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‘Warcraft’ review: It’s gory over glory in Duncan Jones film

Durotan (voiced by Toby Kebbell), left, and Orgrim

Durotan (voiced by Toby Kebbell), left, and Orgrim (voiced by Rob Kazinsky) in "Warcraft." Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

And it came to pass that World of Warcraft, the online role-playing game involving orcs and humans, arrived upon the big screen. “Warcraft” is co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, the only son of David Bowie. Jones begot such fine films as the mood piece “Moon” and the economic thriller “Source Code.” Mark ye, too, this movie’s fine cast, which includes Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Paula Patton.

What does “Warcraft” intend to be? HBO’s “Game of Thrones” meets “Mad Max: Fury Road,” perhaps, with the unavoidable influences of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Thomas Malory’s Arthurian legends and Robert E. Howard’s “Conan the Barbarian.” As a story, “Warcraft” could kindly be described as twaddle. As a mash-up of swords, sorcery and interspecies lust, however, it’ll just about do.

“Warcraft” kicks off with little ceremony, as if assuming all viewers are also longtime gamers. On the human side are the good King Llane Wrynn (Cooper), the brave Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and the neophyte wizard Khadgar (a likable if bland Ben Schnetzer). Their protector is the Guardian Medhiv, played by Foster, who seems slightly young for such a portentous part. On the orc side is Toby Kebbell as Durotan, a noble chieftain who rebels against his ruthless leader, Gul’dan (Daniel Wu). Caught in the middle is the half-breed Garona, played by Patton with a svelte figure and dainty tusks.

You’ll get all the usual motion-capture monsters, gory battle scenes and magical mumbo-jumbo, plus a couple of pleasant surprises. One is Kebbell, an underrated actor (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) who gives Durotan a beating heart under his protruding pecs. The other is Jones, who has an eye for detail (the orcs’ bulky, brutish costumes look great) and injects pathos into unexpected places. Why Jones chose this bloated project remains a bit of a mystery; maybe he just loves the game.

You should, too, if you want to fully enjoy the movie. All others, your quest for entertainment will surely follow a different path.

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