I first played Warcraft back in the day when it was a top-down strategy game, rather than the first-person, online behemoth it became later on. I even played the very first version, pitting my little orc and human minions against my dastardly enemies.
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was the best game I had ever played. It had battles, rescue missions, assassinations, comedy, (gasp) multiplayer, a cool little mini-map thing, and ORCS—just like in The Lords of the Rings!
Then, twenty-two years and a trillion mouse-clicks later, that little video game became a movie.
I didn’t see it. I was too busy and I forgot.
But, fast-forward another two years to just a few weeks ago…
“Have you seen the Warcraft movie?” Richard asked.
“No,” I said.
“Don’t bother,” he said. “It’s rubbish.”
Of course, now I had to see it. 🙂
Well, let me tell you, Warcraft: The Beginning packed almost everything possible into its two hours and three minutes.
So many special effects you can see the money evaporate before your eyes!
Angry mummy orcs!
Sexy half orcs!
Orcs with enormous over-sized hands!
A massive hook for a sequel that will probably never happen!
Almost everything except a decent plot, that is. A bucket-load of special effects cannot lift what is a dull, uninviting story built on cliches and caricatures. Which is a pity. Good fantasy movies are few and far between even today, especially ones with such a huge budget.
Warcraft: The Beginning seems to have been written by people who have read a book on how to write a fantasy movie, but have never actually read any fantasy stories. Fantasy storytelling is not about ticking off a series of (very) well worn tropes and genre cliches—it’s about people (human or otherwise). No amount of flashy magic and pretty costumes is a substitute for a character-driven story and emotional stakes.
However, I did quite like the CGI orcs, even though it was a bit strange that they were more lifelike, realistic, and interesting than the live-action humans.