- Directed and Co-Written by Duncan Jones
- May 24, 2016 (Le Grand Rex) / June 10, 2016 (US)
- Based on the Warcraft videogame series
The orc warlock Gul’dan leads the Horde in its invasion of Azeroth using a magic portal and now a few humans as well as dissenting orcs must attempt to stop the true evil and restore peace.
As videogame movies go Warcraft is absolutely astounding. As general films go it’s still pretty good. Warcraft seeks rise above its source material and becomes something epic and deep and it mostly accomplishes that.
This is a complicated story but not unnecessarily complicated. There are films that will watch where problem after problem gets layered on by the writers and it’s clear in those cases that the writers are adding problems to stretch out the story in an attempt to make things more sophisticated as well as justify the runtime. What we get here though is the complications arising because of the presented scenario.
To begin with I am unfamiliar with Warcraft mythology. My closest exposure was a video played on loop I watched at a local Walmart late at night that had pandas in it so I went in to this seriously blind. I am still not sure where the pandas fit in or if I am getting something else mixed up with Warcraft.
In this story a group of Orcs are attempting to flee their dying homeworld of Draenor and conquer the human world Azeroth. As it turns out the magic that they use-the fel-to get to the human world is what is killing their world and apparently it’s just a corrosive and evil thing. Their social structure makes a peaceful resolution to the conflict all but impossible. Add to that this dark magic works behind the scenes in order to further its goals.
I found the story engaging. It was very meaty with a great deal going on. The world we got felt lived in and I was left thinking Jones dove seriously into the mythology. One of his strongest points is that the story of Warcraft is essentially self-contained while also leaving just enough for a follow up film. While the aim was to have another film, the screenwriters were smart enough to wrap up the majority of story points here rather than leave the bulk dangling. The big one which would obviously form the connecting thread for the envisioned series is left unresolved though.
And the finale was more than just a kill-the-bad-guy finale where the villain ends up a corpse with no obvious possibility of return. While there was an epic battle, they use some creativity and previously revealed plot elements to craft an ending that was not lazy. That intelligence gives this something special and is sprinkled throughout the narrative.
Warcraft though is not a film without its flaws and one of its flaws are everyone looks very young. Several of the characters have adult children and they just don’t look old enough to be parents. Maybe add some grey hairs to the actors involved?
For example Garona (Paula Patton) is a half-Orc character in this film and it’s heavily implied that Medivh (Ben Foster), the Guardian of Azeroth, in his younger days traveled to her world and is her father though that is something that is not outright stated. It’s one of those things that’s communicated without being directly said. The thing is Ben Foster does not look at all old enough to have an adult daughter.
Another example is Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) who is the military commander of the human forces of the Stormwind Kingdom and just as youthful looking as Medivh yet he too has an adult child who serves in the military under his command. I am assuming that puts the boy at 18 at the minimum.
I did a quick check just out of curiosity on the ages of the two actors playing these characters with adult children and they were in their mid-30s or so when this movie came out. You can make some head canon that they both had their children very young but that’s just your head cannon and nothing is said in the narrative about that. In other words they hired young actors because they planned a movie series and they wanted the people to not be geriatric whenever the final film came out.
One of this film’s larger flaws is the CGI and that takes you out of the narrative. You know what you’re looking at isn’t real but it’s hard to become too invested in something that is clearly fake. CGI should highlight what you’re seeing. If it’s the go to item then it’s hard to invest in something that your mind clearly says is a complete fiction. It reaches a point at times that you are watching an animated feature and not a live action film.
The story though is excellent and its execution is fantastic which helped get me through the way too young actors and the heavy CGI. As I said it’s complicated but not unnecessarily complicated. The situation they present forces everything else that follows. And despite exceedingly young actors, they all do a fine job. They aren’t a half-assing it but rather giving it their all. Too often video game movies do not feature quality acting or quality anything really, but this is not the case here. And the characters themselves are not generic and interchangeable. They have their own personalities and motivations and the actors portraying them make them feel real.
Warcraft is a better than it should have been videogame film. It’s a complex story with well-defined and sophisticated characters. Despite my issues with it I definitely recommend this though you’ll be disappointed that nothing followed it up.