Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: ‘Warcraft’ continues summer trend of ugly

Orc chieftain Durotan, voiced by Toby Kebbell, left, and Orgrim, voiced by Rob Kazinsky, in a scene “Warcraft,” based on the Blizzard Entertainment video game.
Orc chieftain Durotan, voiced by Toby Kebbell, left, and Orgrim, voiced by Rob Kazinsky, in a scene “Warcraft,” based on the Blizzard Entertainment video game. Universal Pictures

It’s the summer of ugly at the movies.

Last week: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.” Ugly on the half shell, all lumpy and bumpy.

Over the horizon in August: “Suicide Squad.” That one has a metal-mouthed Joker that will give you nightmares, guaranteed.

And in the nearer term there’s “The BFG,” aka Big Friendly Giant. Kind of ugly, but kindly, nonetheless.

This week: “Warcraft.” Can you say, “Uh”? Can you say “Glee”? Let me hear you say it: “Uhhgleee!”

Ugly, with a mouthful of tusks, jutting protuberantly. Ugly, with massive muscles, flexing impressively. And glowering eyes, staring angrily forth from a very large head.

Orcs, the vile monsters of the “Lord of the Rings” world, are appropriated and repurposed by the makers of the vastly popular “Warcraft” fantasy video game. They’re central characters in the game, now the source material of a major motion picture. Which is an incoherent mess, a riot of cheesy-looking CG and a desert in terms of character development.

In it, the inhabitants of orc world, a place of dust and brutishness, pour through a glowing green portal into the world of humankind, a place of walled cities and castles and knights in shining armor. The monsters’ goal: domination and decimation of the easily squishable humans. Let the CG battles, courtesy of director Duncan Jones and an army of keyboard warriors, begin.

Prominently in play are what I’ll call Dueling Force Fields: light-show creations of blue and green zaps zapping from characters’ hands and eyes, hurling various characters hither and yon like rag dolls as they bounce off the electricity.

The prime zappers are a couple of hooded wizardlike villains, parallel paragons of treachery, one an orc played by Daniel Wu, one a human played by Ben Foster, whose eyes literally glow with malevolence.

A knight played by Travis Fimmel with a weird little smirk is the chief human hero.

There’s a good guy orc, played by Toby Kebbell, who wants to form an alliance with humans and suffers badly for his apostasy.

Paula Patton, playing a half-orc, half-human female warrior, is the most sympathetic character and actually gives something approaching a fully fledged performance, but for the rest of it … ugliness as far as the eye can see.

Warcraft

 1/2 out of 5

Cast: Dominic Cooper, Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbel.

Director: Duncan Jones.

Running time: 2:03.

Rated: PG-13, for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence.

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