Cinematic Releases: Warcraft - Reviewed

Warcraft hits theaters tonight. Read our review. 

The typically eclectic Duncan Jones tries his hand at bigger budget filmmaking with a mish mash of minor successes and huge failures.

Considering his two sci-fi genre entries, he undoubtedly has a flair for strong visuals and character development. However, his Warcraft movie is a strange fit for a man that's been a proponent for practical effects and original storytelling. Overall, this release looks and feels like an amalgamation of everything we've seen before. Men in armor do battle against orcs and strange flying beasts harken back to the worlds of Tolkien. With massive towers of doom and opposing beacons of good and evil, Warcraft walks a fine line between plagiarism and tributary. Sadly, the confines and context of the game will not interest people that don't know the source material. In fact, this may absolutely bore non-fans of the game.

Time to see an orthodontist. 

Luckily for Jones, a strong cast tends to pull this mostly generic, unmotivated video game flick out of the summer blockbuster gutter. Ben Foster and Dominic Cooper add some much needed weight to the swath of rendered creatures and enemies. This is mediocre big budget fanfare for a mixed demographic that will undoubtedly take issue with many of the plot points and typical story structure. Watching the film, you can tell how defiantly resistant Ben Foster is to this type of movie. He seems bored and is restraining himself from putting his all into a role that could have been way better had it been geared more towards his artistic persuasions. The same goes for Cooper. For both of them, this is quite obviously just a paycheck. They're both bored out of their minds here.

So, fans of Warcraft are finally given a movie designed after their favorite game. Awesome for them. Having never played it, I didn't know what to expect. To put it bluntly, it looks like the redheaded stepchild of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies strewn with a bit of Avatar CGI topped off with a heavy heaping of cut scenes from a video game. The textures look highly realistic at times and look completely false at others. If you've ever seen Jupiter Ascending, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The effects in Warcraft are similar in the fact that they often look spectacular but then strangely look barren of any reality whatsoever.

I believe that CGI won this round. 

Again, I don't want to be too hard on this feature. It's definitely not the worst blockbuster season release but it's not going to win any awards for creativity either. Borrowing way too heavily from many other genre entries and heavy handedly using the baby in a basket tale of Moses, Warcraft is a juxtaposed movie we've seen over and over again. If you want to be entertained by CGI'd creatures clobbering each other, you'll find something here to like. Other than that, Warcraft is just an average action story that looks like an amplified Middle Earth with less defined characters and a messy script handled by a director that's better off sticking to what he does best: smaller movies with great actors.

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