Release Date: June 10, 2016
Studio: Universal, Legendary
Director: Duncan Jones
Release Format: Theatrical
Video game adaptations don’t always have a good track record. You might have favorites such as Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil, but everything else doesn’t seem to hit with audiences. Warcraft tries to fix the genre in a big way. There are some areas it succeeds, but in some it does not. What Warcraft is, is one of the few, if not first decent video game adaptations to hit the big screen. Director Duncan Jones brings to life the world of Azeroth for fans, while being able to bring in average moviegoers who are looking for an epic fantasy film.
Warcraft tells the story of the Horde, an army of unified orcs, invading Azeroth after their homes were destroyed by dark magic. For those who have played the game, this might be familiar. That is because for the most part, Warcraft is a complete retelling of the first game in the original trilogy. Jones changed some things for time and to help the movie flow a bit better.
For those who have played the game, like me, this movie will be easy to follow. If you have yet to play the games, while there are some things for you to enjoy, you could easily get lost in the plot. There are tons of nods to the games that Duncan Jones included that might make the movie a bit unbearable for the average movie goer. Despite being made, seemingly for only the gamers in mind, Warcraft leaves a longing for more when the movie is over. There is tons of potential for a big movie franchise, which could be a good thing for the video game movie adaptation genre.
The assumption you have played the games doesn’t stop with the story. That assumption continues with characters as well. Character development is low in Warcraft. You can thank few back stories being explained for that issue. It doesn’t help that some of these characters look alike. In one instance, I confused what orc I was watching on screen. Was it Ogrim? Or was it Durotan? It is a shame that characters have little development. When it comes to video game adaptations, character development always seems to take a back seat. Character development is what helps make a good story. That isn’t to say, the characters aren’t likable. Quite the contrary. It fun to watch Durotan confront Anduin Lothar as well as Black Hand fight head to head with Gul’dan.
It does help that the cast does well on screen together to help bring these characters alive. While great overall, Travis Fimmel as Lothar Anduin and his chemistry between Paula Patton’s Garona doesn’t seem believable. It feels forced. That could be the glossing over of character backstories or just the flow of things, but it is unfortunate. Ben Foster will also be another standout. He doesn’t get much screen time though as the great Medivh. Ruth Negga and Dominic Cooper are just OK as King Llane and Lady Taria.
Motion capture, not practical effects, make the orcs come to life. Even with CGI motion capture creating the orcs, you can still see their feelings and struggles. This is compared to other motion capture characters in other films where it just feels like a plain CGI model. Clancy Brown and Tony Kebbell who play Black Hand and Durotan are such great examples. Brown as Black Hand will definitely be a standout.
As for the cinematography, director Duncan Jones takes fanservice to a whole other level. Some of the shots used in the film are exact replicas of the in-game cinematics in Warcraft, such as the arriving at Stormwind and the opening scene. Taking things a bit further, some of the CGI makes the movie feel like one large Blizzard cinematic. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t great either. I found it jarring at times. One point, I thought I really was playing a video game like when Anduin flies down onto the battlefield. Might be cool in concept, not great in the final product. Definitely, will throw people off at times. Think what Doom did with the first person sequence in 2004.
As for the 3D, it was pretty smooth, but nothing special. I personally believe it is a fad that needs to die and Warcraft cement that belief. Don’t expect it to enhance the battle sequences like when Anduin flies on a griffon to battle.
Warcraft could be one of the first decent adaptations. Though there some problems with the film, particularly its fan-focused plot, there is an interest for more. Warcraft can and should be used to champion that the genre isn’t a lost cause. It can and should be used to champion that the genre isn’t a lost cause. If the problems are fixed for the sequel, we could possibly see a truly great video game adaptation.
- Characters: Characters get bogged down with little development overall while staying likable. Assuming that average moviegoers know the characters from the games isn’t a good thing.
- Cinematography: Warcraft feels like a huge mega Blizzard cinematic seen in their games because of the . While tiresome towards the end, but it still is great to see how CGI works and where it doesn’t.
- Story: The movie is almost a complete retelling of the first game in the series (before the MMO). Unfortunately, the story is hard to follow for those who haven’t played the games. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, leaving you wanting more by film’s end.
- Acting: Some solid acting from the likes of Dominic Cooper, Paula Patton, and Ben Foster. Clancy Brown is the standout as Bland Hand while other voice actors exceptionally used. Expect some big names such as Glen Close to making appearances.
- Action is beautiful to watch
- CGI was beautiful, as like watching a Blizzard Cinematic
- Pacing from one action sequence to another
- Potential, want to see more
- CGI, though beautiful, made the movie feel like an overly long Blizzard cinematic
- Some of the acting felt off
- Story hard to follow, unless played games