WARCRAFT (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell
Review by Gilbert Seah
The phrase ‘based on a video game’ should scare serious movie goers from this CGI blockbuster extravaganza. Based on the Blizzard Entertainment Warcraft series which consisted of 5 core games, this film is actually based just on the first one. WARCRAFT is set in the human Kingdom of Azeroth, threatened by an Orc invasion before Azeroth was expanded into new continents of Kalimdor, Northrend and Pandaria, allowing the introduction of new characters like the Night Elves.
The story in nutshell involves humans fighting against the Orcs as they invade through a portal. The battle lasts from the start to the end of the film. There are several main characters, humans and good Orcs to distract audiences from a basically non-existent story.
The Orcs come from another world called Draenor to invade Azeroth. The warrior Lothar (Travis Fimmel) fights for his king (Dominic Cooper) who relies on the suspicious Guardian, Medivh (Ben Foster) who has taken to the dark side, and is responsible for opening the dreaded portal. Meanwhile, the young warlock Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) lands a hand. The Orcs are led by an evil Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), that a good Orc chieftain recognizes should be stopped. The characters help to liven the video game movie up several notches.
The film is best watched in IMAX 3-D – forget the small extra cost. It is difficult not to get into the action on a film in 3-D IMAX. The special and video effects, production design by Gavin Bocquet) and costume design all look the more convincing. This is director Duncan Jones blockbuster directorial debut after making small films like MOON and SOURCE CODE.
I entered the screening with the lowest expectations after all the bad hype about the movie. But truthfully, WARCRAFT is not bad. It is better watching an expensive blockbuster that is difficult to make than a well reviewed low budget film with maybe just two characters. On has to give credit for effort put in.
WARCRAFT ends with the obvious set-up for a sequel. Judging from other critic reviews so far, WARCRAFT has been panned. But for video game fans, this might be the fun film summer has promised. The film has already made $45 million in China on opening day breaking all records for a weekday opening day. So it looks like a sequel will likely be in the making with Night Elves.
See WARCRAFT for what it is – guilty entertainment with super special CGI effects. And Remember – to see it in 3-D IMAX.