“Warcraft” Review

No.  This movie is not as bad as every “professional” critic says it is.  I am not just saying that because I’m a millennial raised by video games and TV.  Actually, I have never played World of Warcraft (so don’t expect me to get the terminology 100% right).  I don’t like those kinds of games, and I have no real knowledge of the game aside from Leeroy Jenkins (the joke had to be made at some point).  However, that did not deter me from anticipating this movie, which I had very high hopes for.  The budget is reportedly $160 million, they hired Duncan Jones (Source Code, Moon) to direct /write it, and the trailers looked surprisingly promising.  That being said, the movie itself doesn’t achieve its potential quality; let’s go over why.

Warcraft is directed by Duncan Jones and written by Duncan Jones and Charles Leavitt.  Stars-Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, and Ben Schnetzer.  Premise-The fictional world of Azeroth is invaded by Orcs searching for a fertile new home.

I am thoroughly convinced that critics are automatically giving negative reviews to video game movies just because they have a track record worse than Adam Sandler.  God knows they have a horrible history, but video game movies can (and have) delivered (Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill).  I suggest that you view The Unusual Suspect’s “Top 10 BEST Video Game Movies” video before or after reading this review.  The video is 45 minutes long, but it is: incredibly funny, very informative, and has quite a few interesting ideas.  One of those ideas was the possibility that a renaissance of video game movies would come in 5 years or so.  I don’t agree with that idea as strongly after watching The Angry Birds Movie, but I still have hopes for it to be true.  I can definitely say this about Warcraft; the budget was utilized very well.  The: costumes, sets, props, and F/X are incredibly detailed.  I know everyone is going to immediately call out the somewhat lackluster motion-capture CGI on the Orcs (and those people are just looking for a reason to hate the movie); but everything else is amazing.  This is one of the best looking movies of the year.  The scale is brought to live through fine cinematography, strong sound design, and Jones’ attention-to-detail direction.  The music is also spectacular; it gets you pumped and sounds epic.

I’m sure many people have compared this movie to Lord of the Rings just because they’re both adapted fantasy epics, but let us be fair here, how many movies are as perfect as The Lord of the Rings trilogy?  It’s like comparing Unbreakable to The Sixth Sense (both written/directed by M. Night Shyamalan); they both have a majorly similar factor, but they are different films focusing on different storylines.  I don’t know how faithful of an adaptation Warcraft is, but it certainly entertains.  We see mages, Orcs, dwarves, elves, knights, kings, magic, and all kinds of fantastic battle sequences which show up at just the right time to balance out the exposition and character-driven scenes.  The characters are nothing groundbreaking, but at least I remember them, enjoyed watching them on screen, and the actors do a pretty fine job given the script and dialog they had to work with.  We even get some fun comedic moments from the actors.

This movie’s flaws are distracting, but not nearly as problematic as you’d think.  There are quite a few moments and character arcs that I saw coming from a mile away, there are a few character decisions that make little sense, and there are a few pointless characters.  The film editing is pretty lackluster; most of the time a scene will cut and feel incomplete, but he worst thing about this movie is the ending.  You know how we are having so many adaptations that are trying way too hard to set up a franchise rather than create a standalone film (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman v Superman)?  Warcraft does that in a weird way.  The first 75% of the film is a standalone film, but the remaining 25% is filled with obvious setups for the next movie (which I would actually love to see).  Subsequently, the ending feels rushed and slightly incomplete.  Honestly I don’t know which is worst: a movie that spends its entire runtime scared to death that people won’t see the sequel (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), or a movie that saves all of its sequel building exposition to the end.  Let’s just go with, “Hollywood producers (looking at you Sony), all you have to do is make a freaking good movie and that will ensure that audiences will return for more.”  I grow tired of repeating that.

Warcraft is not perfect, it is not that revolutionary of an epic, but it is undeniably a good video game movie.  That alone makes Warcraft worth the watch.  The action is entertaining, the technical aspects are near-perfect, and the lore is rich enough to make up for the occasionally poor storytelling.  Warcraft gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B.

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