The Warcraft movie, although visually stunning, was lackluster and fell flat. The Orc's story line and characters were very well developed. Kudos to that. The human characters, on the other hand, were all underdeveloped and all had the exact same boring motivation (that's right -- singular, not plural).
"Protect the King!"
Warrior guy. "Protect the king!"
Guardian. "Protect the king!"
Mage kid. "Protect the realm and thereby protect the king!"
Orc halfbreed. "Protect the king who isn't even my king."
It's astonishing how many times they actually say those lines, or a variation of them.
And that's the whole of it. All the human character motivations are indistinguishable and makes the characters bland. You could fold all the human characters into one and it wouldn't change the story any, and that's just poor story telling.
As for the rest of the film.
WARNING: the following contains ***SPOILERS*** *
In the end...
They all fail to protect the king.
Which was predictable. Which made it sad that none of the characters had any real motivations beyond protecting the king.
All of them except for our warrior hero who also wants to protect his son. Who is busy protecting the king. But then fails to do so, and dies. And our warrior hero ends up failing to protect anyone at all.
And then, once everyone they're trying to protect is killed, their motivations suddenly change to... fight for peace! All at the last minute.
Really cheesy, really bad writing. I half expected William Wallace to walk out onto the battlefield and cry out "FREEEEDOMMM!"
All the side-stories were underdeveloped as well. Only the father & son story had any weight to it but it was cut short because, as stated, our warrior hero fails to protect his son too.
Very sad. Right? But not really because you never felt that there was any relationship there.
It seemed like a needless bit of melodrama packed into the drama. Very cliche. It's the same old, same old. The son gets murdered so the hero then wants revenge trope. It wasn't necessary to throw this into the film, and because their relationship was so underdeveloped anyway, and the acting wasn't so great (aren't the two actors who play father and son virtually the same age?), it comes off feeling, you guessed it, flat.
Maybe the actors could have pulled it off if they were more commanding actors. Or if they were given more to work with in terms of the development of their relationship. But as it is, it's just poorly executed and unnecessary since it doesn't drive the plot forward as it comes rather late and the confrontation of our warrior hero and the evil Orc was coming regardless of whether or not the evil Orc killed his son or not. Because, remember, the hero's motivation is "Protect the king!" So the son's death is superfluous here.
The only interesting scene to come out of it is when the hero is in the bar getting drunk and the Orc halfbreed girl comes up to him and they share a moment because they are both wounded souls. But then the story cuts away, and instead of showing them fall in love, it hints at a relationship but doesn't make it into anything.
I mean, given what happens at the end, maybe fleshing out their relationship more at this point, even throwing in a mild love scene, would have made her seeming betrayal at the end seem all the more unforgivable to our hero. That would have been interesting to see. But really, all I felt was, he loves her, he loves her not and, ah-ha, we're onto something else. Never mind. It never really mattered. Oh, well.
Even the young Mage, the so-called "chosen one" just sort of floats along with only a minor motivation to figuring out what's behind the mysterious portal compelling him, all the while saying his lines (badly and feeling really out of place in the cast), and is the key to solving the who let the Orcs in mystery. But, in the end, it doesn't really matter who let the Orcs in because they don't go back.
So, yeah, the one character they had the chance to do anything with they sort of push into the background of the B-story line. Too bad.
As for the King, he wanted to protect his people and his shining kingdom (well, duh). This is another very boring character motivation. And the king is played rather straight. The actor's lines are delivered straight. There's nothing particularly commanding or interesting about the king. He's just sort of there. It would have been more interesting to see the king being the one who let the Orcs in through the portal, not the guardian. Although still cliche, it would have at least been an interesting character dynamic amid otherwise bland and predictable characters with bland and predictable performances.
But, as it turns out, that didn't happen. And all we are given instead are these very basic, unoriginal, predictable, uninteresting characters with no real motivations to speak of beyond protect the king and fight the bad guy.
And that was the entire depth of the human-based story lines.
Even though the human story lines were very bland, I felt that the Orc story line was really, very well done. That's the redeeming aspect to this film. They had family story, politics, ritual, conflict all within their own side of the story. And the Orc characters were genuinely interesting and their CGI performances were -- dare I say it -- better than the live actors. Although this may have had something to do with the fact that the live actors were acting with CGI actors, which is much harder to pull off convincingly. Especially when your cast is a mixed bag of talent.
Sadly, in the end, the excellent Orc story line just was not good enough to save the film from being flattened into a terrible two-dimensional cliche. A pity too, considering the source mythology of Warcraft is so rich.
Overall, I'd give the film three stars.
It wasn't terrible. It had good moments. But it seems almost as if it was two films mashed together seamlessly by having a great editor and excellent CGI transitions. But the story felt disjointed, as if he lead director handled all the Orc stuff and gave an unskilled second unit director all the human stuff and ended up with a really skewed film.