A SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT OVER MOST VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS, BUT A HUGE STEP BACKWARDS FOR TALENTED DIRECTOR, DUNCAN JONES!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: D+ (2 stars)
It’s Man VS Orc in Warcraft
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I have very little knowledge of the Warcraft video game series. I know of the popular game series created by Blizzard Entertainment and I’ve watched friends of mine play it, but I just never really got into the idea of “Pay to Play” MMORPG games.
That doesn’t mean it’s bad or anything like that, but Warcraft didn’t quite interest me on the same level of games like Mario, Sonic, Halo, or Final Fantasy. I do however know of the impact that game had, specifically from watching the South Park episode, Make Love Not Warcraft, which is a very funny episode that satirizes but also embraces the Warcraft game series, not to mention they got animators and designers from Blizzard Entertainment onboard to work on the episode.
When I first saw the trailer for the Warcraft movie directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) before a showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was curious to see it and from what I could gather judging by the trailer, it did capture the style of what a Warcraft movie should look like. Plus, I loved Duncan Jones’ work on films like Moon and Source Code, two very clever and thought-provoking sci-fi movies.
But seeing how it’s a video game adaptation, anything could happen, it could have been a great movie like Wreck-It Ralph or a trainwreck like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, or a personal guilty pleasure like Mortal Kombat and Ratchet & Clank, it certainly would have been a disaster like an Uwe Boll production that’s for sure. So after sitting through Ratchet & Clank and The Angry Birds Movie this year, both of which were based on popular games, I sat down in an IMAX 3D theater and gave Warcraft a viewing…Mediocre.
Yeah, mediocre, it’s nowhere near as bad as the video game movie adaptations we had in the past, it captured the style of the Warcraft games well, and I could recognize most of the characters from the game. But the movie’s plot is lackluster and the character development is rather poor.
The orcs and most of the main characters are developed okay, but the villain is forgettable and there’s no Warhammer wielding dwarves fighting in the climax or accompanying the main characters on their quest. Basically it’s an overly CG’d Lord of the Rings movie minus the memorable characters and strong storytelling.
Set in the world of Azeroth, the film follows a long battle between humans and orcs after the orc world, Draenor is destroyed and all the orcs fled into a portal that led them to the Azeroth realm. After countless bodies hit the floor, kingdom of Stormwind military commander, Sir Anduim Lothar (Travis Fimmel-Vikings, Maggie’s Plan) catches a trespassing mage named Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer-Law & Order, Happy Town, The Book Thief) who explains to Anduim that the dead bodies contain a magical force called fel, which can open portals to other realms.
In hopes to save the orc race and his wife and newborn, noble orc chieftain, Durotan (voiced by Toby Kebbell-RocknRolla, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) rebels against the sinister orc leader, Gul’dan (voiced by Daniel Wu) and joins forces with the humans to defeat Gul’dan’s orc army and bring his race of orcs back home.
The film also stars Paula Patton (Precious, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, 2 Guns) as strong-willed orc survivor, Garona, Ben Foster (X-Men 3: The Last Stand, 3:10 to Yuma, The Messenger) as Medivh, the Guardian of Tirisfal, Dominic Cooper (The History Boys, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s Agent Carter) as King Llane Wrynn, and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, DC Universe, SpongeBob Squarepants) as fearsome orc chieftain, Blackhand to name a few.
Overall, Warcraft is a little better and a little worse than what I thought I was going to get, the cinematography and character designs are impressive and represent the game well. But the plot and character development are very lackluster and just not very interesting.
It’s a shame because Duncan Jones is a very good director and already won me over with Moon and Source Code, I’m not sure if it’s him or the studio that made the film mediocre, my guess is too much studio interferences, studio-driven or not, Duncan Jones thankfully is more capable of directing video game movies than Uwe Boll.
Perhaps if I played the games more, I might be humming a different tune, but as is, it’s supposed to be a movie based on a video game. Fans of the games would probably enjoy or at the very least tolerate it, but it’ll most likely confuse people who aren’t familiar with the games.
I’m open to see if sequels can improve on what didn’t work in this film and make it more entertaining. It’s not even close to being one of the worst video game movies of all time, and the film didn’t crash and burn for me to not consider watching a sequel or two.
Sorry Duncan Jones, close but no Warhammer.