Warcraft movie review

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Summertime blockbuster season is in full swing and the latest entry to the silver screen arena, Warcraft, will be in a theater near you June 10th. This movie is based on the expansive video game universe created by Blizzard in the mid-1990s. The Warcraft gaming franchise and then later World of Warcraft games are fantasy-based games that feature many creatures types and elements you may recognize from similar series like Lord of the Rings. Fictitious realms that include orcs, mages, dwarves, elves, magic, portals, griffins and fantastical entities like that. While the movie is taking an early beating from Rotten Tomatoes, I can’t say that I totally agree with the harsh criticism. It would be tough to argue that Warcraft will be a candidate for any major awards, but the movie was far from a complete bust. In a review climate where moderation is unacceptable and all media must either be ‘the best ever’ or ‘absolute trash’ this is going to be a very difficult review and I don’t even know how to start it… should I equip some potions? Or maybe I should… LEEROY JENNNNKINS!!!

Warcraft is largely an ensemble cast that includes what I would consider four different ‘main characters.’ Travis Fimmel, most well known for his role as Ragnar Lothbrok in the History Channel original series “Vikings,” plays Anduin Lothar. Travis plays the role of Lothar very much the same way he does Ragnar from “Vikings.” The look in his eye, the sideways smiles, and occasionally the way he weaves his dialogue were all very reminiscent of his character on the show. Joining Lothar in the film on the side of the Alliance is the young mage, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer). Of all the casting decisions in the movie, this is one I might have done differently. By no fault of the actor directly, for one reason or another, I just couldn’t get behind this character. Paula Patton plays a halfling character named Garona, who probably has the most well-crafted character arc in the movie.

Toby Kebbell rounds out the cast of good guys as the Orc chieftain Durotan. It was a bold move for the Warcraft movie to not include any major A-list celebrity actors to the cast, and in my opinion, this makes the casting less distracting and helps serve the story a little better. The acting in Warcraft was not bad, but I also did not find myself walking away from the theater thinking that I had just witnessed a piece of theatrical acting mastery. There were definitely a few moments in the film that were emotionally charged. The actors in the movie rose to the occasion and hit their marks, but never really blew the crowd away.

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The undisputed highlight of Warcraft was the quality of the CGI and the cinematography of the action sequences. The renderings of the orc characters are very true to what you would expect from a Warcraft property. Not only did the orcs look phenomenal, but the locations and backgrounds were stunning. There is a lot more CGI in this movie than I would typically expect from a movie that is in the live-action genre. At times, the movie blurred the lines of live action and animation, but the animations were so detailed and so on point, that the bar has been raised. The facial details of not only the orcs, but dwarves, draenei, and wolves were all flawless and easy to read even the most subtle of emotions.

The fight scenes were no less impressive, albeit they were pretty predictable. The mass battles were organized very much in a pattern of either all the orcs are killing humans for about 20 seconds, then whenever a plot changing situation happens, they all simultaneously trade off and every single human is slaying an orc now, and back and forth until the movie is over. Despite the predictability of the combat and action sequences, the choreography is incredible. Warcraft maintains the flashy aesthetic of theatrically over-exaggerated fighting styles with brutal realism. There is not much blood and gore incorporated in the movie for those of you who are squeamish but expect many impalings, blunt force impact, and neck snapping.

While the acting was well enough and the CGI was stellar, the one area that I really felt the movie was lacking in was the execution of the story. Warcraft clocks in at almost two hours long exactly with the dubious task of telling at the very least four hours worth of story. By the end of the film, it’s apparent that Blizzard and co. have a larger story to tell and that this one was just an introduction, but knowing several plot points of the story and things to come before watching the movie made me hyper-aware of the things that I knew were not being conveyed to those around me, who had absolutely no experience with the game. To that same point, there were friends of mine who had seen the movie that were much bigger fans than me that after the fact had to fill me in on details of the movie that I thought made no sense.

As it turned out most of what I had originally considered to be plot holes, were just common knowledge to avid Warcraft players. The strange part is that most of these ‘holes’ could have been easily explained in the movie with only a line or two of dialogue, which leads me to believe that it’s possible they were saving the information for future films. Regardless of rhyme or reason, the story that takes place between the action sequences felt disjointed at times. The plot “twists” in the movie are also extremely obvious. For all of the problems I had with the plot feeling rushed and largely unexplained, I did quite like how the movie ended. They wrapped up the main characters story arcs for this chapter in a way that was satisfying and really did leave me wanting to see what happens next, without using cheap cliffhangers.

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Warcraft is admittedly not the sleeper movie of the year I have a feeling it could have been. In my head, I was hoping that the movie and story would be better executed. The casting and acting were not extraordinary, but in no way hindered the movie in any way. The visual effects and combat sequences are the definite highlight of the movie and left me wanting more. With the amount of movie time we got, it was a big task for them to get us all the information we needed for the film to make complete and total sense.

This movie could have very easily been broken up into two movies and would have given the storytellers more time to breathe and make sure that by the end of the films the audience was not left confused. Given how good the ending was and what has been set up for the next movie, it is a reasonable assumption that they did not want to spend two movies telling this one story because they are in a hurry to get to the part that’s coming next. If you are an avid Warcraft fan, this movie will satiate your thirst for a summer blockbuster on all fronts while average moviegoers may not feel quite the same way.

Rating: 3/5 Atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.