Review: Warcraft: The Beginning – Warcraft (2016)


Director: Duncan Jones | 123 minutes | action, adventure, fantasy | Actors: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Burkely Duffield, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Glenn Ennis , Terry Notary, Elena Wurlitzer, Michael Adamthwaite, Anna Van Hooft

The history of the Warcraft universe dates back to 1994, when the very first Warcraft video game saw the light. It would be the start of a series of wildly popular games that would eventually culminate in the celebrated World of Warcraft. All these years, the history of the universe has been further explored, with what fans affectionately call lore. Not only the games contributed to this, also countless books and internet pages have contributed to these extensive chronicles. And now the film has also joined.

The question, however, is how the viewer can experience such a film without any prior knowledge. It could be that the makers have succumbed to simplifying history. Something that would undoubtedly make millions of fans rub their heads. Another option is that the creative team of “Warcraft: The Beginning” has desperately wanted to stick to its own extensive history. For a layman it would be impossible to follow. Balance is the magic word here. The man responsible for that is cinematographic prodigy Duncan Jones (“Moon”, “Source Code”).

And Jones is quite successful at that. His movie broadly tells the story of the very first Warcraft game. Although there are some storylines to precede, that is a nice introduction to the whole thing. In short, it comes down to the following. The people of Azeroth lead a peaceful life until a strange kind of creatures colonized the planet out of nowhere.

It turns out to be the Orcs, who, led by the evil Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), have come up with a plan to make Azeroth their home. Split into bloodthirsty clans they are able to conquer the defenseless land little by little. The Frostwolves, led by their brave foreman Durotan (Toby Kebbell), are also part of the battle. But as Gul’dan becomes increasingly possessed by Fel, a devastating form of magic, Durotan and his people begin to feel a pang of conscience. Especially now that a small Orc is on the way.

People do not know what is happening to them. Only knight Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) begins to suspect that an evil storm is coming. Together with wizard-in-training Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) he tries to figure out what exactly is wrong. A traitor in their midst doesn’t make their search any easier. Only rapprochement with the Frostwolves can offer a solution.

Jones chooses to tell the story gradually. As an uninitiated spectator, the beginning is therefore quite difficult to follow. But persistence wins. As more cards are put on the table, “Warcraft” not only becomes easier to understand, but the film also gains in excitement and spectacle. Jones’s courageous approach is rewarded.

He is also brave in his detailed and faithful cinematography. Jones seems to have deliberately wanted to maintain a game staging. The camera is often in such an impossible position that it makes it appear as if the image was created completely digitally. Although CGI is not surprisingly more than a major role, the camerawork nowhere feels completely fake. Because of this form of filming, ‘Warcraft’ looks like one large lifelike, non-interactive cut scene, also because of the many floating camera movements and rapid editing. It is not all heaven storming, all the more entertaining.

Thematically, however, “Warcraft: The Beginning” does not amount to much. The fear of the strange, the attachment to own traditions and the self-preservation by seeking the attack; that’s in short what it all comes down to. And that while humans and Orcs are more alike than they themselves think possible. There are bad, but also good Orcs. Just as is the case with people. It allows the creators to share commitment across the two factions. Both are equally important, just like in the original video games. That paves the way for specific character involvement. While “Warcraft: The Beginning” attempts to develop character and emotional depth, it remains in the shadow of the action.

In the end there are enough questions for a follow-up. Where exactly do the Orcs come from? What is the role of the dark magic Fel in this? And what about that traitor exactly? Judging by the games, it will not stop there and many more sequels can be expected. As long as the narrative balance remains intact for new viewers and old fans, “Warcraft: The Beginning” can be a highly successful film series. to become. With Duncan Jones at the helm, the omens look good.

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