Fantasy/Adventure, 123 Minutes, 2016
Apparently, there’s this game that’s got like, dragons and swords and hobbits and stuff. You play with other people and you, like, kill all the stuff. Mr. T told me all about it. Anyway, this game is pretty old, but, like, people still play it, so they made a movie.
Orcs have turned their entire planet into a shithole and are looking for someplace new to live. Their wizard has opened an enormous portal to a new world for them to invade, but there are two problems: a) live prisoners must be sacrificed to keep the portal opened and b) the current inhabitants of the world kind of like it as it is.
In case you don’t know: Orcs are green, eight-foot tall, tusked mountains of muscle. At least most of them are. In keeping with the stereotype of fantasy as an outlet for 12 year-old boys, the orc we spend most of our time with is, in fact, a half-orc. She’s green, sure, but also hot. Most of the orcs are on board for the whole “genocidal invasion” thing, but a few are less enthusiastic and willing to work with the puny humans that infest their new digs.
The story stems from a great, rich vein of jargon. Fans of the game will feel positively giddy at seeing the world they love so lovingly rendered. It’s refreshing not to have a story spoon fed, as so much modern fantasy does, but this pushes the limits. It’s sink-or-swim for newcomers and they’ll spend much of their time playing the W’s: asking, “who?”, wondering, “where?” and begging, “what?”
Of course the story, for all this, isn’t all that complicated in the broad strokes. Bad guys are green; good guys are, as always, white dudes. Bad magic is green; good magic is blue. The clichés are plentiful and easy to follow. The effects are rather nice, in a filtered, cartoonish kind of way. The performances are also kind of nice… in a filtered, cartoonish kind of way. It’s easy enough to enjoy the ride even if you spend much of it confused.
With the modern dearth of classic fantasy it’s difficult to fault this too stridently. Beggars, after all, can’t be choosers. Inscrutable as it can be, it hits the sword and sorcery sweet spot well. Fans will clearly get much more out of the experience, but that’s only to be expected.