Scenarios and scenery are recycled from more impactful fantasy films in Duncan Jones’s fantastical-looking Warcraft: The Beginning. The story centers on the conflict between orcs and humans. The latter live in peace in seven kingdoms, the former are fleeing their dying homeland through a magical portal. Not all orcs are ravenous invaders. Some, like a kindhearted clansman and his pregnant wife, are more sympathetic than the humans. But the hunched-over orc leader (and his minions) are evil, using a green smelly nefarious magic fueled by life force. Inevitably there’s an underwhelming battle at the end. Inevitably there’s chicanery and betrayal, which we see coming. Not so inevitably there’s a golem. What’s best about Warcraft is the spectacular-looking orcs, every detail of which, from their rugged costumes to their protruding canine teeth, is rendered realistically. On an IMAX screen in 3D they are anything but garish or weightless. By comparison the humans are bland. But that’s to be expected, given that in this moment a show like Game of Thrones can offer more human intrigue via sex and swearing, though not more visual flare, than something like Warcraft, which has to stick to PG-13 restrictions for financial reasons. Still, probably because it’s a prequel of sorts, Warcraft, not unlike Game of Thrones, is quick to kill off its characters, which is a respite from superhero movies in which no one really dies.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White