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Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)

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Source Code and Moon were incredible films, but also relatively small-scale from Duncan Jones. Warcraft: The Beginning marks a huge step up on the silver screen for Jones. But it was always going to target a fairly streamlined audience with it being adapted from the popular computer games.

Previously, video game adaptations have always fallen short of the mark with the less-than-forgettable Resident Evil franchise and the Angelina Jolie-led Tomb Raider duo. Recently it seems as though the studios have stepped up the mark by producing a Michael Fassbender-led Assassin’s Creed on a much larger scale.

There was always going to be some apprehension going into this film as I have played some of the Warcraft games and thoroughly enjoyed them becoming engrossed in the world of Azeroth. With a film of this size, it was always going to be heavily reliant on CGI-animation, but it was incredible how quickly that is forgotten with how Jones manages to immerse you into the world of Azeroth.

As this was a franchise essentially dipping it’s toes in the pond, the story wasn’t going to be too outlandish, but put an interesting twist on the good vs evil tale when it comes to the fantasy genre. This time Warcraft manifests the good and evil in the Human race and the Orcish race, respectively.

Jones chose to lead Warcraft: The Beginning with the Orcs on the edge of a dying world and passing through a portal into the land of Azeroth to escape their dying homeland. The now-banded together Horde pass through this ominous green portal being powered by the shaman Gul’Dan (Daniel Wu) who glows ominously with the same green glow.

Durotan (Toby Kebbell) is amongst the selected few of the Horde that are to pass through the gate and tasked with pillaging the Human villages to strengthen a portal to bring forth the rest of the Horde. Immediately Jones has managed to beautiful create two lands that could not be more opposite, from the dusty settlement of Draenor to the beautifully wooded greens of Azeroth.

The Orcish Horde are met with opposition from the charismatic Andiun Lothar (Travis Fimmel), the right hand man to the King. And what develops of the next two hours is a battle amongst to the two races, one trying to survive and the other trying to protect their homeland, but Jones manages to have the story go from strength to strength instead of plodding along. Although it isn’t groundbreaking, the story is told incredibly well. (Something Duncan Jones is pretty darn good at doing)

Warcraft would be nothing without some magic involved, but this incorporation could have gone one of two ways, but Jones had the Shaman’s and Mage’s plotted perfectly throughout the story from Medivh’s (Ben Foster) fel-killing spell, to Gul’Dan’s mercilessly sucking souls from helpless victims.

What I found when I was watching Warcraft was that I was becoming more and more engrossed in the story and the characters. This could be down to my prior enjoyment of this world, but Duncan Jones has done an incredible job of finding the right mix of characters, story and action throughout the 120-minute runtime. The leads of Durotan and Anduin were what was expected, but it was the support from Garona (Paula Patton), Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) and Medivh all pulling in great performances, especially as the story evolves around these three and their parts to play in the climatic (also, foreseeable) battle.

What I was not anticipated was a couple of twists that are incorporated into the story. Now, it’s not to the level of Moon and Source Code but there was little nuances that worked with the story to make Warcraft: The Beginning that little bit more enjoyable.

I thought that my bias could tip Warcraft in it’s favour, but my bias was insignificant for the amount of enjoyment I got from watching this. The characters were brilliant from start to finish and made the story even better when it was being unravelled. Jones managed to completely immerse me within this familiar world that I hadn’t visited for some years, but it all came flooding back, from that ominous green glow to the majestic capital of Stormwind.

I honestly thought that the CGI-heavy characters would cause an issue for me in this film, but when you are that immersed in the story and the characters it really does take a backseat as the time just melts away when watching. Jones perfectly selected the music for each scene and really became effective and did not seem disjointed in anyway at all.

If you hadn’t of gather. I really, really, really, enjoyed this film. I would be happy for more instalments of this universe. Duncan Jones keeps seemingly going strength to strength with his films, but Warcraft proves he has the grit to hang with the big blockbusters.

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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