Warcraft: The Beginning was that unsure of itself that it didn’t even have “The Beginning” tacked onto the onscreen title.
I was also unsure… of what was going on. Never have I spent an entire 2hrs+ of a movie without the slightest idea of what’s going on (well, other than Fellini’s Satyricon). Perhaps that’s why I’ve never watched a Harry Potter movie, but then I only opted to watch this because of Duncan Jones being in the director’s chair.
I’ve never played the role-playing game on which this movie is based. My brother-in-law is a huge fan, whereas I prefer games based in some kind of reality, even if it’s Grand Theft Auto, since aside from the outlandish action going on, it’s all human characters (except for Chop the dog, of course). And since I’ve not indulged online with this, nothing could be spoiled in terms of worrying about how a videogame would transfer to the small screen, unlike those Tomb Raider games I know so well which were mostly great fun, but the films were lacking because you wouldn’t take part and complete puzzles (or stare unhealthily at Lara – when I was younger, of course, not now.)
As for the plot, there’s orcs vs humans, there’s a huge green, glowing portal, there’s floating cities, there’s teleporting, there’s a hairy orc woman about to give birth (that’s at least two adult kinks taken account of, for some, in one character), there’s locations like Ironforge, Azeroth and Stormwind that feel like some brainstorming town-naming session that went wrong, there’s talk of The Horde, there’s elements of John Carter, Clash of the Titans, The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Pitch Black and anything to do with ancient Rome, such as one main orc shouting in battle, “I am Durotan. Son of Garad!” (like, who cares!)
It was like the Clash Of Kings promo, shown before the film, had forgot to end.
However, at least with Duncan Jones in charge, he knows something about brevity. The incredible Moon was just 97 minutes long, while Source Code was a similarly trim 93 minutes – and even then, it needed to lose the last 5-10. No doubt an extra hour would’ve been added if Christopher Nolan, James Cameron or Peter Jackson were involved.
On the plus side, there were some amusing deaths and violent scenes (all within a 12-cert as no children will be traumatised by what’s onscreen, because it’s not like someone’s getting shot in the face up-close), but it was still quite a tough watch when you have no idea what’s going on.
Half the cast seemed bored to be there, while the other half were CGI’d orcs and so I couldn’t tell what the actors were thinking. The only exception was Ben Foster as the Guardian, Medivh, but then he’s always good. I also liked ex-Mrs Robin Thicke, Paula Patton, as Garona, the hot female human/orc hybrid, even though she just reminded me of Zoe Saldana’s Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, given her green tinge.
Once we do get some semblance of plot, we learn that the Orcs want to take over the human’s world, Garona being the only one of her kind, and so can attempt to bring peace to the land (the method carried out, I didn’t quite grasp, but then I did admit I haven’t got the first idea what’s going on). Some time later, some evil orcs want to get in on the action (I got the impression one of them was called Gul’dan), so the regular orcs must team up with the humans to wipe them out. They all looked as ugly as each other, so I was at a loss as to who was fighting who. The endless mumbling from most orcs didn’t help.
In spending a lot of time trying to work out who the actors were. I even thought I saw Benedict Cumberbatch at one point, but he’s not even an uncredited cast member, so it can’t have been him. The lead guy reminded me of Adrian Lewis Morgan who plays Jimmy Clay in Doctors, but it wasn’t him. With the upcoming three week break, perhaps he was moonlighting in Hollywood? Sadly not. He wouldn’t have been the first Doctors character to have dipped his toe in Tinseltown’s waters, since the fantastic Sarah Moyle had a cameo as an assassin in The Gunman opposite Sean Penn and Mark Rylance.
Also, there is a potential post-end-credits scene, which would’ve worked quite nicely there, but it was shoved in pre-credits. However, for the most part, when it comes to Warcraft: The Beginning, the whole affair was a complete waste of everyone’s time.
When I go to the cinema, my favourite seat is in the middle of the back row of the front section. You’re sat about five rows from the screen and, as long as it’s not a 3D film, you can get everything right in your face (which often negates the need for 3D). Also, there’s no-one behind your kicking your seat.
Not all auditoriums are like this, so for those, I’ll aim to sit right at the back, again in the middle. Not ideal as the rear-most speakers are to your side, but the optimum position is about 2 or 3 rows in front, and someone’s likely to sit behind you and start muttering to their girlfriend (one bloke vocally guessing a key aspect of Ex Machina out loud, whereas I wait until a film tells me things, so that ruined that scene for me).
The former happened when I watched this movie. As it was the second film I was watching at the cinema that day (the other being The Nice Guys), I’d timed it so I’d arrive with just the trailers to sit through again. The back row in screen 15 of the Trafford Centre is seven seats long. But… there was already a man sat in my favourite seat.
Never mind, I sat on the end of the row, and put my bag up on the chair next to me. I could see my mere presence irked him, because I had entered his ‘domain’ and he now felt uneasy. I’m guessing 99% of people get on his nerves on a daily basis, just because of their breathing. I’m the same, hence, we would probably have been great friends. Anyway, before the trailers were done, he upped and moved to the centre of the third row of this section, so, two rows in front of me. With my favourite seat vacant, I took my throne. YES!
Running time: 123 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (6K) (dual-strip 3-D))
Released: May 18th 2016
Director: Duncan Jones
Producers: Stuart Fenegan, Alex Gartner, Jon Jashni, Charles Roven and Thomas Tull
Screenplay: Duncan Jones and Charles Leavitt (based on the story and characters by Chris Metzen)
Music: Ramin Djawadi
Anduin Lothar: Travis Fimmel
Garona: Paula Patton
Medivh: Ben Foster
Llane Wrynn: Dominic Cooper
Durotan / Antonidas: Toby Kebbell
Khadgar: Ben Schnetzer
Orgrim: Robert Kazinsky
Blackhand: Clancy Brown
Gul’dan: Daniel Wu
Lady Taria: Ruth Negga
Draka: Anna Galvin
Moroes: Callum Keith Rennie
Callan: Burkely Duffield
Karos: Ryan Robbins
Varis / Caged Frostwolf: Dean Redman
Compound Guard: Glenn Ennis
Peon: Terry Notary
Draenei Mother: Elena Wurlitzer
King Magni: Michael Adamthwaite
Aloman: Anna Van Hooft
Warrior: Callan Mulvey
Sheep: One Take Charlie
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.