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Home | Film Review: Orcs! (2011)

Film Review: Orcs! (2011)


Faced with extinction, two park rangers are forced to defend the national park against hordes of rampaging orcs. Ancient and long forgotten, these orcs are unleashed from the depths of the mountains, and they won’t stop until we’re all dead.


It really isn’t uncommon for a film to name drop when releasing promotional materials or on the box art when the film is released. We have seen “From the director of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, which is perfectly acceptable. Lately, the lines have been a bit blurred when we see “From one of the executive producers of”, which to me means absolutely nothing. When watching the trailer for the film “Orcs!” we get a similar ploy. Except this time it is “You’ve seen them in Lord of the Rings!” They don’t stop there, next it goes to “You battled them in World of Warcraft!” That was just like dropping the ball to me. The trailer just turned me off to the film. Thankfully, when I did sit down to watch it, the filmmakers’ waste no time letting you know that they want you to have fun.

In the Black Lake Mountains of Wyoming, in 1909 a miner is digging away when he is interrupted by a Park Ranger who informs him that mining in a national park has been outlawed. The minor disappears and the Ranger is attacked by an unseen creature that tips a lantern, igniting the dynamite, and sealing the mine. Flash forward to present day and Park Ranger Cal (Adam Johnson) is giving another tour of the park, and marching to the beat of his own drummer. When reporting back to base his superior Marge (Barta Heiner) assigns him a trainee, Hobie (Maclain Nelson). Together they must investigate a series of bizarre happenings within the park that leads to the discovery of dead teenagers and that the park is being overrun by……..ORCS!!! Along with Cal’s ex-flame Katie (Renny Grames), they must pool together their resources and save the park from the oncoming horde of ORCS!!!

I’ll admit that I’m not all too familiar with what Orcs are except for the fact I played World of Warcraft for about a year. I have never read Tolkein’s books or seen the “Lord of the Rings” films. I guess that might put me in a minority, I just haven’t got to them yet. That really doesn’t matter though with the film “Orcs!” The concept was never meant to be taken too seriously and for being a micro budgeted independent film, “Orcs!” is an awful lot of fun. Adam Johnson and Maclain Nelson have a terrific rapport with one another, not to mention the fact that they are sporting some killer mustaches. They fumble their way through the ordeal and their delivery of the ridiculous dialogue is believable and hilarious at the same time. Cal feels a bit like an Ash type of character while Hobie felt a bit like Dewey from the “Scream” films. Not copies of the characters, they were just molded in a similar vein.

We really don’t get to see much Orc make-up, but when we do, the design is pretty convincing. There is a moderate amount of blood splashing around and plenty of severed limbs. Director James McPherson does an outstanding job orchestrating the silliness in a manner that is an absolute blast. There is depth to the characters and for the films entire one hour and twenty minute runtime, the pacing is pitch perfect, with barely a wasted moment of screen time. My only real complaint was the repetition of our heroes battling the horde during the final battle. It seemed to go on forever and the CGI gunfire was a bit annoying to me. I’ve seen better films and I have seen films that are worthless. “Orcs!” takes a gray area and just tries to keep you invested in the film. With that, they succeed and the ride is well worth taking. It’ll be interesting to see where this talented group goes from here. They all worked terrific together and if this team just keeps improving with each film, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

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