Movie Reviews

Published on June 8th, 2016 | by gareth

4

Warcraft

Back in 1994, I fondly remember playing Warcraft on my PC as well as the fun of connecting with a friend over a dial up modem for hours of fun.  Blizzard’s online matchmaking portal also served as a source of countless chatrooms in the pre-internet days and through the two sequels and add on packs that followed as well as the huge success of World of Warcraft, the name Warcraft came to symbolize quality and fun to millions of fans the world over.

The feature film is directed by Duncan Jones who replaced Sam Raimi in pre-production years ago, and follows the arrival or the Orcs into Azeroth and the battle that erupts as the humans try to stop this invading force.   An evil energy source is compelling the actions of a power obsessed Orc and he is obsessed with destroying the humans to find a new home for his people which is no longer inhabitable thanks to said dark magic.

 

There are the usual collection of wizards, warriors, love interest, heroes, and villains that one would expect in a fantasy adventure but there are many elements that simply do not work.  From poor casting choices to a story that is weak even by video game standards the movie just does not live up to what one expects form a summer blockbuster especially one with a name associated with quality. It is shocking to me that the studio thought the casting choices were appropriate for the film as there is no star power at all and no chemistry at all between any of the performers.   It is almost as if some executives figured since their kids play Warcraft and they know people who play Warcraft, then this will be a huge hit as everyone will flock to it. Yes, but the salad days of the franchise are behind it as World of Warcraft does not have the subscriber bases it once had. Three to Five years ago would have been a great time for the film but for now it is too late and far to lacking.  I am sure fans will see it for curiosity sake and it may open well, but I do not see it having much staying power and as what is supposed to be the first film in a planned series, I am not sure that I want to see much more of it which is sad as I am a fan of the games and I liked that the visuals of the film matched much of the quality artwork of the games.

The action scenes for the film are entertaining enough and they do have a good degree of visual appeal but they just do not have any intensity or compulsion to them and with the disjointed plot and sub par acting, it really makes it hard to get caught up in the outcome. One segment was indicating an epic battle was to come and it was resolved in seconds which really invalidated much of the events leading up to it.

 

Sadly the first cinematic offering for the franchise is not going to be the landmark event that the arrival of the previous games have been as it plays out like a big budget fan film with solid special effects but a plodding and stale story, bad acting, and a no-name cast who cannot even decide what accent they are using from scene to scene.  I half expected Crow and Tom Servo to pop up in the corner and add their commentary especially during the ridiculous “Moses Scene” which was so indicative of the slapdash nature of the film.

2.5 stars out of 5

 

 

Second Review by Chris Daniels.

 

Warcraft: a film that breaks the stereotypes about movies based on video games.

Though I am a World of Warcraft gamer and long-time fan of Blizzard’s work,  I never played the three strategy games that preceded it. WoW introduced me to the rich lore and history surrounding Azeroth, as well as its many, diverse denizens.  For this reason, my review will be split between two perspectives: that of a fan, and of a movie critic.

Before the movie started, my companion and I sat nervously in the theater. We had mixed emotions about a live action showcase for this universe. We wanted to believe it was possible to have a great film with humans, orcs, epic battles, and magic. Put simply: Legendary Studios delivers. (Side note: if you haven’t seen the hour-long documentary on Blizzard, I highly recommend it).

The film opens to a ravaged world we know to be Draenor, the original homeworld of the Orcs.  They have turned to a powerful warlock, Gul’dan, to lead them to a new world, rich with life and resources. He constructs a massive gate, drawing on the souls of Draenei slaves to power it and create a portal. Gul’dan sends a warband through this portal to conquer the lands beyond, and to build a gate on the other side capable of transporting the rest of the Orc Horde.

Warchief Durotan (namesake of Durotar, a zone in the game) and his lifelong friend Orgrim Doomhammer (namesake of Orc capital Orgrimmar), realize that while Gul’dan appears to be trying to save their people, his methods will corrupt the mighty and honor-driven orc clans.  Because of this, they stray from the path and make plans to take down Gul’dan.

The Movie Critic Perspective:

The script does not pander, which was a pleasant surprise — a shock, even.  The acting is top notch, despite being from a cast of relative unknowns.  Visuals are truly stunning; an imperative for capturing the favor of the fans. The cinematography and storytelling don’t get the highest marks, but they were more than acceptable, and quite entertaining.

My only (minor) gripe is that the character introductions were undersold.  Not being comprehensively educated on the history of all the major characters, I would have liked to hear a quick history of their relevance to the plot. I would have appreciated clearer pronunciation of their names, as well. Oddly enough, I didn’t know who many of the characters were in the first half of the movie because I couldn’t hear their names spoken clearly or frequently enough. This is a small thing, but when you are trying to bring your viewer into the world, distinct names help tie them to a character. Establishing who the characters are and why a viewer should care is an element critical to storytelling.

The Fan Perspective:

As a fan of this property for more than a decade, I was pleased to see the bright colors, the larger-than-life orcs, the elaborate armor and weapons, and some good, old-fashioned spell flinging!  The spell animations were on point, and the beautiful settings provoked a true sense of wonder in me. That’s exactly what I wanted this film to do.

The producers didn’t pander to the audience as if we are all children, or dopey adults.  They made a serious movie. It wasn’t campy, and felt like it portrayed a real universe with real problems.

The Easter eggs in Warcraft are subtle — and because of their subtlety, they are wonderful.  Warcraft is based on a video game, but the vast majority of video game elements just don’t make sense as a focal point for the movie. However, as minor, in-the-background elements, they are truly laugh-out-loud funny.  I won’t spoil anything for you. Be sure to pay close attention.

I enjoyed that they paid equal attention and respect to both the Alliance and Horde factions in the movie.  Given that their viewer base was likely split down the middle, a movie that was heavily weighted toward the Alliance (humans), would have alienated a strong percentage of the fans.  Smartly, they brought honor and humanity to the Orcs, allowing us to sympathize with their plight and their ways.

Magic!  This movie prominently showcases magic — everything from teleportation to destructive fireballs. I’m thankful for that. Most high-fantasy movies downplay magical elements because they diverge too much from reality. I wanted conspicuous, spell-flinging fun, and I got it.

In short, if you love (or once loved) Warcraft, you will like this movie.

Fair warning: parts of the story drift away from the established lore. Hollywood clearly wanted to tell a story you hadn’t seen yet, something with an element of the unknown. But they do it in acceptable ways. If you are a lore purist, set that aside and enjoy this film.

It is worth noting that, there is excessive brutality in the fight scenes, and while the content stems from a video game, the gore might be a bit much for younger viewers.

Lastly, I hate 3D, but this movie does it in a great way (like Avatar). It doesn’t throw the 3D aspects at you in distracting ways.

Though I saw this as a free screener, I will be paying money to see it again with friends. I recommend you do the same.  I hope the film does well enough that we can expect to see at least two more films, because there is so much wonderful story yet to tell.

 

4 stars out of 5

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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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