MONSTERS, men and magic - there's a lot going on in Warcraft: The Beginning.
And that's not a good thing, at least it wasn't for me.
I left the cinema feeling perplexed by this big budget, big screen adaptation of the popular video game franchise and novels.
Set in the magical world of Azeroth, the film follows the conflict that arises when a group of orc warriors uses a magical gate to travel from their dying homeland to greener pastures.
They begin pillaging the outer village of the kingdom and are brought to the attention of King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his trusty army commander Anduin Lothar (Vikings' Travis Fimmel).
The orcs aren't killing the villagers, but rather taking them hostage as fuel for the magical force of The Fell that fuels the magical gate.
They need more live bodies to keep the gate open long enough for the rest of the orc horde to join them. But one orc warlord, Durotan, has a conscience and reaches out to the humans to try to make a truce.
Enter Azeroth's magical protector Medivh (Ben Foster). As the guardian of the realm, he is called upon figure out how the orcs arrived and how to stop them.
That's where it starts to get a bit convoluted. It's hard to keep up as the various characters jump around to cities and locations across the kingdom, sometimes without much explanation.
Why some people, like Medivh and wizard in training Khadgar, have magical powers and others don't is not explained and there are glimpses of other races like dwarves and elves whose place in the world of Azeroth is not clear.
I know this is the start of a planned movie franchise, but I would have liked more background rather than jumping straight into the action.
This film has a built-in fan base thanks to the millions of Warcraft players worldwide, and it feels like director Duncan Jones (son of late singer David Bowie) had them firmly in his mind.
That's fine, if Warcraft's estimated 5.5 million subscribers (there were more than 12 million at the height of the game's popularity) were the only ones going to see this movie.
As a newcomer to the Warcraft world the film raised more questions for me than it answered, and no matter how dazzling the visual effects might be they can't compensate for that.
If you're not a Warcraft aficionado then to enjoy this film I think you need to just go with it and accept that the story might not always make sense.
Warcraft felt like a B-grade Lord of the Rings to me and the franchise needs a lot of work if it's going to enjoy widespread success.
Warcraft: The Beginning
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Tony Kebbell.
Director: Duncan Jones
Verdict: 2.5/5 stars
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