The transition from video game to movie is rarely a smooth one. I even wrote an article about the many failed attempts, and I was legitimately nervous about the chances of success awaiting ‘Warcraft’. Not just as a movie fan but also as a fan of video games. Over the years, I have given World of Warcraft two weeks of my time, played Warcraft 3 and seen the various cinematic intros for the World of Warcraft expansions. I am a fan of fantasy too, which fuelled my desire to see this movie. Even before release, when the trailers were revealed, criticism was rife. People have been burned in the past and when a franchise is as beloved as this, it would be impossible to meet the expectations of everyone who sees it. Thankfully, I believe the majority of fans will be pleased.
The Orcs’ world is dying, and to survive they need to find a new home. Following the guidance of their leader Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), they hope for a better life. In the human world, Lothar (Travis Fimmel) is the King’s most trusted commander and always has his peoples’ best interest at heart. The influx of Orcs into the human world is seen as a threat by mankind, with heroes on both sides having to take a leap of faith in order to peacefully co-exist.
The concept is one we’ve seen many times, but within this world, it’s a story that works very well. While an advantage lies in knowing the lore of this world, it is possible to enjoy it as a newcomer – you just have to be quick learner. As the title suggests, ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ is something of an origin story, but the movie certainly doesn’t painstakingly explain every detail of the history of this world. This is like a Superman movie without seeing Krypton explode, and you are thrust into Azeroth, the world in which this is based, head first. Personally I prefer this method – you can have the history hinted at, subtly within the narrative, instead of making it a focus or being beaten over the head with it.
With this type of movie, the most important aspect is arguably how it looks, to be able make the world convincing. This is done throughout; the locations of the game have been recreated with care and look impressive on the big screen. The effects of the magical spells are not held back either, giving the action sequences an epic look. This is not a negative point but the best way to compare it would be to put ‘Warcraft’ alongside the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series. Whereas ‘Lord of the Rings’ makes magic feel almost grounded, and I suppose realistic even, the magic in ‘Warcraft’ is the opposite – this is total fantasy and is presented as such. The Orcs also look pretty convincing, with the motion capture technology being so impressive that you forget about it. I found myself completely immersed and really caring about the plight of the characters.
When adapting a movie from a video game, it’s important to focus on why said video game is popular. You have to consider that many people have spent hours on end playing these games, so it makes sense to create a film which is enjoyable for fans first and foremost. But, I believe fans of the fantasy genre will enjoy this offering also, and possibly become fans of the video game in turn.
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper