For the horde!

Video game to movie adaptations havenít had the most lauded of history's - usually the butt of many a joke and internet memes galore - but director Duncan Jones hopes to change that with Warcraft: The Beginning - based upon the game franchise of the same name - so how does this latest adaptation stack up?

Whilst not the biggest Warcraft fan - my foggy memory of the strategic-series begins and ends with collecting lumber and gold - and although Warcraft: The Beginning does benefit from knowledge of the lore, it's by no means a must, as Warcraft: The Beginning kicks off with a beautiful scene - foreboding a possible future in this new cinematic universe - of a human warrior and an off-screen, brutish Orc circling one another before presumingly hacking each other into pieces.

The Orcís within the Warcraft universe mind you are no The Lord of the Rings fare, but hulking beasts - even referred to as giants - that wield hammers and axes befitting their stature. And itís upon the now pillaged - and subsequently dead - Orc homeworld that events are put into motion, as the Horde led by Gul'dan (Daniel Wu) wields his dark magic to open a portal into a new world, into Azeroth.

Not all of the Orc brethren are of like mind though, with a particular clan (known as the FrostWolf) led by Durotan - portrayed in a fantastic motion capture performance by Toby Kebbell - foresees this new world of theirs falling prey to the same dark magic Gulídan wields, unless they can usurp him.

But knowing they lack to the power to do so, Durotan and his Orc-in-arms Orgrim (Robert Kazinsky) seek out the help of King Llane (Dominic Cooper) and his Kingdom, to put an end to this evil threat once and for all.

Much like the two factions the game is known for, Warcraft: The Beginning is a movie of two halves. On one side - and the more technically difficult might I add - are the hulking CG characters come to life, and Iím happy to say they have done a fantastic job bringing that same Avatar-esque feeling to the big screen once again. In fact the only characters youíll feel any emotional attachment for - be it love or hate - are the Orcs, which is quite the feat, and the thing I most worried for prior to the film's release. From the Orcs interpersonal relationships, how they deal with politics, disagreements, love, and how they live everyday life as a race of hardened warriors is truly believable will and have you completely invested, making you forget they are wholly digital creations.

Warcraft: The Beginning - Gul'dan

Itís such an puzzling quandary then, that the more basic aspect of storytelling - dealing with the real life human characters - falls flat. Whilst Travis Fimmel does the best with what heís given as Lothar - and his quips sprinkled throughout are much needed - unfortunately there really is no depth in the script on the human side of the fence, with the film jarringly transporting the audience from one plot point to the next in speedy fashion, giving no room for these characters to breathe nor a reason to exist and expand upon the dynamics between them; all to ultimately make us care at all about the ramifications within the plot. Instead each of the characters be it they King, Wizard, Warrior etc becomes a basic archetype - nearly venturing into the fabled Dungeons & Dragons movie territory - not at all the more nuanced storytelling Duncan Jones is known for.

Thankfully the beautiful world Warcraft: The Beginning exudes will far outweigh any qualms you may have, and with a little suspension of disbelief youíll find yourself transported into its high fantasy trappings.

Warcraft: The Beginning aims to be light and wholly fun, truly succeeding in that latter aspect, never giving you a moment of boredom and throwing memorable action set pieces one after another at you. Then when all is said and done, setting up an interesting world that will have you invested for possible future instalments.

Warcraft: The Beginning is the kind of film movies are made for - at least for me - that allow you to turn your brain off and transport you to a faraway land and become enraptured within. Whilst the human aspect of the story is shallow and the script choppy, the Orc characters coming to life on the big-screen more than make up for it and worthy of admission alone.

Warcraft: The Beginning is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    31st May 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Choppy script

    Shallow human performances

  • Orc performances

    CGI

    Fun action

    Beautiful world

Film Info

Warcraft: The Beginning Warcraft: The Beginning
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 30th May
Runtime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Dominic Cooper, Daniel Wu, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Ben Schnetzer & Robert Kazinsky

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Whilst there is very limited blood, there is a lot of violence usually depicting CG characters.

Planned as a trilogy of films.

The movie has been in the works for over a decade (first announced in 2006), with many directors and changes over the years. At one point infamous director Uwe Boll even approached Blizzard about acquiring the rights.

An Orcish dialect was created specifically for the movie.