Back in October 2015, I wrote a particularly scornful review of the first Warcraft trailer (yes, trailer reviews are a thing) – delicately suggesting that the film looked comparable to concentrated arse water. I commented specifically on the volume of seizure-inducing special effects and a story so unoriginal, so packed with clichés, it’d be a tossup between me epileptically flailing in my seat and passing out from sheer boredom. The director, Duncan Jones, actually replied to me. Naturally, I felt like a complete dick. Despite prematurely tearing his film to pieces, he was playfully accepting of my criticism and even convinced me to give it a chance – a genuinely pleasant guy. Well, I should have trusted my instincts. Warcraft is definitely shit.
Adapted from Blizzard Entertainment’s enormously popular MMORPG and depressingly subtitled “The Beginning”, Warcraft is a fantasy re-enactment of the current refugee crisis, but instead of desperate Syrian families it uses giant CG orcs. After their home world is desecrated by dark magic, obviously evil green guy Gul’dan opens a portal to the human realm, where everything is shinier and they sell recognised brands. As the two races engage in needlessly convoluted battle, members from each side start to question if they’d be better off cooperating and not stabbing each other in the face. Not that any of that matters once neon-eyed, campy wizards start lobbing devastating magic around.
This is the foundation of the film that was meant to finally bridge the gap between games and cinema. It doesn’t. Instead, it widens it further and fly-tips its own share of unwatchable bilge. Piled beneath it is Hitman: Agent 47, Doom and Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian. That’s the kind of ungodly company Warcraft deserves. And saying it’s solely down to incoherent storytelling would be rude to the hideous characterisations, shoddy editing and laughable aesthetics.
Warcraft looks like it was kitted out by Poundland. Giant, shiny rings and plastic-looking armour is no doubt meant to honour the style of the game, but the actors can barely look at it without wincing. In fact, the ridiculousness of the props act as an extension of the characters; Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer), a mage on the human’s side, looks and behaves like a cross between Frodo and a 1960’s Robin. Meanwhile, more experienced magic chucker, Medivh (Ben Foster), resembles the bloke modelling a wizard costume on the packet of a fancy dress gown. The main and boring protagonist, Lothar (Travis Fimmel), is so ashamed of his outfit he abandons his boots in the final act.
The orcs are far more interesting, but for all the wrong reasons. Their protruding molars have ring piercings, if only to demonstrate how moronic they are as a race. They’re supposedly intelligent and honourable, yet have absolutely no idea that their leader, Gul’dan, is evil, even when he’s draining the life force from slaves right in front of them. Main orc Duratan (Toby Kebbell) is the only one wise to the wizard and, ironically, the most human character in the film; even more so than half-breed Garona (Paula Patton), who failed to convince me that a man fucked an orc.
Warcraft is marginally more enjoyable than a urinary tract infection. It’s hard to believe that the man who brought us Moon and Source Code has produced something as miserable as Gods of Egypt. And I fail to see how even a fan of franchise will approve of this, unless they lack any sort of integrity and are happy enough as long as it vaguely reminds them of clicking a cursor. The only thing it should remind them of is the used tissues on their bedroom floor.