FILM REVIEW: Movie version of Warcraft game fails to win me over

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WARCRAFT: THE BEGINNING (12A)

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: TRAVIS FIMMEL, PAULA PATTON, BEN FOSTER, DOMINIC COOPER, BEN SCHETZER, RUTH NEGGA, BURKELY DUFFIELD & THE VOICES OF TOBY KEBBELL, ROB KAZINSKY, CLANCY BROWN, ANNA GALVIN & DANIEL WU

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 3 MINS

DIRECTOR: DUNCAN JONES

This blockbuster treatment of the massively multiplayer online PC gaming phenomenon that is Warcraft has its heart in the right place – but ends being a muddled affair.

Sadly it’s more Dungeons and Dragons (or Eragon) than The Lord of the Rings, which is a bit of a surprise considering the stature of acclaimed director (and the late David Bowie’s son) Duncan Jones – the man behind 2009’s critically-lauded Moon (and to a lesser extent 2011’s Source Code) – who struggles to construct any real cohesion despite his obvious passion for the material at hand.

Technically there’s plenty to enjoy here – with a few interesting characters – but the plot is as lumbering as some of the giant orc protaganists and sadly never really approaches anything like exhilarating at any point.

The peaceful realm of Azeroth is potentially at the brink of war as a fearsome race of otherworldly warriors – led by the hulking magic-wielding Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) – invade the lands after fleeing their dying home.

So it’s up to the leader of the alliance, Travis Fimmel’s (from the exceptional TV series Vikings) Anduin Lothar – with a bit of magical help from guardian Medivh (Ben Foster) and rookie mage Khadgar (Ben Schetzer) – at the behest of Dominic Cooper’s king, to find a way to close the portal to stop this entire army of behemoths from colonising the kingdom.

The curveball is thrown by Frostwolf Clan noble chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell), who has sympathy for the human race after being clouded by Gul’dan’s intentions – and half-human, half-orc survivor Garona (Déjà vu’s Paula Patton), who also has to decide where her true loyalties lie.

But despite a few fleeting moments of truly noteworthy action and pockets of humour, the plotline never gets beyond plodding – and it’s really down to Fimmel and particularly Kebbell to add a watchability factor to proceedings.

And therefore sadly whether this ‘beginning’ does enough to craft a ‘middle’ and an ‘end’ is unfortunately open to conjecture at this time . . .

Rating: 2/5 – Gavin Miller