As another computer game is adapted for the big screen, we are all left wondering if it will go the way of Streetfighter or will it actually be good?
Let me say right from the start that I have never played Warcraft so can’t comment on how the movie resembles the game. I know a little about it, you’d be hard pushed not to. I know there are Orcs, and they are in the movie, I know there are humans, and they are in the movie and I know there’s magic, and that’s also in the movie. So far, so good.
Taking on writing and directing duties is Duncan Jones, AKA Zowie Bowie (Moon, Source Code) whose father, the great David Bowie, sadly passed away while Duncan was just finishing the movie, or had just finished it. Jones was helped on writing duty by Charles Leavitt (K-PAX, Blood Diamond). When I heard that Jones was involved I was thrilled. I hoped we’d get a fantasy action film that had a decent story line and perhaps even some character development.
Well I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. Jones and Leavitt do a fantastic job crafting a story from the game. It’s a story of being consumed by power and also of joining forces. The Orcs invade the planet Azeroth using a portal they have made which is powered by the souls of slaves. On Azeroth they come up against the humans and some dissenting Orcs, who try to stop them taking over their world.
On the human side you have Anduin Lothat, played by Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Llane Wrynn, played by Dominic Cooper (Need for Speed, The Devil’s Double), Medivh, played by Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Lone Survivor) and Khadgar, played by Ben Schnetzer (Pride, The Book Thief). They are also joined by human looking Orc Gorana, played by Paula Patton (Precious, 2 Guns).
The Orcs meanwhile have Orgrim, played by Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, Hot Pursuit), Blackhand, played by Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers, The Shawshank Redemption), Gul’dan, played by Daniel Wu (Shinjuku Incident, Chinese Zodiac) and a whole bunch of others though you can’t tell it’s any of them thanks to the superb CGI.
I was thrilled with the action sequences, there’s a lot of hand-to-hand fighting and some fight sequences on an epic scale and Jones keeps them all in view. Never goes too close, never adopts the shaky cam. We see it all. Green blood and all and it’s glorious. Fight scenes that we can actually watch and, here’s the kicker, it still creates pace and tension. Marvellous.
The CGI is fantastic throughout, except perhaps for the birds that they use to fly around on, a tad iffy at times. But the landscape and the Orcs themselves, and the magic, is brilliant. The story will keep you interested, I certainly wasn’t checking my watch or tempted to wonder and pick-up my phone or anything.
It would, however, be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of points. There are quite a few points that look familiar, which I guess is difficult to break away from in the fantasy genre these days, particularly when, in reality, it’s most likely the other movies that have taken the ideas from the game Warcraft.
But, the birds they fly around on, look like the ones from the Harry Potter series. Some of the large fight scenes look like The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings and the dwarves, that make a brief appearance, also look like the dwarves from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. As I said, this is most likely because those movies took their ideas from Warcraft the game. It just took a lot longer for Warcraft the game to become Warcraft the movie then some of the other movies mentioned.
None of this really detracts from what is a fine movie and a great start to a possible franchise, it is left open for one. Whether we’ll see Duncan Jones return I’m not sure, but here’s hoping.