Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), is a film that looks to kick start a video-game-to-movie Hollywood franchise. The film stars notable actors such as Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Toby Kebbell, Dominic Cooper and Daniel Wu. Warcraft has taken many years to develop with its massive $160 million budget. While it may not be the film that will start a video game movie trend, it does however prove that it can be done.
The film focuses on the war between the humans and the orcs. The orcs homeworld of Draenor is dying, and they must try to find another place to live. Gul’dan, the leader of the Horde, has obtained some dark magic called the Fel and attempts to use this as a source of power against the other races. Gul’dan knows of a portal that could get them to the land of Azeroth; however the Fel’s ultimate source comes from draining life. The portal will only remain open if many lives are sacrificed.
Durotan, the chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, learns that the Fel is actually corrupting and destroying life. He realizes that Gul’dan is doing more harm than good to save their people. It’s up to Durotan’s clan and the humans to unite and stop Gul’dan from continuing to destroy their world.
Here is my brief non-spoiler review of Warcraft.
With plenty of rich lore to work with, Duncan Jones crammed in way too many characters in the film. Unless you are a die-hard Warcraft fan, some of these characters felt a bit out of place. While fans will absolutely love the Orcs versus the humans aspect of it, it’s everything else in the story that makes it feel very muddled.
Characterization is huge for any movie, especially for a film that has as many characters as Warcraft. The trailers made it look like the majority of the film would focus on the fight between the humans and orcs. Unfortunately there was a lot more to the story that felt very unnecessary. For instance, you will find that a good portion of the film focuses on these two mages named Khadgar and Medivh, played by Ben Schnetzer and Ben Foster respectively.
Part of the film showed Khadgar’s growth, as he wants to learn under the tutelage of Medivh, the fabled Guardian of Tirisfal. During the film, we learn that everyone knows who this famous mage is, but we never truly get a sense of his purpose as a character. Where did this power come from, and why is he such a pivotal character in the film?
We were only given glimpses of these two characters in the trailers, but yet they play a much larger role in the film. We also find other mages in the film called the Kirin Tor. Unless you’re a big fan of the Warcraft game franchise, you may be lost in the magical lore that Jones is using here.
The land of Azeroth is absolutely stunning to look at. From its breathtaking views to its rich colors, Jones and his crew did a tremendous job making us feel as though we were actually in Azeroth. The motion capture was also perhaps the best I have ever seen in a film. The studios were so enamored with their work on the motion capture that they created their own program specifically for doing hair, which they called ‘Haircraft.’ According to Jones, hair is the most complicated feature for any CGI creation. The movement alone must have taken hours upon hours to complete.
The dedication and passion put into this project can easily be seen with the brilliant camerawork. The shots alone in this film were very well done. The battles against the orcs and humans felt real, even though you are aware that most of it is done with a green screen. Some of the quicker shots appeared as if they were out of a video game. But for the most part, Jones did a phenomenal job.
While the story felt a bit convoluted at times, the film is enjoyable overall. Whether you’re a fan of Warcraft or not, you can still take something positive out of this film. Having too many characters crammed into the film may turn some audiences off. At times, it does feel like you are given way too much information in so little time. If you walk into the movie theater wanting to learn more about the world of Warcraft and some of the rich heritage behind it, then this film will certainly give you that.
The ending also opens up the possibility of a large franchise moving forward. Jones has crafted a wonderful action/fantasy film that has a chance to grow. Fans of the game will certainly enjoy this movie, but the general movie-going audience may not be as forgiving. I still appreciated the film on its own merits, but it could have been polished a little more.
I will give Warcraft a solid 7/10 stars and say you should definitely see this movie. I am still holding out hope that video game films will take flight and become the next successful Hollywood blockbuster films. Don’t worry, we still have Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed to look forward to later in the year.
What were your feelings toward Warcraft? Was it everything you hoped it would be, or did you leave the theater feeling a bit disappointed? I’d like to hear what you have to say in the comment section below and please share!