You know how sometimes you are so tired that it doesn’t matter what the movie is because you are just NOT having it? Well, I will preface this review by saying that I almost didn’t write it because I thought that my exhaustive state was tainting my opinion of this film. However, I watched another film right after and quickly learned that it was NOT the case. This is also a film based on a very popular online game that I have absolutely no knowledge of but before you go trashing my opinion because of that, I would like to say that I am a firm believer in a film acting on its own merits. A good film will not require you to read the source material or even the previous film in a franchise. Well, to put it quite bluntly, this is not a good film.
The story basically comes down to this: it is a world in which humans and orcs are constantly at each other’s throats. Is there any time spent on explaining how this even started? Not really. Is there all that much character development beyond ‘most humans are good, most orcs are bad?’ Nope. Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to describe this convoluted plot without either confusing myself or boring people to tears. I’m also really tired and this film doesn’t deserve a full in-depth review but I’ll do my best. Basically, humans and orcs fight each other a lot, there are some dissidents on either side and stuff gets broken and blows up real good.
The first thing I will do is list the positives: the special effects were quite good.
Okay, back to the review. We come to the acting portion of the film and… man, those actors could not have looked less interested and just miserable to be there while supposedly portraying these passionate characters in a war. Ben Foster is at least somewhat charismatic but otherwise doesn’t really do much as the mysterios Medivh and then people like Dominic Cooper and Paula Patton show up to play important roles that have no characterization or anything in order for the viewer to care about them at all. I couldn’t even match up the actors to most of the characters because either I didn’t care or they just weren’t memorable.
The film’s biggest flaw is that they assume that their viewers have a pretty decent knowledge of this world before you even watch the film. They assume that all of the people watching the movie are people who have played the game and thus they don’t take the time to really explain much for the viewers. For instance, the first 30 minutes are torturous. They just go from scene to scene without so much as a reason and you are expected to understand everything that is occurring right from the get-go. The characters are all flat so they can’t even at least get you to care about what happens to them. There are several emotional moments in the film that they attempt in regards to some character deaths but it just doesn’t work. I liken it to a Friday the 13th film that would try to get you to care about the victims murdered by Jason. They’re paper-thin so they never attempt to garner a lot of emotion for them for the most part.
It’s unfortunate that Duncan Jones chose this project. He also directed the fabulous Moon starring Sam Rockwell back in 2009 and the well-received Jake Gyllenhaal flick, Source Code. His direction in those movies was quite good; in this one, it just feels lazy almost like he didn’t want to do it. We literally get the same shots over and over again and it only adds to the stale nature of everything.
I am done. This was horrible… and it is a horrible review. But I’m sure my opinion doesn’t matter because I don’t play the game or whatever. Peace!
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)