Warcraft *1/2

A mind numbing, unimaginative bore that will test even the most forgiving fan’s patience.

Is it worth $10? No

“Warcraft” proves that there is a very thin line between quality fantasy like “The Lord of the Rings” and utter trash. “Warcraft” has all of the signifiers of a grand, fantasy epic like “Rings,” replete with a magical setting and fantasy characters like dwarves (though, they do nothing), elves (ditto), and orcs. Behind the scenes, it has a significant budget and a director, Duncan Jones, who (reportedly) has a love for the source material, a video game in this case. There is even a horn and drum heavy soundtrack provided by Ramin Djawadi, who scored that other famous fantasy series, “Game of Thrones.”

Sadly, despite all of this, the film is low rent, predictable, and worst of all, boring.

The story takes place in the fantasy world of Azeroth. What sets it off from every other fantasy world we’ve seen before is… nothing, really. This world’s peaceful cohabitation between humans and other races (the little seen dwarves and elves mentioned earlier, et al.) is torn asunder by the arrival of orcs (big, goblin-like dudes) through a portal connected to their dying home world. Ferocious and Klingon-like, they lay waste to the land, planning to take it over. Standing in their way is human King Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his army led by the film’s hero, Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). What follows includes intrigue, deception, and the development of a co-hero on the orc’s side, Durotan (Toby Kebbell), who doesn’t like the how and why of his people’s actions.

Despite some effective special effects, mostly in the detailed, expressive faces of the orcs, the movie just feels cheap. How cheap? Dominic Cooper parades through the entire film with a ridiculous, misshapen hairpiece that clings desperately to his head. Adding insult to injury is a crown plopped on top that somehow makes the wig even more preposterous. He looks less like a regal king and more like a cosplayer who rushed to put his costume together the night before.

Then there’s Paula Patton in patently ridiculous half orc, half-human make-up that’s almost more embarrassing than Robin Thicke’s “Paula.” Her performance isn’t bad, mind you. She, admirably, gives it all she’s got. But she’s impossible to take seriously with her green skin, matted hair, and mini-tusks protruding from behind her lower lip.

Patton isn’t the only actor giving it a go, though. Travis Fimmel (“Maggie’s Plan”) is especially engaging and tries to imbue his character with some roguish personality. Sadly the writing lets him down with a thinly written hero that’s all cliché, leaving the actor adrift, flailing hopelessly against the film’s overwhelming tide of banality.

And that’s the biggest problem with “Warcraft.” Everything is cliché. We’ve seen every story beat, every character before with nothing new or interesting is added to either. For example: Anduin’s son (Burkely Duffield) shows up early in the film, and of course the two are estranged and have unresolved issues, and that can mean only one possible outcome. They might as well have put a clock on the screen counting down to his (spoiler alert, but not really) demise.

But I could live with all of the predictability if the film would have at least been visually interesting, exciting, dramatic, fun… or something! But it isn’t any of those things. It’s just another slog through unimaginative CGI landscapes, most of which tend to lean toward different hues of ugly brown. Sometimes, though, they add a lot of gray, yippee! The few times they do go somewhere interesting, we only get a glimpse and are quickly whisked away, usually because of the film’s poor pacing and editing; every scene feels like it’s cut off too soon or cut into too late.

“Warcraft” is a sad trek through boredom that in the end has the nerve to be nothing more than a two hour set up for more movies! It is so bereft of anything engaging, interesting, or remotely imaginative that I found myself wanting to doodle in my notebook rather than take notes. After all, anything I could draw, even with my limited skills, even in the dark of the theater, would still be more imaginative than anything projected on the giant screen in front of me.

Once again, though, I seem to be at odds with the audience. After the film’s interminable two hours were up, the crowd at my screening greeted the film with a round of applause. At least I wasn’t the only person not clapping: Later, safely away from the theater, I asked my brother, who had accompanied me and will probably never speak to me again, if he had fallen asleep during the movie because his breathing pattern suggested that he had. “No,” he replied glumly, “but I gave it a good try!”

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