– CIM #1006 – “Warcraft” – 123 mins. – release: June 10th, 2016 –
It’s true; most video game adaptations suck. For whatever reason, some stories are better left in the realm for which they were designed. Nevertheless, when this week’s director Duncan Jones, son of Bowie and helmer of the both fantastic Moon and Source Code, gave me the chance to wire in to his big blockbuster bonanza Warcraft, I geared up in tribal warpaint and hit the lab. Millions of people have lost themselves in the insanely popular World of Warcraft, and while I never dipped my toes in that MMORPG, I did play the original trilogy of Warcraft games on which it was based. But nothing could prepare me for the war ahead.
The cim starts, and I’m in the foreign realm of Azeroth. This is not the Earth that we know and love, but rather a wild environment full of magic, dangerous creatures, and varying races of intelligent creatures. Much like Lord of the Rings, Azeroth is home to humans, elves, dwarves, and countless other fantastical species. And then there are the orcs. The orcs are savage humanoid creatures, larger in size but smaller in intellect. Despite witnessing the heartwarming birth of the cutest little newborn orc baby- fuck the orcs. Their bloodthirsty commander, the shaman Guldan, is a fierce son of a bitch, opening a portal to Azeroth, and his day planner includes invasion, war, and total realm domination.
Fortunately I meet some good guys sooner than later. King Wrynn is a solid leader looking to strike back. His right hand man, Lothar, is a badass warrior who never shies from a good quip. Together they enlist the help of the Guardian, Medivh, a super powerful wizard, Khadgar, an inexperienced Guardian-to-be, and Garona, a once-imprisoned orc/human hybrid with inside knowledge to help along the way. The team is assembled, but as I watch all the king’s men struggle to keep the kingdom together, I realize that everyone is a walking, talking, exaggerated cliche. None of these characters are overtly original, nor is their conflict, but this is a monarchy so I say screw it, quietly to myself, and sally forth.
Perhaps the heat of battle will spice things up. As I fight along side the humans, I learn to understand why war is hell. There is nothing quite as awful as watching two competing factions slamming into each other, slaying hordes of nameless opposing warriors, for absolutely no good reason. The most interesting part of these battles, unlike say, the battles of Saving Private Ryan, is that at least these warriors are wielding brutal weaponry, casting spells, and riding around on massive war wolves and insane gryphon fighters. But also unlike Saving Private Ryan, there was no weight to the bloodshed before me, no real emotional tie to the soldiers, and no end to this war in sight.
After two long hours of Warcraft, I unplugged wondering what the hell they were thinking with this one, other than perpetuating the video game adaptation curse. I’m just as much a fan of eye-candy as the next geek, but this epic wasn’t much more than an epic waste of time. Fans of the games may get some jollies when they hear a familiar name or see a murloc fishing in the river, but for everyone else, you’ve gotta be a serious fantasy freak to find any redeeming qualities here. I’m disappointed in Duncan Jones and hope that he returns to his own brand of storytelling for his next project, which hopefully isn’t the sequel to Warcraft that they teed up for by the end of this shitshow.