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Warcraft (the Beginning) (3D)


Stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Ben Schnetzer, Toby Kebbell, Clancy Brown, Ruth Negga, Daniel Wu

Director: Duncan Jones

A Lord of the Rings fantasy adventure rip-off based on the popular computer game. Its war between men and orcs is impressively mounted, with a strong assist from CGI special effects that give director Jones (son of David Bowie) a big helping hand in evoking the fantasy world quite well.

The seriously-tusked orcs, although massively ugly (their women have tiny joke fangs to make them appear less so) are quite sympathetically treated here, as they seek a new realm to replace their own (we never learn what happened to it). A female orc-hybrid (Patton) goes over to the humans after being captured, and improbably becomes one of their leaders under King Llane Wrynn (Cooper).

The principal characters, however, are the gallant knight Lothar (Fimmel) and his two sons, one of whom, Khadgar (Schneitzer) seems to be developing magic powers, and is much given to scribbling luminous symbols on the ground.

Both sides depend on what amount to witch doctors to protect them and drive them on; unfortunately, both, like Saruman in Lord of the Rings, have gone over to the dark side: the orcs' Gul'dan (Wu) is uncomplicatedly duplicitous and evil, but the humans' Guardian (Foster), previously upright and dependable, seems to be slowly turning into the Devil Incarnate.

One side has giant bird-steeds, the other enormous timber wolves, and there are lots of pitched battles between orcs and men as well as magic duels.

For what it is, the piece couldn't have been made much more effectively and is obviously intended to be the first of several. So, as an ex-colleague of mine once wisely intoned - people who like this sort of thing will find that this is the sort of thing they like.

Although being advertised as Warcraft: The Beginning, both the front and end credits simply bill the film as Warcraft.

David Quinlan

USA/China/India 2016. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Fotokem.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 May 2016