Stand For or Against the Horde in Our Warcraft Movie Review

By Jeff Francis
Warcraft movie review

After years of waiting and development, the Warcraft movie is finally here. The film has had a long and torturous journey to finally reach the silver screen. At one point, the notorious Ulwe Boll made an effort to direct the film, but Blizzard flat out told him no and that they would never sell the film rights to him under any circumstances. This was a wise move as Ulwe Boll is a destroyer of good movies and games. Like many gamers, I had hoped to see a film based upon the World of Warcraft mmorpg, but the film was eventually based upon the Warcraft series of rts games that preceded WoW. So far, the typical Warcraft movie review has been negative, but such reviews come from film critics, a group who are not known for their love of fantasy or gaming. Is the Warcraft movie a flaming dumpster fire of epic failure or is it something else? Read on to get an answer in our Warcraft movie review.

As mentioned above, the typical Warcraft review is pretty harsh on the film. One of the most snarky (and telling) is this literary gem, "Like all Frazetta fantasy posters came to life all at once. A masterpiece of cinema that truly speaks to the interests of white male teenage nerds from 1987." Overall, the movie has a pretty bad rating on Rotten Tomatoes and other film sites, but this did not deter me from seeing the film. I've been a lifelong gamer and fantasy fan, so I'm quite used to seeing negative reviews. The average movie critic absolutely despises fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, which are genres that gamers usually love. Most genre films that I've enjoyed have had lousy reviews, so the average negative Warcraft movie review didn't dampen my enthusiasm one whit.

Let's begin our Warcraft movie review with a quick synopsis of the plot. Fans of the Warcraft franchise (be it rts or mmo) will quickly pick up that this movie features the beginning of the orc incursion into the world of Azeroth. As such, it serves as a prequel to the events in the World of Warcraft online game. The film begins with the orcs planning on moving from their dying world of Draenor to the world of Azeroth via a portal that is powered by fel magic. The chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, Durotan, is seeking a better home for his people and unborn son while other orcs, especially the shaman Gul'dan, are looking for conquest. A warband makes their way through the portal, but the orcs need captives to reopen the portal and bring the rest of the Horde with them. Fel magic is inherently corruptive and uses the life essence of people as a power source. Accompanying the orcs is a slave to Gul'dan, the half-orc Garona. The orcs begin attacking settlements to gather prisoners in order to open the portal. The king of Stormwind sends his military commander, Lothar, to figure out who is attacking them and why. Lothar is accompanied by a mage, Khadgar, who has renounced his ties to the Kirin Tor. The rest of the film plays out as the humans seek to stop the orc invasion, and Durotan and his tribe begin to realize that being allied with fel magic is wrong and will only lead to destruction for everybody. Needless to say, there's a lot of action.

Warcraft Lothar

Let's cut to the chase with our Warcraft movie review. Is the film good, bad, or somewhere in-between. My honest opinion is that it's actually a good movie. The average Warcraft review has been harping that only fans of the online rpg could follow the plot and not the average movie-goer. This is utter bull as that I'm not steeped in WoW-lore at all. It's been years since I played World of Warcraft, and I've never gotten into the Warcraft games because I'm not a fan of the rts genre. Any person who is a fan of fantasy (be it books, movies, or games) should easily be able to follow along. In fact, I kind of wish the movie was longer to dig deeper into the setting.

Let's go over the reasons for my positive Warcraft movie review. The first reason is that this isn't your standard "humans good, orcs bad" situation. The director, Duncan Jones, wanted people to emphasize with both sides. There are good orcs as well as there are evil orcs. Some of the humans are more understanding than others. The screenplay is pretty nuanced and takes advantage of the deep lore and detailed setting that Blizzard has worked on over the last twenty years. What really got me in the movie was the emotion. I was expecting a lot of action and CGI wizardry, but the Warcraft movie makes a concerted effort to make you care for these characters. This is evident in the very first scene where Durotan talks to his very pregnant wife. It's a very emotionally intimate scene, showing that orcs can be as loving and protective as humans. Another surprise is the amount of sadness that occurs in the film. I won't throw out any spoilers, but the film takes its story and characters serious. This is no film that panders to the masses by being cheesy or silly.

The acting in the Warcraft movie is top-notch. Travis Fimmel is superb as Lothar (he's also tremendous in the Vikings TV show) as is Paula Patton as Garona. Other notables include Dominic Cooper as the king of Stormwind and Ruth Negga as his wife (they're also currently teamed up in the Preacher TV show), as well as Ben Foster as Medivh and Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar. The actors playing the orcs do a tremendous job of conveying their emotions through all the CGI motion capture. Visually, the Warcraft movie is stunning, and I would heartily recommend seeing it on the big screen to get the full effect. The orcs look amazing, and the CGI is pretty flawless. I'm usually not a huge of CGI, usually preferring practical effects, but the work that the production team did in bringing the orcs to life is nothing short of amazing.

Warcraft orc

Now's the part of the Warcraft movie review where I geek out a bit. There's a lot of action in the movie as orcs and humans battle one another, and who doesn't want to see orcs and humans bashing one another? One aspect of the film that I really enjoyed was how well they captured the world of Azeroth. Seeing places where I've adventured in World of Warcraft was pretty cool, such as the famous inn in Goldshire. A smile was put on my face at the very beginning when Lothar is riding to Stormwind. As he crosses a bridge, you can see a murloc standing on the river bank in the foreground. I immediately heard in my mind (not from the film) the unique murloc gurgle. There are also a few scenes where the dwarves and night elves are featured. The distinctive appearance of weapons and armor in World of Warcraft are translated well to the big screen and look natural. Overall, fans of the rts series and mmo will get a kick out of some familiar sights and sounds.

In the end, our Warcraft movie review is a thumbs-up. Ignore the haters and go and see the film. The Warcraft movie tells a strong origin story and doesn't rely upon trying to replicate the gaming experience that other video game film adaptations try. The special effects are awesome, and there's a ton of action. The movie's pace chugs along at a brisk trot, but the main accomplishment of the movie is that it tells a compelling story of two groups of people fighting to protect their own. The Warcraft movie is not just a good adaptation of a video game franchise; it's also a good film in its own right. It tells a compelling story, makes you care about the characters, and is entertaining. What else can I say in our Warcraft movie review? I do hope that the film is a major success so that we can see other Warcraft films produced that continue the story. My advice is if you like fantasy movies at all, then screw the average film critic and their Warcraft movie review and go and see the movie in the theater.

Jun102016

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