In Theatres: 
Jun 10, 2016
Running Time: 
123 minutes

Video game film adaptations have a tendency to be terrible, and yet their number among films in development is at an all time high. Warcraft is aiming to change the negative connotations associated with the genre, and with solid source material and a passionate director who’s familiar with the game, my expectations were high that this would be the film to break the mold. And while it does an adequate job at showcasing some of the best elements from the video game, it still struggles to completely free itself and rise above mediocrity.


The orcs’ homeworld of Draenor has been ravished and become a dying wasteland, encouraging their magical leader Gul'dan (Daniel Wu) to create a portal to a new world to overthrow, Azeroth. The magic his uses, called fel, is extremely powerful but also extremely dangerous, requiring life itself in order to be wielded. Gul’dan only has enough lives to sacrifice to keep the portal open to send his best warriors through, including Frostwolf Clan chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and his right hand orc Orgrim (Robert Kazinsky). Their plan is to invade Azeroth and capture enough humans to power the portal long enough so that the entire horde can come through and conquer the entire world. Doing his best to prevent that from happening is King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his lead soldier of the Alliance,Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). With the help of their powerful Guardian Medivh (Ben Foster), it’s possible they can defeat the horde and prevent Gul’dan from destroying their kingdom.


The Warcraft franchise has been around for over a decade and has amassed more than a dozen titles worth of lore. The film does its best to condense the best and necessary story points into a two-hour adventure, but with so much source material to draw from it can feel overwhelmingly generic at times, especially when it comes to the Alliance. There are many characters introduced in the film, and there’s only so much exposition you can do. I saw myself not caring about Wrynn or Lothar at all and found their characters to be not much more than soldiers in bulky armor. I will admit that I do not play any of the Warcraft games, so these characters are completely new and don’t already have any sort of connection to me. A film should be able to stand on its own, however, and Warcraft unfortunately doesn’t.


That being said, I did enjoy the orcs the most, particularly Toby Kebbell’s performance as Durotan. The technology used to bring these creatures to life is absolutely fantastic as they’re able to show a wide range of emotion and facial expressions. It’s very subtle and makes their characters all the more believable. It’s easy to forget that orcs aren’t real and are just the result of motion capture and computer animations. Durotan is also the most interesting character in the film as he struggles with his decision to fight with his own race or side with the humans. I would have preferred to see a film that solely focused on Durotan and his exploits rather than have this grand ensemble that Warcraft presents.


In the end that’s its biggest flaw. The scope is much too large for the general crowd to become attached to most of its characters. It lacks focus and instead floods audiences with a little bit of everything. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a great one, either. The action is great and the orcs and animations are impressive, but the story is lacking. Warcraft is a film I would only recommend to those who are a fan of the games. If you’re not, then prepare for simply another generic high-fantasy genre film.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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