Warcraft Review: This can’t be a Duncan Jones movie!
When you come to think of it, Duncan Jones has actually given us two Sci-Fi gems to remember. His debut feature ‘Moon’ (2009) starring Sam Rockwell was a mind-blowing experience for me; Of course Sam Rockwell had a big hand to up the level of Moon with his exceptional performance. His second film ‘Source Code’ (2011) again tackled a tricky theme but the way he executed it with the right amount of thrill and wit made it a box-office success as well as a hit with critics. I was very surprised when Jones was attached to the Warcraft project as his previous ventures were small on scale and of a very different genre. But I was actually very impressed with the first trailer of the film and got excited for this video game adaptation. Let’s just say we all get disappointed when something doesn’t meet our expectations.
Before moving forward, I want to say that I haven’t played the games so my review doesn’t take that aspect into account (I am not biased in any way). I’ll see at this film as a guy who has watched a Duncan Jones’ Sci-Fi epic. Warcraft begins in Draenor, home to Orcs, which is being torn apart by the mysterious fel magic. Gul’dan, a powerful orc warlock creates a portal to Azeroth using magic on Draenei captives. Gul’dan leads a small warband into Azeroth to capture people and use their lives to sustain the portal and bring in the remaining horde. The chieftain of Frostwolf clan, Durotan, has his doubts but joins Gul’dan anyway with his pregnant mate Draka and friend Orgrim Doomhammer. They raid Azeroth’s several settlements. Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), the military commander of Stormwind kingdom, confronts the bodies of the men that were killed by orcs and finds that Khadgar, a mage, is trespassing. When questioned, he explains that the bodies contained traces of Fel magic. With the permission of Llane Wrynn, king of Stormwind, Lothar, Khadgar and Medivh accompany a scouting party to follow the Fel magic. They are ambushed by Orcs but Medivh takes care of them using a spell. Khadgar captures a half-orc Garona whereas Durotan, Orgrim and Blackhand (Horde’s warchief) escape. Garona is promised freedom in exchange for leading humans to the Orc camps and she becomes loyal to Stormwind. Meanwhile, Durotan realizes that the destruction of Draenor is happening because of Fel and Gul’dan must be stopped, otherwise Azeroth will follow lead. He sets up a meet with Llane so that they can unite and defeat Gul’dan. What follows is an amalgamation of loyalty, treachery, honor and sacrifice with some over-the-top CGI thrown into the mix. Maybe, just maybe, the fans of the popular Warcraft game will like this but as far as audience like me is concerned, nah!
Mind you, Duncan Jones shows his visual flair, but all that becomes tacky at some point. The whole realm, Orcs, magical spells, and eye-popping locations are created quite well but does it help a viewer to get immersed in the rigid storytelling? I guess not. Even the action sequences are hazy and confusing at times. When you think that almost 2000 + special effects shots were taken and the amount of planning and precision involved, what we see as the final outcome is rather underwhelming. Jones tried hard to get the emotional aspect in the film right, and he does at some points, but that can’t help this spectacle to soar. The script from Charles Leavitt and Jones doesn’t help the cause either. It feels like too many story arcs are being followed in Warcraft which makes the whole thing convoluted. And then there’s the ending where the makers thought it better to leave several plot devices ticking for a possible sequel but I am already thinking, isn’t this franchise doomed already? And if a sequel happens, I just hope Duncan Jones creates a fantasy epic which is better than this epic mess.