I only knew Warcraft as a computer video game which gained prominence in the 1990s. I never really played it, so I knew nothing about it except for its name which was part of the pop culture in those days. This year, a film version of Warcraft makes it on the big screen. I did not originally have plans to watch it. However, since there was a special screening of this film organized as a fundraiser for charity patients, I took my family to go watch it anyhow.
Gigantic hulking beings with warthog-like fangs called Orcs had to search for a new world to settle in because their world Draenor was already laid in waste. Their ruthless enchanted leader Gul'dan opened a green magical portal into the peaceful world of Azeroth where humans lived. Faced with these invincible intruders, King Llane and his trusted knight Anduin Lothar led the seemingly futile campaign to save their world.
However, Durotan, a thoughtful Orc chieftain and new father, and Garona, a female Orc with human features, see the evil in their leader and sought an alliance with the humans to overthrow Gul'dan. Over all these events, the supernatural Guardian Medivh was expected to intervene on the humans' behalf. However, a young magic apprentice Khadgar notices some circumstances which make him suspect something sinister was afoot.
The lead actors Travis Fimmel (as Lothar) and especially Toby Kebbell (behind the brutish exterior of Durotan) were both unknown to me, but they were able deliver their pure heroism with heart. Paula Patton took full advantage her unconventional beauty as Garona to full sympathetic effect. There are moments of humor mostly from the character of Khadgar, with the boyish wide-eyed actor Ben Schnetzer in a likeable performance. Ben Taylor has a talent for portraying characters of unclear loyalties in his films, and his Medivh here follows suit. Dominic Cooper has gone a long way from beach boy Sky in "Mamma Mia" to the regal King Llane here.
As expected from a fantasy film derived from a computer game, Warcraft was composed almost entirely of computer-generated imagery apart from its human characters. I was not really expecting much from this film, though I did like the "Prince of Persia" and "Need for Speed" films. The slow build up of the film's premise at the beginning, with all the strange names and jargon was discouraging. However, as I got into the groove of the storytelling, I actually got hooked into the heartfelt story beneath the CGI. The CGI of the Orcs may have looked over the top, but I have to give them props for painstaking details differentiating each one from another.
There were many derivative elements from the Lord of the Rings saga, with the term Orcs a prime example. The Guardian seemed to inspired by wizards like Gandalf and sorcerers like Sauron. There were minor characters who liked like the Elves and the Dwarves. The appearance of the giant eagle-horse Lothar rode called to mind the Hippogriff in classic Roman mythology, as well as the one we saw in the Harry Potter films. There was even a Biblical Moses reference thrown in the mix.
I cannot comment on how faithful this film was to the video game. I can say though that it was entertaining to watch even for someone who had no idea what the game was about. Several virtues were being extolled in this film in association with the R-13 rated violence -- nobility, loyalty, honor, sacrifice, fair play, the common good. The main drawback for me here is the length of the film, which could feel much longer than its 123 minutes at times. Since this film was subtitled "The Beginning", it was clearly laying down the groundwork for its franchise. At least, we could expect the sequels to concentrate more on stories at hand rather than the backstory, and we look forward to that. 7/10.