Sunday, June 12, 2016

Diva's Movie Review: "Warcraft: The Beginning" is Made for the WoW Fan

"World of Warcraft" (WoW) is an immensely popular multi-player game by Blizzard Entertainment, where one could role-play as different fantasy characters like mages, elves, humans and orcs to fulfill various quests. Millions of player accounts have been created since its first version was released in 1994.

With recent technological advances in the field of VFX, the company was keen to translate its success across to the big screen. In fact, a Warcraft movie was announced in 2006 as a project undertaken with Legendary Pictures, which means it has taken about 10 years for it to arrive at its final version.

"Warcraft: The Beginning", as suggested in the title, bypasses the recent WoW game scenarios and heads right back to the start - the battle of Orcs vs Humans.

(Be careful, some very minor spoilers ahead!)

As the Orc world Draenor decays to oblivion, thousands of orcs led by power-hungry sorcerer Gul'dan (Daniel Wu) are brought to the kingdom of Stormwind in Azeroth via a portal so that their kind can survive. For his purposes, Gul'dan uses the fel, a corrupting green-coloured juju that feeds on the life forces of living things.

To stop the orcs from capturing and killing people from his land, the King of Stormwind, Llane (Dominic Cooper), asks his chief commander Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and a young mage, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) to head to the citadel of Karazhan to seek assistance from the land's mage-protector, Medivh (Ben Foster). Garona (Paula Patton) a rescued half-orc, half-human slave provides the bridge between the orcs and humans mainly because of her language and negotiation skills. (Our Red Dot Island gahmen would love her. Bi-lingualism, FTW!)

Meanwhile, Durotan (Toby Kebbell) a noble chief of an orc tribe, has grown increasingly suspicious of Gul'Dan's motives and attempts to an alliance with the humans but was betrayed by some of his so-called buddies. This unfortunate incident sets of a war between the orcs and humans.

Director Duncan Jones' vision of "Warcraft" is awashed with eye-popping colour, and filled with very beautiful realized settings, especially in the orcs camps and Karazhan. The costumes and weapons are super-detailed and gorgeous, right down to the meticulous hair style and ornaments of the orcs. It's evident that a lot of love was lavished into the production of this movie.

Red Dot Diva watched the movie in IMAX 3D and felt it was very immersive. It was as if she was visually trapped within a WoW game itself. Pretty mind-blowing stuff. She was swept away in the fantasy setting also because of the superb motion capture and voice performances, especially that of Toby Kebbell, who played the rebel orc Durotan. Through him, the orcs, who usually end up as one of a million faceless foot soldiers like those in the Lord of the Ring movies, have a voice, emotion and meaning to their actions. In "Warcraft", the orcs have their own stories to tell.

Toby Kebbell as Durotan

Taking on the role of the warrior Lothar, Travis Fimmel has been given the heavy duty of anchoring most of the scenes in "Warcraft". He was suitably charming, emotionally conflicted and fierce, although Red Dot Diva thought he was cruising a little too easily in this movie by just being Ragnar Lothbrok, the main protagonist from History channel's TV series "Vikings" - albeit dressed in medieval knight armour.

While females characters usually end up having to be rescued in most shows, Garona and Durotan's wife Draka (Anna Galvin) provide some of the crucial action in "Warcraft", bringing a much needed balance to the testosterone-driven battleground. In fact, Red Dot Diva wishes there was time for more of Garona in the movie.

Even as a non-WoW gamer, Red Dot Diva enjoyed the movie a lot. It really wasn't as awful as how the critics have said it was. But perhaps, this was also because she reads fantasy books and is at home with multiple character storylines of kingdoms, alliances and factions.

Unlike the elegance of "Lord of the Rings", "Warcraft" moves along at a brisk pace. There was no time for a snoozefest, and if a movie doesn't get Red Dot Diva bored when she's brain-tired after a long day at work, that's a major plus point in her books.

If you're already a WoW gamer, the movie's made for you. And if you're a fan of books by Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weiss or Terry Goodkind, you will get a kick out of seeing the fantasy tropes played out on the big screen like never before. There's no need for deep character studies in this movie, one just need to sit back and take the ride that Duncan Jones has planned for you.

The only small complaints Red Dot Diva has was that "Warcraft" spends a lot of time setting up the characters, right up to the last few minutes concerning a minor one. So, when the viewers start to care for them, the movie comes abruptly to a close.

"Warcraft" is now a massive hit in China. It is currently the highest grossing foreign movie release in the country, bringing in USD 156 million in five days. Red Dot Diva is hoping that this means it will not may take too long before the next "Warcraft" movie comes our way.


Check out the action-filled trailer here:

Watch the featurette about the making of the movie here:

"Warcraft: The Beginning" (rated PG-13) is currently shown at local cinemas island wide.

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