Warcraft: The Beginning | Role-playing game fails to soar on screen

For anyone who isn't a devotee of the role-playing strategy game, Duncan Jones's Warcraft: The Beginning will prove convoluted and bewildering.

For anyone who isn’t a World of Warcraft devotee, this attempt to launch a Hollywood action-fantasy franchise from the phenomenally successful role-playing strategy game will probably seem a po-faced ponderous dud. Even diehard fans may find the subtitle ‘The Beginning’ more than a tad optimistic. They, at least, will have a handle on the movie’s convoluted mythology and bewildering plot.

The action, for the uninitiated, takes place in a quasi-medieval fantasy realm of orcs and humans, wizards and warlocks, making the film look as if some of King Arthur’s lesser-known knights had stumbled into The Lord of the Rings. The story kicks off with rampaging orcs passing through a magic portal, invading the Tolkienesque fantasy-medieval realm of Dominic Cooper’s noble king Llane Wrynn.

“Tongue-tangling names”

There are, however, heroes and villains on both sides, with Travis Fimmel’s warrior Anduin Lothar and Toby Kebbell’s orc chieftain Durotan among the good, and Ben Foster’s wizard Medvih and Daniel Wu’s orc warlock Gul’dan the chief baddies, both corrupted by an evil magic known as the Fel. Paula Patton’s green-skinned, half-human, half-orc slave, Garona, meanwhile has a foot in both camps.

Understandably, anyone unversed in Warcraft will find all this extremely confusing. Director and co-writer Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, is apparently a big fan of the game, but he fails to give his movie the spark of his earlier, highly inventive sci-fi films Moon and Source Code. He does give the big battles a fair degree of clout, but the film’s CGI-boosted spectacle will probably be lost on those Warcraft newcomers still stumbling over the tongue-tangling names or boggling at the tusked orcs’ shocking underbites.

Certificate 12. Runtime 123 mins. Director Duncan Jones

Warcraft: The Beginning debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on 10 March and is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Download from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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