Review: “Warcraft: The Beginning”

I went to see Warcraft: The Beginning today. I had few expectations, because it is a computer wargame turned into a CGI-heavy movie. But I was pleasantly surprised. The characters had more depth than expected (particularly the Orcs), the plot more turns and twists, and the battles more lethal outcomes (verily, anyone can die in war).

Also, no sentimentality and no info dumps; the action starts in medias res and then it is full speed ahead when the Orc Horde’s vanguard reaches the Kingdom of Stormwind for the first time by gating in from their ravaged home world and taking the humans by surprise.

No significant spoilers below.

The main human plotline is how king Llane of Stormwind has to handle a major war by mobilizing whatever military and magical resources are available. The prospective allies are wary and magic does not always deliver what is expected. The Stormwinders’ views on honor and bravery fit well with the pseudo-medieval society: a knight must be ready to lay down his life for the monarch and the realm.

The main Orkish plotline deal with how the vanguard is supposed to reenergize the transfer portal to let the whole Horde through. The portal is fueled by soul force and such fell magic does not comply with the Orcs’ traditional views on honor. Barbarians, certainly, but with firm customs dealing with propriety: “Orcs do not lie!” is a statement repeated at key events. A massive human sacrifice is also hard to arrange when the humans fight back.

Anyhow, the movie ends with a closure plus lots of loose ends for a sequel that I would like to see: three protagonists are about to face big challenges and somebody seems destined to become the local Moses.

A plus for the strong female characters, both human and Orkish; half-Orc Garona (depicted above) is my favorite protagonist. Another plus for the unusually profound depiction of the Orcs.

I therefore give the movie four “For the Alliance!” out of five.

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