Warcraft (2016)

(On Cable TV, April 2017) The paradox of seeing big-budget big-screen adaptations of intensely fannish universes is that while there is a lot of material fit to be shown on-screen, there is also a ton of mythology to explain to non-fans. The better examples of the form manage to weave an accessible story atop a universe with substantial depth. The worst examples come across as a hodgepodge of inside jokes that require half a day of reading in order to grasp. Warcraft is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. The more than two decades of accumulated mythology can be felt in nearly every frame, but they often lead to choices that mystify non-fans. It doesn’t help that the main story is dull, and ends on an unsatisfying note that does nothing more than setting up the inevitable sequel. Otherwise, Warcraft does exhibit the usual characteristics of modern fantasy movies: Extensive in-your-face CGI, dynamic directing that can’t compensate for a thin story, an endless litany of invented names and minor characters, substantial self-importance, and an overall result that almost immediately fades in memory. I didn’t hate it, but neither did I like it—Director Duncan Jones doesn’t embarrass himself and must have learned a lot about effects-driven filmmaking, but he did better with his previous films. Otherwise, prospective viewers with no familiarity with the videogames should brace themselves for a torrent of new yet stale mythology—keeping track of the names, races, allegiances and largely undistinguishable characters can feel like a chore at times. Amazingly enough, this will count as an attraction for some people. I hope they enjoy the movie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *