This is a call out to both followers of the Horde and the Alliance alike. If you love your online player versus player and questing across the invite and enemy infested landscapes of Azeroth, then you have surely been waiting years for the big screen treatment of Warcraft to grace your movie screens. Now, the wait is over as Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones has brought this epic video game, beloved by millions across it’s twenty two years of existence, to the masses and I think those fans are going to be extremely happy. Those who don’t have a single clue about the game and all of it’s intricacies will feel decidedly less enthused, bored and maybe a little bit confused.
Jones is a director that is on a hot list of filmmakers that audiences have really dug on. Moon is listed among the best of the recent sci-fi films, evoking the paranoid feelings we got from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Source Code, although a bit predictable at it’s core, was a fun sci-fi tinged mystery thriller. When it was announced that he would helm a Warcraft film, which had been in development for ten years before release, the movie world did a collective “Huh”? It wasn’t a positive or negative reaction but a wait and see attitude. Little did we know that Jones was actually a massive fan of the game.
Now I’m going to try and encapsulate what Warcraft is about for the uninitiated. The film opens on Draenor, the homeworld of the orcs, one that is dying rapidly. The only hope for the survival of their species is Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), an orc sorcerer who commands a dark magic called the Fel, which opens a portal to a new world called Azeroth. Hell bent on survival, all of the orcs band together with the common goal of getting to this world, including clan leader Durotan (Toby Kebbell), his pregnant mate Draka (Anna Galvin), and his friend Orgrim Doomhammer (Robert Kazinsky). Sacrificing another species lives, the draenei, the orcs are able to make it to the other side where Draka is able to give birth to their son.
On the other side of what will soon become the war in Warcraft is the human side, residing in the kingdom of Stormwind under the rule of King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper). Upon word of a new enemy attack villages across the land, the King calls for his military commander Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) to return from the dwarf kingdom of Ironforge. While inspecting the bodies of the fallen men, a young mage named Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) reveals that the victims had been killed using Fel magic, the same that helped the orcs cross over. The two then head to find the guardian, a powerful mage Medivh (Ben Foster) who tells them to follow the evil magic. This leads them right into a conflict with the new Azeroth occupants, the orcs and sets up our main focus of the film.
Now, if you’re going to look up this film on the big review websites, like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, you will see that many critics have outright condemned this film, some going as far as calling it this generation’s Battlefield Earth. I will go out on a limb for this movie and say that this is a massively unfair beating of this movie by a bunch of people who don’t get the first thing about the story and are so brashly committed to destroying anyone’s intentions of going to see it. This is far from the audience that this film was geared towards and a voice far removed from the target audience.
Warcraft is a gorgeous and richly texture film that drips with the lore that it is based on. With constant references and nods to things that the most dedicated game players will adore, it’s obvious that Blizzard, who oversaw the entire film themselves, wanted to make a rewarding film to those that have dedicated massive amounts of time and money to this world that may be as real to them as the outside one. The acting isn’t perfect but I dare any fan of the series to say that the story isn’t spot on but in a more theatrical constraint. Already I have seen tweets and messages of thanks to Blizzard and Duncan Jones himself for making a thoroughly faithful adaptation, no matter what the word of people outside the franchise say.
Warcraft is supposed to serve as the opening to a wide franchise, something that seemed utterly outlandish when it was released a couple weeks back in Europe but that opinion might be a changing one with it’s 100 million dollar boom in China in it’s first two days of release and what the impending box office is here in North America. There are millions upon millions upon millions of World of Warcraft players across the world right now and I’m sure they will be heard and Universal and Blizzard will oblige again.
I know in my company of movie critics I will be the black sheep when ask “Oh man, how bad was Warcraft?” and I reply “I actually liked it.” I’m bracing for it and I’m ready for it because I have no shame in hiding my past love for this series and hell, this movie really made me want to pick up where I left off and start questing again, as I’m sure it will do for a lot of players who has since fallen off of their duties for the Alliance or Horde. For me, I’m ready and willing to keep taking this journey and see Deathwing and the Lich King one day. Yes, I’m that kind of nerd. I give Warcraft a three out of five.