Full disclosure: I’ve never played Warcraft. I was going to read the Wikipedia page so I’d have an idea of the characters and gameplay, but eh, life is short. Everyone knows video games peaked with Frogger anyway.
As a movie, “Warcraft” is an incomprehensible special-effects sizzle reel — as Shakespeare said, full of sound and fury and stunningly realized orcs, and signifying nothing. It’s about a race of giant-fisted monsters who open a portal to the human realm for purposes of destroying all humans, and the humans who fight back against this proposal. Besides the main conflict between orcs and humans, there are also internecine squabbles on both sides. Not since the cursed “Hobbit” trilogy have I experienced such a bad case of Who are these people and why are they fighting?
Loosely, there’s a pretty decent orc chieftain named Durotan (voiced and motion-captured by Toby Kebbell) who needs to move his clan to a new home, and a fairly noble human named Lothar (Travis Fimmel) whose brother-in-law, Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper), is the king in the human realm of Azeroth. There’s also a “half-breed” slave, Garona (Paula Patton), who’s part orc and, I thought, part human, except the movie tells us orcs and humans haven’t had contact before now, so I don’t know what the other half of her is. She’s green, though.
There is also a doughy-faced magician boy, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) — and magicians are not welcome in Azeroth, for reasons not explained, but Khadgar swears he’s cool — who discovers that a misty green evil magic called the Fell (?) has been introduced into the land. This makes everyone nervous, so they call for a Guardian (it’s a job title) named Medivh (Ben Foster). Well, Khadgar suggests it, but someone says, “Only a king summons a Guardian!” So the king has to do it. I picture dice being rolled at this point, though I know Warcraft does not involve dice.
Glenn Close shows up for a minute. Literally, a minute.
Also: somebody throws a horse.
This chaotic, thundering, dull fantasy mess was directed by Duncan Jones, a talented sci-fi filmmaker (“Moon,” “Source Code”) whose father was David Bowie, so let’s be nice to him. He wrote the screenplay with Charles Leavitt (“Seventh Son”), evidently unconcerned whether it made sense or had characters we could follow and sympathize with. The film is neither campy nor interesting — but to its credit, it doesn’t seem like it’s based on a video game, either. It seems like it’s based on second-hand descriptions of poorly remembered scenes from “Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones.”
D (2 hrs., 3 min.; )