So the Warcraft: The Beginning reviews are in. The Duncan Jones directed fantasy flick, based on the Blizzard video game, may be hoping for a number of sequels down the line (they may have jinxed it by subtitling the film The Beginning), bit it has come under scrutiny at the box office. Let’s take a look and see what the critics are saying so far.

Warcraft: The Beginning reviews

Warcraft: The Beginning reviews

Warcraft gives the concept of ‘hybrid’ new punch.”
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

Perhaps the most forgiving of the reviews that we’ve clapped eyes on all day comes from The Hollywood Reporter. They praise Duncan Jones for his attempt to keep the film moving as well as remarking that his characters are memorable because “they have heart.”

Although, they did go on to mention that if you’re not totally invested in the idea of the film then it could be easy to become lost in the plot itself: “If you haven’t already invested in the self-serious mythology, it can feel borderline camp, if not downright dull — or both, as when an uncredited Glenn Close intones platitudes from on high about darkness and light.”

In the end, they seem to appreciate what the film itself does in order to bring the fantasy gaming world to the big screen: “Yet there’s no question that it’s a breakthrough in both storytelling and artistry for features based on video games. And compared with another medieval-ish tale, the soporific Hobbit trilogy, this international production is a fleet and nimble ride, likely to conquer overseas box offices and make a solid stand stateside.”

All in all, a pretty positive review.

Warcraft: The Beginning reviews

Pricey and preposterous adaptation of an online gaming phenomenon was preordained for artistic mediocrity.”
Geoff Berkshire, Variety

Variety aren’t holding anything back with their scathing review of Warcraft, labelling it as “pricey and proposterous.” Ouch!

They also add that the heavy use of visual effects, more than 2000 shots to be precise, is “disspiriting” especially in terms of the time and energy that would have been required.

Ultimately, they aren’t impressed and by the sounds of it they’ll be adding Warcraft to “Hollywood’s habit of turning videogames into unwatchable movies…”

Naff fantasy in shiny, technicolour armour.
Helen O’Hara, The Telegraph

The Telegraph gave it a low 2 star rating on their website, stating that they can’t help but make the comparison between Warcraft and Lord Of The Rings in terms of the focus on mythology.

“This is all ancient history in the game, brought to life almost too vividly. If The Lord Of The Rings aesthetic was a restrained, almost elegiac depiction of a decaying world, this is a civilisation in full flower, bathed in sunshine broken only by the shadow of the odd passing griffin.”

With respect to Warcraft’s CGI heavy visuals, they comment on the clear conflict between the setting and the characters: “But the pristine setting never meshes with Jones’s efforts to give emotional reality to his army of characters, who cannot escape their tropes: leader, hero, warrior woman, mystic.”

Whilst they aren’t exactly sold on the characterisation itself they do recognise that Jones should take a lot of credit for his skill as a director in the film.  However, it’s not as impressive as Moon or Source Code but this doesn’t make the film all bad. They do add that fantasy fans and game players will be able to find joy in the film but for the rest of us, well, it could well go straight over our head.

Warcraft: The Beginning reviews

Lightweight yet disarmingly entertaining.”
Ryan Lambie, Den of Geek

Like The Telegraph, Den of Geek also focus on the conflict between the heroes and villains on both sides – the humans and the mythical creatures.

The opening scenes of the film seem to be the least convincing. Den of Geek explains that this is the by-product of Jones’s difficult task of co-writing with Charles Leavitt, which “gave himself an awful lot of introductions to make… but once the great chunks of back story and world-building are in place, Warcraft begins to find its stride.”

The common factor in each of these reviews so far is of course the CGI effects. Den of Geek are more forgiving than others and whilst the battle scenes are undeniably “effects-heavy” they argue that “the set-pieces improve as the film goes on.”

Overall, they label Warcraft as “lightweight yet disarmingly entertaining,” as it achieves its goal of entertaining the audience as Jones plays around with his characters. Perhaps it’s not a write-off after all.

So Warcraft: The Beginning is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the reviews. Critics had hoped that it would be the first of many great video game movies to ascend to new heights, but by the sounds of things, we may have to wait for the release of Assassin’s Creed in December to see if they can do a better job of bringing the video game world to life on the big screen.