RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 123 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION DUNCAN JONES SCREENPLAY CHARLES LEAVITT, DUNCAN JONES STARRING TRAVIS FIMMEL, PAULA PATTON, BEN FOSTER, DOMINIC COOPER, TOBY KEBBELL, BEN SCHNETZER, ROBERT KAZINSKY, DANIEL WU MUSIC RAMIN DJAWADI
Warcraft is set in a fictional fantasy world somewhere around the dark ages of human evolution.
When Orcs, a mysterious species from a different world, come through a portal to colonize earth and wipe out the human civilization, Azeroth, the human capital prepares for war against the horde.
I will start this review by saying, wow! It’s not a “wow” describing how amazing this movie is, but a “wow” towards what I have discovered on Rotten Tomatoes after coming out of the movie. A 22% Rotten Tomatoes score had me totally flabbergasted.
When the movie finished I felt like “man, this could be it.” This could announce the era of videogame movies to take over from all the superhero stuff. I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, and there are some problems to address, but never would I have thought that critics basically hate this film so much. With such a word of mouth videogame properties will certainly not fix their image when it comes to adaptions for the big screen. Come on! Even Mortal Kombat and Tomb Raider – The Cradle Of Life have a higher score and while I think Mortal Kombat is a nice guilty movie pleasure, there is no way you can tell me that The Cradle Of Life is a better movie than Warcraft!
For the first time I actually feel that the movie makers have understood the videogame franchise prior to filming. Duncan Jones has officially admitted his love for the property and you can feel it in every frame. There is so much care taken with the design of the world, you really feel like you are actually inside the videogame.
Now, that is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Why? Because while bringing the world and creature design to the big screen is definitely what fans have been hoping for, making it all CG can easily backfire at you because it looks like a videogame. Why do we need a movie version when all the creatures in the movie look like a World Of Warcraft cut scene? Maybe fans were looking for just that, but I can easily see how that throws off the common moviegoer looking for a real-life fantasy film, especially when knowing what a well made fantasy film in a similar setting can look like (Lord Of The Rings anyone?).
I have wished that at least when it comes to the backgrounds, the filmmakers would have stuck with real locations. When it comes to the Orcs, sure, make the CGi motion capture because they actually end up looking amazing. But in the end everything is CG and that’s where they may have gone too far for their own good.
One more thing regarding the critics consensus. How The Jungle Book is getting slack for being all CG and Warcraft does not, is also something I don’t quite understand. I think they both look equally as good technically.
When it comes to the characters and performances the movie is a two sided sword. On the one hand there are great characters such as Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and Durotan (Toby Kebbel) who are the two main characters representing the human and orc-side respectively. Especially Durotan is a stand out character, as he gets a strong story arc and is developed the most. He humanizes the Orcs and is animated magnificently. Toby Kabbell, who also did great work with motion and performance capture on the Planet Of The Apes movies, does an equally great job here.
Paula Patton as the half-blood Orc Garona also does a fairly good job and her character is quite interesting. She is also heavily being set up for a possible sequel, so there is more to come from her (assuming the movie does well at the box office)
Then we have characters who are interesting, but oddly miscast. The prime examples are the two mages Medivh (Ben Foster) and Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer). They both seem too young. While Ben Foster does a stellar performance, he doesn’t seem to fit the role of an old powerful mage. Ben Schnetzer on the other hand is young enough for a mage apprentice, but has a performance that doesn’t reflect that at all. He doesn’t seem like he should be an apprentice, since he doesn’t really wants to be one.
It looks like for every good thing in this movie we get something equally bad. The themes and overall plot are pretty interesting I thought, with an equal focus on each side, the humans and the orcs. Especially the orc’s benefit from it because, since one of the protagonists in the movie is of their side, their civilization ends up being humanized. I love that. You can see that they go through the same struggles as any other folk. I would even go that far to say that their storyline is the most interesting because it has the most depth.
Also the direction the movie took towards the end really surprised the hell out of me. The faith of some of the characters, as well as the outcome of the story are very unpredictable. I did not see that coming.
What I really didn’t like is the portrayal of the mages. I don’t know what it is, but there are some incredibly convenient plot choices. Things happen where you gonna ask yourself, how the hell did we get here?! Oh really, you can do that? Eh, ok, I guess. Maybe I am not as familiar to the source material as some fans, but if you are not able to explain the common viewer what’s going on, then don’t wonder when people feel alienated by the world.
Also, there is a love story that comes out of nowhere. It’s nor developed at all and just feels forced and unnecessary. It made me roll my eyes big time.
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
One of the most frustrating things to most people may be the realism and the rules the world sets up. Because the orcs are so much bigger than the humans (which is very faithful to the source material) there is some unfortunate instances where physics don’t seem to line up.
First, humans going one on one with these orcs is already a stretch. The orcs have biceps the size of a human body. But then there is a scene where an Orc rides a horse. It looks terribly ridiculous. Imagine a 250 pound dude riding a pony. Yup, that’s exactly how it looks.
You really have to be a fan of the property in order to be able to believe in the world in front of you. I am a fan of Warcraft II and III, and I know that it is very stylized. But I also know that it may cause problems in a life action adaptation because not everyone will be able to suspend his disbelief for it all to make sense. And maybe it’s this realization that makes the difference for future videogame adaptions to be a success or failure. You have to take the things that are grounded in reality and leave the ones out that are not, or adjust it accordingly. Some things only work in a game after all. Maybe that’s the secret studio have to figure out in order to make videogame films a mass wide success. Otherwise they will just play to the hardcore fans. But I know studios want to make huge bucks off of these movies. In order to do so, they need to reach the common audience after all.
While I had tons of fun with Warcraft, I can easily see why other people won’t. However, I think the Rotten Tomatoes score is undeservingly low because there is too much good to find in this movie to really make it terrible. If you like fantasy movies I can very much recommend it to you. If you are unsure if you gonna like it, watch the trailer. If you like the trailer you most likely end up enjoying the movie. Otherwise stay away.
I still hope the movie makes good box office because I want to see a sequel and I want videogame movies to take off finally. Let’s hope for the best!