Thursday, 2 June 2016

Does Warcraft Follow in John Carter's Footsteps?

The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilisation faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonise another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home. 

Duncan Jones embraces Warcraft's world with commitment but when it comes to charging it with life, it is quite difficult. His adaptation of the online game has a sense of grandeur but also a strong fixation with CGI spectacle which makes the emotional core lifeless. Though it is clear that as a professed Warcraft fan, he clearly has put a lot of love and care into fleshing out a story. Warcraft is an expensive, high-fantasy epic reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Newcomers - like myself - have a lot to get up to speed with here. As far as I understand all this, our home world is Azeroth, a Middle-Earth-like realm along the lines of Medieval Europe. The population is mostly human, mostly white, but there are also dwarfs, elves and various other mythical creatures in the fringes. 

There's a lot going on and yet we're never quite engaged with the storyline. In Lord of the Rings, we had the Shire, the Hobbit's idyllic pastoral realm, as an image of what everyone was fighting for. Here we barely see Azeroth, outside the Royal Castles, Wizard's towers or epic battlefields. There are much to admire in its ambitions and its design. Still, I don't know why I have this John Carter feeling about it. Like the 2012 Martian Disney flop, Warcraft is a complex, jargon-heavy, battle epic. This film occasionally manages to feel both rushed and dull, impressively staged and disengaging as well. Indeed, the heavy use of CGI and its awkward interactions with the live-action elements, distance the audience even more. 

Overall, this film feels incomplete and if Warcraft's fans want a sequel, every single one of the 12 million players - even their extended family and friends - is going to need to turn up to see this one, if they want this film to get past its first instalment.

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