Warcraft: The Beginning
(M) Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell
Am I the only one in the world who has no clue about the online video game World of Warcraft (WoW) and its world of orcs, humans and wizards? If you are like me, then here’s a handy synopsis of the game upon which Warcraft: The Beginning is based:
“World of Warcraft (WoW) is a multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994.” Click here to read more.
In trolling through the background for this review, I found a multitude of fan websites, which exposed the depth of the number of people who have much more to say about active participation in these fantasy worlds. But the key thing I found to take away was that World of Warcraft has a massive worldwide fan base that easily justifies this film coming into existence. At the premiere screening I was able to attend, the feeling could be described as unbridled enthusiasm from a multitude of men with black hoodies, emblazoned with WoW references and a shared love for excessive facial hair. As the lights went down, there seemed to be an unspoken desire from the audience to have the ability to pass into the vast Warcraft world of Azeroth, to fight alongside their on-screen counterparts.
The fantasy world of Warcraft: The Beginning is a realm of creatures and men whose lives rise and fall on the swing of a battle-axe or sword. At this movie’s kick-off, we meet clans of orcs under the evil leadership of orc wizard Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), who strives to get his species out of their dying world. He guides them through a portal into the parallel world of Azeroth that is inhabited by humans. Under the military leadership of Blackhand (Clancy Brown), the orcs go forward to fight against the human horde. However, unrest ensues in the orc camp due to the questioning heart of the leader of the Frostworld clan, Durotan (Toby Kebbel). This chieftain of a minor orc clan desires to live alongside the humans and is willing to go up against his own species to achieve peace. He must reach out to human warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), who has his own goals to protect his king, family and country (yet he does prefer to find a peaceful solution to this war of orcs and men).
It can be said from the outset that Warcraft: The Beginning is for the fans of this gaming world. Director Duncan Jones attempts to achieve the daunting task of appealing to those who regularly inhabit this virtual world while, in the process, trying to capture the hearts of the average cinema-goer. He attempts this feat by spending the majority of the budget on the CGI, but fails to work on the development of his story. The visual effects are perfect for the big screen, as if the behind-the-scenes wizards were given free reign to create this visual spectacle. But in focusing on the effects, Jones relies heavily on fan’s knowing the basic storyline and characters of the game of Warcraft. The cheers and laughter that ensued during the screening proved that most of the writing was peppered with “in-jokes” for the benefit of fans. For the non-gamer, most of the dialogue, jokes and story miss the mark and will cause more frustration than cheers.
Two other victims of Warcraft: The Beginning‘s strong reliance on visual effects were the sound quality and poor use of acting talent. The sound effects failed to rise to the same quality of the CGI; the orcs are hard to hear and understand, which adds to storyline confusion. On the human side, the cast was left with a mediocre script that becomes laughable after awhile. Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), and Ben Foster (The Program) are wasted in unfortunate roles that should have left them wondering whether they had made a poor choice.
The overall experience of Warcraft: The Beginning is comical, although it’s not supposed to be humorous. It also is confusing, when it should have been crystal clear. For the average viewer who isn’t a diehard fan of the online game, there is not much to celebrate.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Should we strive for war or peace? That is one of the greatest questions humanity has always faced. Throughout the Bible, both war and peace are considered and experienced. So, what is the answer? This is a topic worth studying out and seeking the answer.
- What does the Bible say about war? (Psalm 144:1,Ecclesiastes 3:8)
- What does the Bible have to say about peace? (Matthew 5:9, John 18:36)
- Can mankind’s hearts change from evil to good? (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21)
Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger
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