One of the stupidest, most confusing movies of the decade.
Movie Review #1,064
Distributed by Universal Pictures. Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Running time: 2 hours, 3 minutes. Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence. Released June 10, 2016. Directed by Duncan Jones. Screenplay by Charles Leavitt and Duncan Jones. Starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Callum Keith Rennie, Terry Notary, and Michael Adamthwaite.
It’s never a good sign when the director’s close relative dies in the middle of production. Prime example: Ridley Scott in 2013. His brother Tony died while he was filming “The Counselor”, which, as it turns out, is one of stupidest, most confusing movies of the decade. That label is equally true of “Warcraft”, directed by Duncan Jones. We all mourned the death of the late David Bowie, but I’m sure Jones mourned the tragedy far more, being that he is the legend’s son. The evidence is the final product of Jones’s latest film. The movie is so painstakingly bad that it seems to be Jones’s way of taking out his wrath on the world. The message he intends to give his audience can be whittled down to a quote from “The Princess Bride”: “You killed my father, prepare to die.”
I couldn’t tell you what this movie was supposed to be about if I tried. I have never played World of Warcraft, nor do I intend to after seeing this beastly adaptation, and apparently that is an inhibiting factor to my ability to enjoy, not to mention understand, the film. World of Warcraft fans will get it, apparently. It’s like going into a movie not having read the book on which it is based, and spending two hours being told, “Sucks for you, you should’ve read the book.” My basic understanding of “Warcraft” is that the orcs are the bad guys and the humans are the good guys. The orcs are also really f–king ugly. They look like nothing more than ugly humans with prosthetic horns and tusks and an awful lot of makeup. It’s probably CGI, though, given the film’s enormous budget of $160 million. If you’re dealing with that large of a number, the CGI should at least look decent. Instead, most of the special effects appear, in an unfortunately humorous way, to have been taken directly from a video game with graphics that are, to say the least, unimpressive. Why a movie as visually distasteful as “Warcraft” was released in 3-D, while films with creative and clever visuals like “Deadpool” aren’t, is beyond me. I watched “Warcraft” in 3-D and it is the single biggest waste of the concept I have ever seen. Perhaps Universal knew they weren’t going to turn much of a profit with this film—not in the States, at least—and went with a marketing concept that would at least help it break even. Which didn’t happen at all, by the way: “Warcraft” barely grossed ¼ of its budget.
“Warcraft” is virtually all style and no substance. That’s a rather unfortunate when the style sucks and maintains no sense of originality, much less cinematic value or purpose. But I would not have preferred it to be all substance and no style, because “Warcraft” is equally anemic when it comes to substance. There are supposedly writers—Charles Leavitt and director Jones—but their job here seems to be expendable. Y’all can see that I’m not much of a writer, but I guarantee that I could sit down with a pen and a stack of paper, and within two hours, I could have written the same movie with far better dialogue—even with my below-basic understanding of the Warcraft universe. Worse yet, all we get from the cast, which is composed almost entirely of unknowns, is a flat reading. The performances are so dry and monotonous that it is very difficult to take any scene in the movie seriously. The villain Blackhand, who is chieftain of the Blackrock orcs (I had to look that up on Wikipedia and I still don’t know what it means), is voiced by Clancy Brown, otherwise known as the voice of Mr. Krabs. I think that illustrates my point well enough.