Warcraft – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

warcraftWarcraft – 2.5/5 – Nostalgic feelings provides people a blind to attach to things we are fond of in the past.  When film builds off existing material, there is a feeling to capture the essences of what fans want.  At the same time, you have to create something that ties together story and characters within a cohesive direction.  For a film that has a pre-existing fan base with so much backstory; there is so much that Warcraft has to live up to.  When it comes to creating a place of true escapism, this film provides that kind of window.  Even with that essential feeling, it falls flat within characters and storytelling.  Overall, Warcraft has a lot of potential, but never amounts to anything but being a typical throw away video game film.

Premise:  The realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as it faces a new race of invaders.  When two worlds collide, will the race of Orcs and Men find a way to live together or fall into fighting forever.

At the heart of this existing world are the characters.  Built from the lore, there are too many to list so I recommend that you refer to the IMDb page.  In short, the whole cast do an alright job in providing distinction for the characters of Azeroth.  No matter if it’s just capturing the essence of what are humans or orcs; you feel on the surface the essence of what makes them who they are.  Outside of providing an aspect of what the ‘world’ is; the characters themselves aren’t well developed.  There is no sense to create some kind of emotional or individual development.  The actors/actress in these roles do nothing more than recite lines; falling into the trap of common archetypes for a fantasy film.  When certain character moments happen, it just become cumbersome and melodramatic.  Creating that commonality helps ground the characters for the nonexistent fans, but there isn’t any worth beyond being the typical ‘one-dimensional’ characters they are.  The secondary characters do even less then the main.  They don’t go beyond being the background for the world.  Even in doing this, they add no color to the character mold, just being ‘there’ for the plot.

The direction brings about an origin tale that meets the fantasy genre.  With a mixture of both, the director has a tough task in introducing the world of Azeroth to the vast public.  From the onset through the second act; the direction never gives the story a chance to build up any kind of real worth.  There is lack of development of creating a ‘story’ that has purpose to the world, characters and emotional/pivotal scenes that happen.  What you get is a quick introduction to this universe that encompass humans and orcs.  From there, we get quick plot points that detail why the orcs leave their home to venture into Azeroth.  From here, it is a matter of playing the plot vs. plot endgame.  This is where you have two story threads heading into a collision course.  You have:

The humans discovering a new threat to their peaceful realm

The orcs arriving in a new world and struggling to live within it

These two plot elements play to the common threads that are built within the fantasy genre.  What happens here is that the direction never diverges from the commonalties of those plot points and just plays the chessboard by moving the ‘human’ and ‘orc’ pieces towards the ultimate showdown.  You get the common linear direction that moves characters by obvious plot device from point A to point B.  There are no left or right turns, just one flow into the predictable situations and scenarios that yearn for development.  Once you get through the bulk of the paralleling threads, the constant pace picks up even further and dilutes the trendy use of the magical aspect of the world, characters and ‘other races’ that popup on screen.  There are literal hints of something ‘new’, ‘bigger’ and ‘mysterious’ happening throughout as well as heavy foreshadowing, but there is no trying to provide some sort of explanation for what is happening.  This flawed sense of direction gives the audience a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of mantra.  Accepting a feeling of escapism is something that anyone can do, but if you don’t develop the story or give purpose to the characters there is truly no gravitation for the audience towards things happening in the film.  The compounding nature of the direction seems to drown out dangling plot threads with the visual ‘eye candy’; trying to surmise something grand where there is nothing but hollow context to be found.  Once the film hits the last act, the ‘obvious’ plot twist turns the story towards that ‘ultimate’ showdown.  It is a fight that actually brings you some heart, purpose and worthy plot development that should have happen within the first 2/3rds of the film.  Even so, providing something powerful and eventful for the battle helps engross you within the slaughter, sacrifices and decisions that happen in the aftermath.  Once the film hits the epilogue, it is a matter of building up what this world has to offer towards what’s to come.  There is sense of true closure of a ‘chapter’; leaving an overall ‘saga’ to come in possible forthcoming sequels.

The visuals found in this film are beyond breathtaking.  For the lacking of characters and story; the cinematography breathes life into the hollowness of everything.  From the creation of Azeroth, the character designs and the organic nature of the different magical spells used; you feel all is naturalistic.   There is a real sense of purpose to bring realism with everything that is fanatical.  You are enraptured by the vast fields, snowcapped mountains and the beautiful architecture of the city of Stormwind.  You don’t believe anything is CGI created, and all locales and creatures are real.  Outside of the visual prowess of the world, the score helps fuse it with emotional girth.  From the resounding symphony structure used to build up the fights, character interactions and ultimate showdown; it helps breathe some powerful tones when the direction doesn’t.

Warcraft is littered with a lot of potential; but falls flat for most of its running time.  With no strong character development or story depth; this turns into any typical fantasy film.  What makes it standout slightly above is its visualization of the world as well as the resounding music.  If you’re a fan of the lore, games or even like fantasy films, this is one you should experience on the big screen.  At most, go at a matinee but it probably should be left to being a rental.

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