Warcraft: The Beginning

 

starHalf



The popular video game is brought to the big screen in a $160 million production directed 

by Duncan Jones. But are we ready for even more CGI fantasy?

 
Warcraft The Beginning

  

There’s certainly a lot of war and quite a bit of craft and, sadly, this is just the beginning: the first chapter in a new franchise. Adapted from Blizzard Entertainment’s video game, this $160 million epic storms back into Tolkien territory with a convoluted backstory involving an on-going battle between an ancient human race and a tribe of enormous, war-mongering orcs. Under Duncan Jones’s direction one might have hoped for something a little more distinctive, but there was more entertainment value in just five minutes of Jones’s first film, the $5 million, marvellously atmospheric Moon (2009). His second feature, the $32m Source Code (2011), was also exceedingly good value, a mind-stretching slice of romantic fantasy playing with the concept of ‘time reassignment,’ among other things. But, here, with so much riding on such a mammoth budget, one feels Jones’s control slipping through his creative fingers. As if the multiplex were not already congested with tales of imaginary worlds, sorcery, fabulous creatures and endless armies, Warcraft just adds more of the same.

 

The true test of the film would’ve been to make an orc credible, or at least sympathetic, but in spite of their impressive appearance, they are just another CGI creation to be feared and to be knocked around. Leading characters meet terrible fates, but it’s hard to muster a modicum of feeling for these totemic figures, mere blips on the backdrop of yet another video ‘entertainment.’ Decent actors struggle to inject a note of conviction into the proceedings – Ben Foster as a wizard, Dominic Cooper as a king, Ruth Negga as his queen – but don’t even get a chance to wink at the camera. The CGI is everything and while it’s suitably awesome, it’s not enough to hold boredom at bay. However well-crafted the imagery, the experience of seeing the film is no more enthralling than peering over a gamer’s shoulder and watching him play with himself.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Clancy Brown, Callum Keith Rennie, Glenn Close.

 

Dir Duncan Jones, Pro Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Charles Roven, Alex Gartner and Stuart Fenegan, Screenplay Charles Leavitt and Duncan Jones, Ph Simon Duggan, Pro Des Gavin Bocquet, Ed Paul Hirsch, Music Ramin Djawadi, Costumes Mayes C. Rubeo.

 

Legendary Pictures/Blizzard Entertainment/Atlas Entertainment-Universal Pictures.

122 mins. USA/China/Canada. 2016. Rel: 30 May 2016. Cert. 12A.