With brutal action and breathtaking visuals, Warcraft is an entertaining thrill ride through Blizzard’s complex and bizarre world. As a long time World of Warcraft player and superfan of both the game and lore, I was impressed with director Duncan Jones’ adaptation and as video game movies go, I think this should be near the top of anyone’s list.
Just to get it out of the way, we need to talk about the problems with the start of the movie. I am often stating how keeping interest throughout the beginning of a story, movie, or a TV show is paramount to the success of the product. While the opening scene was taken directly from a game cinematic, the film bogged down a little under the weight of its multiple characters, locations, and themes. To fit such a large scale of this story into a film is tough to do, and I think Jones did the best he could with the enormous amount of source material, but it left the viewer a little disoriented as the film jumped through multiple points of view to establish this world.
Ok, that’s enough being objective, I am a Warcraft superfan and I must gush. The visuals of this movie were outstanding and there’s no other proof of that than the opening scene. I believe it was risky having the first view in the movie being a close up of a completely digital character but it paid off big time. Half of the cast of the movie is completely digitally rendered yet it never felt like the production team was taking shortcuts. Using motion capture, the performances of each of the actors behind those orcs shined through showing that computer generated graphics in film can be done properly.
There is one staple about the Warcraft universe that doesn’t seem to have a place in any other fantasy setting and that is how huge a role magic plays in the world. In these games you call down pillars of fire, create interdimensional portals, and turn entire armies to ice. There was a fear that this movie would attempt to play down such an over the top visual for a more realistic look but thankfully that was not the case. Seeing Khadgar hurling balls of arcane energy at enemies or Medivh calling down lightning from the sky was big and powerful just as a high fantasy setting should be.
While this film may not sway newcomers to the Warcraft universe, there was plenty for fans of the series to be excited about. The longshot of Ironforge alone was enough to have me drooling but the film used much more from the source material. From the music, to the locations and even the peppering of easter eggs like a murloc or a man fishing with a bobber made of cork and two feathers, this film should have everything a superfan would need. The lore of the movie did deviate from the game slightly in that demons did not play a role in the story but everything that was missing from the film was alluded to and, of course, some things need to be cut to make a coherent film.
This film may not have been perfect nor enough to sway newcomers to the franchise but for the fanbase Warcraft is an incredible adaptation of a dense and fantastic game. I know that other critics have panned the movie for its dull swings and video game feel but I implore you to make up your mind for yourself. If nothing else this movie is wholly entertaining and a definite must see.