Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster
Directed by: Duncan Jones (“Moon,” “Source Code”)
Written by: Duncan Jones (debut) and Charles Leavitt (“Seventh Son”)
First things first: I’ve never walked out of a movie, regardless of how awful it is. I try to remain professional, evaluating each and every painful film from start to finish. 2015 tested my patience with garbage like “Blackhat,” “Jupiter Ascending,” “Entourage,” and “Seventh Son,” but 2016 had been relatively free of patience-testing movies. Then a giant lump of orc shit named “Warcraft” digitally unspooled before me in IMAX 3D and, for nearly every second of its two-hour runtime, I wanted to jump into a magic portal of my own – anything to get me the hell out of the theater.
Based on a video games series that debuted in 1994, “Warcraft” tells the story of the kingdom of Azeroth, under siege from an army of orcs led by the evil/magic/green-skinned Gul’dan (Daniel Wu). The mission of the orcs is to jump through a magical portal Gul’dan creates to grab enough humans to power the creation of an even bigger portal that will allow the entire orc army to travel through, enslaving the world. Certain orcs (some without green skin), though, namely mild-mannered Dotan (Toby Kebbell) and half-human Garona (poor, poor Paula Patton), remain skeptical of Gul’dan’s plan and his use of some deadly magic bullshit called The Fel. Defending humanity against the orcs is King Llane (Dominic Cooper), his most trusted warrior Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and magical guardian Medivh (Ben Foster). When Garona is captured during a raid, she earns the uneasy trust of the humans and proposes a cooperation with the non-green-skinned orcs to defeat Gul’dan.
Incomprehensible and interminable, “Warcraft” takes a video game with a paper-thin premise and attempts to craft a low-rent “Lord of the Rings” adventure out of a handful of generic realms, corrupt dark magic, and free iPhone game-level CGI creatures. While a movie filled with motion-captured performances like “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” have astounding visual effects that make you believe those goddamn turtles are real, “Warcraft” is full of shitty beasts that look instead like they belong on your nephew’s iPad screen, pausing every few seconds to swing a giant battle hammer and then ask for his mother’s credit card information – all while blatantly setting up the next adventure to come!
The real tragedy here is that director Duncan Jones, son of the late David Bowie and director of the fabulous low-key sci-fi film “Moon,” finds himself and his characters buried beneath layer upon Adobe After Effects layer of indifferent special effects and plot lines cribbed much better fantasy epics, perhaps driving a battle axe into the skull of his one-mighty potential as a science fiction filmmaker adults could love.