Based on the iconic strategy game, this fantasy battle epic will appeal mainly to either the gamers themselves or audiences that love wildly detailed fantasy worlds. Everyone else will probably feel a bit lost when faced with the stream of confusing names, spells and magical phenomena that fill every scene. It looks terrific, and is directed with plenty of energy and personality. But it feels both overcrowded and superficial.
With their home world Draenor dying, the orcs need to travel through a portal to the human realm Azeroth to find more life force to steal. One orc chieftan, Durotan (Toby Kebbell), is having doubts about this murderous plan, and thinks peace with humans might be a better option. His rival chief Blackhand (Clancy Brown) and the cackling orc shaman Gul-dan (Daniel Wu) disagree, and set a massacre in motion. Preparing for the attack, human King Llane (Dominic Cooper) turns for help to his top knight Lothar (Travis Fimmel), sorcerer Medivh (Ben Foster) and apprentice wizard Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer). Then they meet outcast half-caste Garona (Paula Patton), and she offers another way to take on the invaders.
For the uninitiated, the elaborate mythology is so detailed that it blurs together into something rather incomprehensible. Director Duncan Jones doesn't have time to explain everything, so he charges ahead and just lets the dialogue overflow with references that may or may not be needed to work out what's happening. The film leaps from one strikingly staged battle to another, all cleverly designed to mix digital animation with gothic costumes. It looks pretty amazing in 3D, but the only characters who emerge with any depth are Durotan and Garona, nicely played by Kebbell and Patton under mounds of effects, makeup, fur and teeth.
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