Films based on computer games have had a chequered history. Some have worked while others have left lasting stains. For every Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, there are disasters like Streetfigher and Super Mario Brothers.
Warcraft slides somewhere in the middle. Neither fish nor fowl, it utilises the CGI to the limits to tell its Game of Thrones-style story. It doesn’t tax any brain-cells with its visual imagery lingering a little longer than previous game-to-screen adaptations.
Azeroth is a peaceful kingdom under threat from a race of orcs fleeing their wrecked home. Travelling through a portal, their presence quickly puts Azeroth on a terrible collision course. Determined to prevent their own world from being destroyed, its citizens bring forth their army to defeat the orcs. Among the warriors are Llane (Dominic Cooper) and Anduin (Travis Fimmel) who battle to save their turf from extinction.
Warcraft is a film of two halves. One features CGI beasts rampaging lands while the other has humans battling their new aggressors. This mix of animation and live action performances almost works in spite of itself. Although the human actors give decent renditions of virtuous characters, it’s difficult becoming invested with the CGI ones. There’s a sense of unreality about those characters, making you care little. Whilst this is meant to be pure fantasy, creating engaging characters whether real or otherwise enables enjoyment for the overall product.
Warcraft occasionally feels predictable as presumably certain moments from the game are realised. Another issue is the script’s over-earnestness. A movie/game adaptation shouldn’t be so serious with everyone looking like they are attending a funeral. The long run-time doesn’t help, although director Duncan Jones makes some brave artistic choices. He excels at the battle sequences and puts some interesting twists within the elongated plot, ensuring Warcraft isn’t too much of an unwatchable mess.
Despite being nowhere near as atrocious as previous game-to-screen adaptations, Warcraft barely leaves any lasting impression. It’s okay without being remarkable, with such criticisms sure to be ignored by film-makers eager to target eager cash-spending gamers.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 5