Monday, 13 June 2016
Warcraft: The Beginning (2 Stars)
I blame J. R. R. Tolkien for this film. He didn't write enough books. He was too short-sighted when he wrote "The Hobbit" (1937) and "The Lord of the Rings" (1954). What was he doing for the rest of his life? Didn't he realise that one day film studios would be clamouring for material to make big budget films about orcs, elves and dwarfs?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was shown in the cinemas from 2001 to 2003. It was logical to make a trilogy of films, because the original story was made up of three books, or rather three double books. It was an epic story which needed an epic film series to do it justice, After an almost 10 year gap a Hobbit trilogy was made and released to the cinemas from 2012 to 2014. A trilogy? Totally unnecessary. It was only a single book, and its total number of pages is less than a third of the length of "Lord of the Rings". I didn't intend to watch any of the Hobbit films in the cinema, but I went to see the first film at the Odeon Broadway Plaza cinema for technical reasons: I wanted to see what 48 fps films look like. In my review I gave it a generous four star rating. I described it as a cautious rating which I would correct next time I watched it, but I have no intention of watching it again. All I can remember about the film, three and a half years on, is the painfully slow pacing.
The Hobbit trilogy was a commercial success. It earned $2.9 billion at the box office, slightly more than the previous trilogy. That's American billions, of course. For some reason America decided to redefine the word billion. In England (and the rest of the world) a billion is 1,000,000,000,000 but in America it's only 1,000,000,000. Why does everything have to be smaller in America? To make international trade discussions easier British economists now use the American terminology, but I consider this to be a mistake. Why didn't the Americans adapt to us? It's our language, we invented it! Why do we have to accommodate American blunders in spelling and terminology?
In the absence of a third novel by Tolkien the film studios needed to find another story about orcs, elves and dwarfs. They decided to make a film series -- yet another trilogy! -- based on the online game World of Warcraft. That's logical in a way. World of Warcraft's characters are based on the creatures in Tolkien's books.
One thing is sorely missing from the first Warcraft film: Tolkien's genius. The screenwriter Charles Leavitt is totally overwhelmed by the source material of the game, and the result is a chaotic mess. After all, the game itself has only loosely scripted storylines.
The basic plot is that the homeworld of the Orcs, Draenor, has been destroyed. They have decided to migrate to Azeroth, the homeworld of the humans. Rather than come in peace they've decided to conquer humanity. Can't we all just get along? Coupled with this is a subplot about a dark magic, the fel, which corrupts whoever uses it, whether orc or human.
After watching the film I read reviews by film critics, to see whether they agree or disagree with my feelings about the film. I don't usually agree with critics, but it's interesting to get a second opinion. In this case we think alike. "Warcraft" has been criticised for its story and its character development. As one critic writes, "You couldn’t give me three adjectives to describe any of the characters if I put a gun to your head". I couldn't have put it better myself.