Warcraft Director: Duncan Jones
Screenwriter: Charles Leavitt and Duncan Jones
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, and Daniel Wu
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 123 Minutes
Release Date: June 10th, 2016
Critics have been rather harsh to Warcraft so far, and as the lights dimmed and the movie started, I came into the theater thinking that I was only there to throw a little love on director Duncan Jones. Jones has had a rough year so far, and this whole movie is a big risk for not only him, but also for Blizzard Entertainment, who created the game that the movie draws inspiration from, World of Warcraft.
So how was the movie, when watched by a hardcore WoW geek?
As a long time fan of all things Azeroth, I can honestly say that ultimately, this movie was a totally effing awesome experience for me. I can honestly say that Duncan Jones nailed it, adapting the game into the movie and blew me away. It was epic, and beautiful, and heartbreaking, and so worth the long, LONG wait that fans have been clamoring for. If you know the difference between the high elves and the night elves, or why Dalaran floats, then you NEED to see Warcraft immediately, because this is probably how Tolkien fans felt seeing Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time. Yes, to this fan at least…I just compared this to the precious Lord of the Rings. That being said, I have a very large “but” coming.
The movie is great, BUT only for fans of World of Warcraft…everyone else is probably going to hate it.
Let me explain. Warcraft, for someone with no previous knowledge of the game or more accurately, the game’s extensive lore, the plot is going to be very confusing and hard to follow. With two hours of run time, this film desperately needed more than the 10 seconds of setup. It’s gonna be easy for critics to say that this is simply another Super Mario Bros. video game adaptation, but in reality, Blizzard in Warcraft has created a high fantasy world beyond just one video game. In reality, there are books (I’m a HUGE fan of “The War of the Ancients” trilogy by Richard Knaak) and comics, and this isn’t just one game but a 20-year run of games, including the massively successful MMORPG World of Warcraft. Let’s just say that fitting something this epic in scope is why Game of Thrones is a multi-episode show on HBO and not a movie. Like in Dune, it needed that Princess Irulan intro to give a little depth to who the story was about.
There is still plenty to love about Warcraft actually, even for someone new. First, if nothing else, the visual effects were amazing. Jackson had to switch to CG orcs for The Hobbit trilogy, and I bet he would have loved to have had these orcs. Toby Kebbell as Durotan and his fellow orcs really steal the screen when they are on. It is absolutely breathtaking, visually. I’d suggest seeing it for that reason alone. After all, we all know we saw Avatar twice for the 3D, and not the plot that was pretty much “Space Dances With Wolves.”
Secondly, while some might see Travis Fimmel‘s Lothar as rather “phoned in,” his performance was a highlight for the human side of the movie, as most of the other humans seemed kinda cookie cutter. Furthermore, Paula Patton deserves a little recognition for her Garona. She gives a brilliant performance that even for a fan like me, was really surprising. I have to be honest though, Patton deserved better practical effects with her teeth and such. For all the amazing that the orcs were with their visuals, Patton’s visuals seemed like an afterthought. Still, Patton almost had me crying at the end of the movie. Finally, even if you don’t know what the difference between Stormwind or Ironforge is, the beauty of Azeroth in the big landscape shots is breathtaking in 3D and not as fantastical as you would think. Fans of course will get starry-eyed at it, but even non-fans can appreciate the amazing art on the big screen.
So what if Warcraft is more of a fan film than a major accomplishment in the art form. Who said that summer films had to be anything other than an excuse to enjoy the experience of the theater? Warcraft is just the kind of movie one expects in the summer – it’s epic, visually spectacular, and has a baby Thrall.
No no, you don’t understand…baby Thrall steals the whole damn movie.