Video games, a revolutionary medium for telling stories, creating worlds and immersing the player into new realms. Over the years these worlds have grown more and more realistic, graphic evolving to the point that cut scenes look almost as real as the players themselves. You would think these games could stand alone, but nope Hollywood has to contract out in order to fill theaters with another possible masterpiece of its own. But seldom do these games live up to the hype and countless times we get a mere mockery of the very thing we love. So with the poor track record, you can guess I didn’t have a good feeling about today’s review on Warcraft. Hi, Robbie K here ready to share some thoughts on the latest movie to bust in to theaters. Let’s get started.
I may not know the most about Warcraft, and I certainly haven’t invested hours of my life into the popular WoW franchise, but I’ve faced my share of fantasy movies. Warcraft certainly belongs in that genre, utilizing technology and the finest makeup magic to design the world of Azeroth. My friend and I were able to pick out references to the game throughout the movie to have fans wheezing, smiling, and cheering in enthusiasm. Spells erupt in brilliant colors, Orcs muscles bulging and rippling like the Mr. Universe contests, and armor looking like it was crafted from foam or plastic toys.
But the aesthetics are only a superficial gleam the trailers had to offer. The opening ten to fifteen minutes set the premise well, a fine introduction that mirrored a Blizzard opening cinematic. Then like the lightning bolt on Harry Potter’s forehead it took an abrupt turn and traveled down another arc, which then turned into another story until it cascaded into a messy tale. Like a three year old coloring, the story team couldn’t decide what the hell they wanted to do with this movie. Romance? Vengeance? A tale of war? You get it all people and in a very rushed format that left little time for any quality development before many of them were executed in a manner similar to Game Of Thrones. The story felt very compartmentalized, and many plot lines were abruptly started and stopped, often resulting in pointless scenes that served only to increase the run time.
In terms of battles, I can only say they were half spectacular despite the technology they had at hand. Most of this was due to the fact that the directing team thougt it wise to mix live actors with a half CGI cast. We’ve seen this technique before in movies, but that was in the day where they actually practiced, perfected, and coordinated stunts better. This film decided to forgo that process and instead give us semi exciting fights where only a handful of warriors could fight, while others were mere magic fodder. Many of the extras got a cheesy stab or slash in before being pummeled by the hulkish Orcs and much of it evolved into swarm battles reminiscent of the video game. Seeing as Blizzard have made some of the finest video game cinematic moment, you would think they would have taken the initiative to make the entire cast cinematic. Oh well the inevitable sequel might learn that lesson for next time.
In terms of acting, can’t really speak much on this either. Lothar was kind of a mess in terms of a character. Travis Fimmel looked more like a drunk knight than a noble warrior, and his delivery was more comical than honorable. Dominic Cooper did a slightly better job, but his performance was a little stiff and a bit overbearing. Ben Foster as the wizard Medivh, well he was okay, but the direction turned him into more a mage who seemed to have a drinking problem and yes I know the story. Truth be told it was the voice acting and only non digital orc that were the most impressive of the bunch. Toby Kebbell as Durotan the chief orc was a character with multiple layers of complexity and a voice work to match. Paula Patton as Garona was also a welcome addition, though the directors choice to make her have broken English wasn’t necessarily the right direction for me. Overall the cast wasn’t the worst thing in this movie, but it certainly wasn’t the best. Again invest in digital characters.
Warcraft has received a lot of high ratings, but I can’t see why it is getting 8-10 ratings. It certainly makes for beautiful fantasy world and the nostalgic touches in reference to the game I’ll nod my head out. But when you can’t pull a story together and have the well directed action to support that world…well I dock points for that. Fans of the game most likely lead the reviews in this one, and perhaps they feel it sticks to the story more. But the rushed plot and pointless (albeit emotional scenes) were distracting at best. The endings to the battles were also a little corny and dare I say stupid, but if meant for comedic relief it’s there too.
My scores are: Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 7.0
Movie Overall: 6.0