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

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

PLOT Driven by a potent form of black magic, humans and orcs wage a deadly war.

CAST Toby Kebbell, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper

RATED PG-13 (strong violence, some gore)


BOTTOM LINE Grunting, gurgling, blood-gushing nonsense. Not bad if you like that sort of thing. In IMAX and 3-D.

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.

4 other ‘video’ films

The playing field seems wide open as producers lean toward adapting video games such as Warcraft into movies. Here are four other video-game-inspired movies, not all of which were winners.

SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993) — Plumber siblings Luigi and Mario (John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins) have to rescue a princess from the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Any plans for a sequel went down the drain after the film was dismissed by critics and audiences.

LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER (2001) — The most financially successful video-game-to-big-screen adaptation benefitted from a butt-kicking performance by Angelina Jolie as a thrill-seeking adventuress on a mission to recover an object called the Triangle of Light.

RESIDENT EVIL (2002) — This movie about a virus that turns scientists into zombies grossed a healthy $40.1 million. The walking dead have since come back to life in a string of moneymaking sequels.

DOOM (2005) — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson put on his best game face in this futuristic action flick that pit Marines against monsters on Mars. With reviews like Roger Ebert’s (“ ‘Doom’ is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won’t let you play”), the movie was doomed to fail.


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