Warcraft (2016)

*. OK, I know I’m not the guy to appreciate a movie like Warcraft. I’ve never played the video game so really, what’s the point?
*. I’m also not a big fan of today’s fantasy movies in general. Screens dripping with CGI, the banal storylines involving kingdoms in a state of endless war with each other, the stiff dialogue portentously delivered . . . it all looks, feels, and sounds the same. To be sure, genre filmmaking will always be made up of generic elements, but fans of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones and World of Warcraft (LoTR, GoT, WoW) must know this material so well they could write it themselves.
*. Though I haven’t played the game, I do know the territory a little bit, so I won’t take the route Will Leitch did in his review: “Warcraft is a language you don’t speak, a code you can’t crack, a party you weren’t invited to. . . . I am absolutely baffled as to what this film is going on about.”
*. I did think I understood the basic point of it well enough. Basically it’s the old “portal opening to another dimension threatening all life as we know it” plot (a favourite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which, let’s face it, every studio was looking to replicate around this time). Orcs are invading through a magic gateway and it’s up to an alliance of humans (with some dwarves and elves just hanging around in the background) to stop them.
*. Speaking of those elves, it’s curious that the good guys (humans) are armed with “boomsticks” (which seem to be highly impractical short-barrelled gunpowder weapons) but we never see anyone, not even an elf, with a bow and arrow. Are they not used in the game?
*. There were a couple of items of very minor interest. First there is the racial angle. The good orcs are from a more pinkish clan, making them look more human than their green comrades. The other orc heroine is a female half-breed. So despite the effort to present the orcs as sympathetic, it’s done through a racial lens. And then there’s that portal through which the orcs come streaming from their own dying planet. Are they illegal immigrants, coming to Azeroth to build better lives for themselvs and their families? It’s hard not to make the connection.
*. The other sidenote has to do with the evil soul-sucking magic called the Fel. The Fel is addictive, and we see the orc wizard (pardon my forgetting his name) draining it from victims like he’s shooting up. It’s also destructive of the environment, leaving behind a barren wasteland incapable of supporting life. This made me think of the glowing green liquid as a kind of oil proxy. Strange to say, but what the orcs really need is to go green.
*. I won’t try to make anything more out of this. Warcraft is a shallow and meaningless experience. Travis Fimmel seems to really want to have more fun with his role but the movie doesn’t let him. Shame. I did like the CGI faces of the orcs, which are well realized and fill the screen in a wonderful way. But aside from that, this is predictable franchise filmmaking that failed to launch its franchise. No great loss. There will plenty more where it came from.

2 thoughts on “Warcraft (2016)

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