Video game-based 'Warcraft' is a disappointing, hot mess
Video game-based ‘Warcraft’ is a disappointing, hot mess

Video games have a pretty lousy track record of being adapted into movies. “Warcraft” upholds this proud tradition by being a disappointing, hot mess.

There are some intriguing tidbits floating around in this movie that manage to keep you engaged, but by the time it is clear this is nothing more than a setup for potential sequels down the road, the lack of resolution squanders any trace of goodwill the movie had built up.

What was most promising about this movie was the presence of writer/director Duncan Jones (son of the late, great David Bowie), whose previous credits include the edgy, smart, sci-fi flicks “Moon” and “Source Code.”

Here, it feels like Jones may have bit off a little more than he can chew. “Warcraft” is one of those immersive-world video games where you sit down as a somewhat normal person and then when you look up you have no idea what day it is, you find yourself surrounded by pizza boxes and your mother is screaming at you to move out of the basement.

In an effort to recreate that deep-dive experience, Jones does deliver on the pomp and bombast required by an “epic” fantasy, but for some reason, he left out the brains and heart.

The plot has the feel of a book report on “Lord of the Rings” written by a sleep-deprived 11th grader.

In the peaceful realm of Azeroth humans, dwarves, wizards and various other mythical creatures all live in relative harmony.

But then one day a band of giant, computer-generated warriors called orcs arrive from their dying world through a portal generated by their black-magic dabbling ruler Gul’dan (Daniel Wu).

The cast is bland and humorless across the board with each filling out some standard fantasy trope. There is the gallant warrior Lothar (Travis Fimmel, whose character name constantly reminded me of the old Mike Myers “Saturday Night Live” sketch “Lothar of the Hill People”), the rebellious mage (Ben Schnetzer), the noble king (Dominic Cooper), the half-orc, half-human distrusted by both sides (Paula Patton) and a mysterious wizard who serves as guardian of the realm (Ben Foster, an actor I really like, but who seems, if not miscast, at least misunderstood).

The most relatable character in the bunch is one of those computer-generated orcs. Durotan (voiced by Toby Kebbell) is an orc chieftain who is conflicted as he wants to do right by his people but does not approve of the black-magic carnage caused by his leader. Unfortunately, Durotan’s character arc winds up being mostly pointless, which is not something you want to leave an audience with if you expect them to come back for a sequel.

Again, the special effects are top-shelf and the musical score thunders along with the action, but in the end, it is really hard to care about any of it.

“Warcraft” succeeds at being big and loud, but beyond that, the only sound you hear is “flop.”

“Warcraft” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence.

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