Warcraft: Weariness of war

Lifelike:The orcs are brought to life with the attentionto detail we see in graphic novel artwork.  

Warcraft begins with a character and his pregnant wife. Their homeland, Draenor, is in danger and he tells her that they need to find a safe home for their child.

They are orcs (fictional humanoid creatures), grotesque and fascinating to look at, in a freak-showish voyeuristic way. But with this moment, Warcraft humanises them, a rare quality in high fantasies. It prepares us for a film where orcs would be given as much importance as the humans and where there is no clear Good versus Evil.

The plot itself substantiates this notion. With their home in danger and the last of their clans on the verge of extinction, they have nowhere to go but to Azeroth, the home of humans. In order to do that they have to pass through a portal, that also requires powers that are drawn from sucking life from other living beings. One can guess where the rest of the plot goes.

The humans defend themselves against the intruders and there is a massive battle in the end. It is a predictable plot but it doesn’t come across as a one-sided story. The orcs aren’t exactly shown to be in a morally wrong position. They are merely trying to survive.

Genre: War
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast:Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster
Runtime: 123 minutes

But as the film proceeds, it becomes increasingly clear that Warcraft is just another fantasy film that fails to engage at an emotional level. It has some visual flair it owing to its video games origins: the 3D, for a change, works and it is also brighter than most of what we see today in 3D. The orcs, with their tusks jutting out from the lower jaw, are brought to life with the attention to detail we see in graphic novel artwork. It looks like an extended version of the video game, and that is how it is meant to be I’m sure. The settings and backgrounds look and feel unrealistic: there is little dirt and texture as in, say, a Game of Thrones; although it shares Ramin Djawadi, the show’s composer. I’ve never played the games so I’m not sure how true director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) has remained visually to the source material. But as a sensuous experience, Warcraft is a lot better than some of the CGI-heavy crap we see nowadays.

But all of this is secondary to the story or characters, neither of which click. When Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), our human hero faces a tragedy, we feel nothing. When a primary character dies, we feel nothing. And like all fantasies, this too has its own lingo and overarching philosophies.

The writing lacks the simple profundity that epics ought to have.

Lines such as “From light comes darkness, from darkness comes light” come across as insipid and uninspired. And when a crucial moment requires us to recall it, the scene naturally falls flat. I’m all for video games being turned into movies, but Warcraft lacks the depth and richness of literature.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 9:12:36 PM |

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