I’m not a gamer, but I did dabble with World of Warcraft for a few hours to appease my boyfriend (I thought it was ok, but not ok enough to pay a tenner a month to get to the higher levels) so I probably a bit know more than the average person about the world and what to possibly expect from the film. Honestly, I expected it to be a bit crap… maybe even a lot crap.
But here I stand ready to give it a well-earned 7/10.
It starts a bit fragmented as you go flick from orcs to humans and the various cities of man and I was dreading the whole film feeling disjointed (this was about 10 minutes into the 2 and a bit hour film), but was pleasantly surprised. Once the main characters had been established as main characters it started to flow quite nicely and what I liked most about the whole film is that you can empathise with both sides.
The orc army or the horde as I should be calling them, focuses mostly on one guy who’s name I can’t pronounce but he’s a chieftain of an orc clan and not a bad guy. He has a wife, becomes a father and there’s obvious love there. The orcs aren’t even invading as a land grab, but because their home-world is all but dead.
Then there’s the humans. Their villages and towns are being savaged and they’re up against an enemy they’ve never seen before and don’t even know what to call. There’s a Guardian, a wizard that all look to for wisdom and help (think Gandalf, just way younger and not so much facial hair). Other races exist as well – dwarves, elves, mages and a few others I guess, but the elves don’t really feature. Neither do the dwarves come to that except to give someone a “boom stick” – their version of a flintlock pistol.
And this should create a completely awesome film, but, well… it was kind of… meh, really. It was alright, the CGI was pretty darn good and I never got bored. But I was never gripped, never got sad when one of the main players died or was betrayed (and there’s quite a lot of that). It’s the kind of film that when it comes out on DVD you might put on in the background whilst sitting on your laptop, or if it’s on TV start watching part way through as you could pretty much work out what’s happened so far even if you’ve never seen it before. I guess that’s because it’s a film to set the scene for the rest of the franchise. It’s a beginning of the war film. The Orcs are more ‘raid and pillage’ than ‘plan and strategise’.
However, there’s a great sense of care that’s been taken with it. There are obvious bonds between the characters, there’s the father-son dynasty thing going on but women are still warriors on both sides. You still see way more female orcs than humans (oh how could we possibly have lots of human women in harm’s way?), and even then it’s not many so I think they missed the mark on that one, unless they were doing a sort of there are X amount of women characters created by players and we’re going to represent that, in which case they did probably get it right, but still. There could have been more women, but then you could probably say that about every film. Having said that, of the female leads they did have (3) they were all strong, independent of their love interest and one is absolutely vital for the plot.
The film was made with care too. The director Duncan Jones has a lot of people to please – Hollywood business people, fans, critics, people who haven’t played the game, and whilst I don’t think anyone’s going to be overwhelmed with the film, you can tell he cares enough about it to be true to the game, and the genre. The world is believable even if there’s a lack of time to truly get to know any of the characters enough to care about them as there’s equal time spent with each side of the war.
Does that mean I wish it was longer? Errr… well, no. I still don’t think it would do it justice. Do I think it should have been from the human’s perspective? Not really. Otherwise it would have been a band of merry men and a gryphon going to save some villages and a super powerful mage gets in on it every now and then. With the Orcs it would have been a lot of making camp and going to raid and pillage. The story being told from both sides was probably the best thing about it, but it needs more depth and more… boldness, more grab you by the throat and amaze you-ness.
But I don’t hate it. I’m giving it a 7/10 after all.
I’d still recommend seeing it if you’re looking for easy entertainment, but be prepared to be left a little underwhelmed. And for your significant other who used to play a lot of WoW to natter about it for a couple of hours and then go back to playing it, just so they can get a sword and shield that features in the film.