Well now, looky here — a fantasy story, heavy on the CGI and based on an existing (video game) property — that somehow doesn’t feel like brand management, fan service, or even boilerplate hackwork. Instead, you’ve got a complicated, unexpected hero in the orc chieftan Durotan, who starts having second thoughts about conquering the world of humans after he discovers rot at the top of the orcish chain of command. (Even a marauding barbarian should pause where magic is concerned, even when that magic is employed to revive his stillborn son.) Of course, our natural sympathies are with humanity under siege — the brave king, the dashing knight, the youthful sorcerer — but there are hard choices on both sides, choices that involve real costs. Less real: the strange hyper-crisp, super-saturated depiction of armor, fur, skin, and greenery. But if it feels slightly fake, it’s gorgeously so, like the too-red blood of old horror films. There are plenty of flaws — an overabundance of storylines chief among them, followed by the occasional slip into silly action and/or overdone effects — but what fun to discover some virtues to set against them. Directed by Duncan Jones. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.