Warcraft: The Beginning (2016) Review

Rating: 7/10

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell

Directed By: Duncan Jones

Written By: Duncan Jones, Charles Leavitt

 

In short:

This is definitely one for the Warcraft fans. If you are a fan of the franchise, or have played World of Warcraft in the past, chances are you will enjoy seeing familiar heroes in live action. The cast do a good job, and at times I found myself getting lost in the magic of the whole thing. However, this is not my favourite part of the Warcraft storyline, and at times the visuals of the film felt too cartoon-like and clunky; clearly to remain in keeping with the game.

 

The full story:

I have been looking forward to this one for a long, long time. As I had mentioned in my preview post, this film had me eager in anticipation ever since it was first announced as a possibility almost a decade ago. There was always going to be a danger entering the cinema with those kind of high hopes. As a huge fan of the franchise ever since Warcraft 3 came out in 2002, I was ready to fully embrace the cinematic magic which was to follow, and embark on the story of how orcs had first encountered humans. However, I must say that whilst I thought it was a decent film, I did not walk out of that cinema glowing. The cast was well done in my opinion- all of them fans of the Warcraft franchise, and most of them hardcore World of Warcraft players at some point in the game’s 12 year old lifespan. Travis Fimmel won me over through his other major role- that as legendary viking Ragnar Lothrbrok on the Amazon original series Vikings, Dominic Cooper charmed me as Dakin in The History Boys (I have followed his career ever since), and Toby Kebbell captured my attention as the drug-addicted son of a major London mob boss in Guy Ritchie‘s Rock’N’Rolla

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Although it must be said, the actors themselves were a little hard to recognise underneath the orc CGI, even if their mannerisms gave them away. All of the cast did well in their roles, and I especially enjoyed Ben Foster‘s performance in the role of legendary Warcraft mage Medivh. The costumes were a slight let-down for me, in particular the armour of the human warriors. It seems that the film attempted to replicate the look of World of Warcraft a little too closely, resulting in armour that looks almost comical due to it’s silly proportions. The visuals were stunning at times, and there were some fantastic shots of locations which will be very familiar to World of Warcraft players, including the breath-taking city of Stormwind (as seen below).

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It was an incredibly satisfying experience to be able to identify nearly all of the locations used in the film and place them on a mental map. Furthermore, having been in all of these locations at some point in my World of Warcraft career, it was awesome to see the action recreated by these legendary characters of the World of Warcraft universe. It is exactly these moments that make the film special, but only if you are already a fan of the franchise. I can see how it would fail to appeal to anybody who did not play any of the games, or is not generally a fan of the fantasy genre. In my opinion, the story and Warcraft universe in general rivals even that of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, with its rich and diverse stories, locations, characters and races, however I feel like this early part of Warcraft’s history is not as compelling as some of the other events which are to follow. In this sense, the film feels like it is just setting up for a long franchise (let’s hope so) with many more and possibly better quality films in the future. To conclude, if you are a Warcraft fan, the film is pretty much a must see. If not, you wouldn’t be missing out on too much with this early installment.

 

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