona (played by Paula Patton) and Khadgar (played by Ben Schnetzer) were all interesting, likeable and were equally important to the film. However, despite possessing stunning magical powers, a good heart and being generally likeable as characters within the film, all of the characters in Warcraft: The Beginning fell short in terms of character development.
The characters interactions with one another felt unbelievable and unrealistic. Not to mention that the dialogue between characters were rather short lived. Lothar’s teasing and perceived dislike of Khadgar, and sudden change of heart at the end of the film, felt forced. Similarly, the ‘love’ that magically appeared between Lothar and Garona took place so quickly and appeared out of nowhere that it felt as if the film wanted viewers to accept its predictability and accept that the two were in love despite any real courtship or gradual progress in their feelings for each other. It was rather disappointing that there was no real backstory or any real history given to the characters. Instead we are made to make assumptions. My big gripe with this film is Garona’s character who, to be very honest, appeared rather timid and lame for a character that could have been portrayed as a capable warrior (I mean, even Keira Knightley’s Guinevere in the 2004 King Arthur film was a far more believable warrior).
The film didn’t just lack in character development. The plot itself could have been greatly improved. For example, history and more information about the dark force that is the Fel would have been useful as well as information about the Guardian, his role in the community, his motivations and the work he has done for his people. I would have appreciated knowing a bit more about the orcs, why their world decayed and certainly more about Gul’dan and his motivations. It bothered me that I wasn’t in the know about where Gul’dan received his powers from. To me, it felt as if the film assumes that viewers are all fans of the Warcraft games and are educated on the Warcraft lore. Where I found the film to encourage my curiosity about the game, other film-goers, who may not know anything about Warcraft, may instead feel frustrated.
Warcraft: The Beginning was, without a doubt, a film that stuck with traditional action-adventure film conventions and was largely predictable. Throughout the film, viewers could easily tell what would happen next. The only aspects of the film that caught me completely off guard was the way in which the story dragged out and then quickly rushed through the key moments of the film. The epic battle at the end should have and certainly could have been done better with a more suitable conclusion. It was rather obvious toward the last hour of the film that nothing would truly be resolved and, instead, sets out the beginnings of war, perhaps leaving room for a sequel.
To sum up, Warcraft: The Beginning is entertaining but lacked the depth and allure needed for me to be truly wowed. As a standalone film, without any prior knowledge into the Warcraft lore and background of the characters, the film left me rather clueless. The only reason why I stayed was for the great visuals and epic battle scenes. Had I immersed myself in Warcraft prior to watching the film, I strongly believe that this film would have been thrilling and incredible. If you have played the games and have insights into the world of Warcraft then this film is for you. As a newbie, I would still recommend the film but suggest not attempting to figure out the story and go in with high expectations