Sunday, June 26, 2016


To say video-game films have a bad-rap would be a major understatement. Ever since The Wizard and Super Mario Bros: The Movie, they have had a terrible track-record. The early-00's was an especially bad time, because Uwe Boll sunk his hooks into making game-movies for a while, and made things worse. Things got better, but then Adam Sandler made Pixels and brought things down again. The best game movies have probably been Sonic The Hedgehog: The Movie, the Tomb Raider films, and Wreck-It Ralph, and that last movie wasn't wholly-based on an existing game. Rather unfortunately, despite being brilliantly made, having a damn good story, and despite raising the bar for direct game adaptations, Warcraft still falls somewhat short of being great.
Let's get this out of the way straight off the bat. This is a gorgeous movie, and part of the reason I like it is because it's just so god-damn cool-looking!
I've never understood the idea of liking something based mainly on aesthetics until I saw this movie. Everything is just so freaking pretty. The costumes, the environments, the swords, the shields, the armor, the gear, the books, the sets, the fights, the effects, the makeup, the cinematography, the direction, the music. My god I just love to watch this film. Where some movies have unimpressive weapons, this film makes literally every single weapon look awesome, like you'd want to have it hanging on your wall. Even the Orc weapons that look like they were cobbled together from random crap are cool. The Horde armor and clothing looks really cool too, but the Alliance armor is freaking sweet, from the king, all the way down to the lowliest foot-soldier. If you want to watch something that will make you want to buy toys and/or props, this is the movie for you.
It's just a shame that the story isn't structured better. And it's a shame there are hardly any British accents in the movie. For as cool as The Alliance's gear and locations are, The Alliance characters are the weakest part of the movie. Part of that has to do with the fact that most of them just have American accents, and part of it has to do with the fact that we start about a movie too far into the story for any of the characters to be really compelling, which is a shame, because I want to care about them, since they've got the coolest gear and some awesome fights. They're not exactly the good guys in the story, but they're definitely the best-dressed.
The orcs side of the story is much more interesting, but unfortunately we're only privy to a very small portion of it. We're in yet another position where the lead-up to the story is more interesting than the story itself. Not that the story is bad, but it would benefit from being a sequel, not the first movie in the series. The orcs are fleeing their home planet to Azeroth. The portal is opened up with evil green magic powered by draining the life from living beings. Rather than being shown the origin of this magic and how the magician, Gul'dan became as he is, we are told later on in the movie. Rule #1 of storytelling: Show, don't tell. I suppose they must have cut the story down in all of the years of production, which I'll get to later on.
The Orc Horde spills over into Azeroth, and our Orc lead, Durotan's (Toby Kebbell) wife has a miscarriage, but Gul'dan brings the baby back to life at the expense of the life of a deer. I don't quite know what emotion this was supposed to elicit from us, but given the chance to sacrifice the life of a deer for a 100% chance to bring someone back to life, I'd take that chance. Anyone would. Snap decision. Unless it was someones pet, in which case no, but just a deer? In exchange for a child? I can't be expected to see that as some horrible act, any more than killing and eating the deer would be a horrible act in something like The Walking Dead. It's necessary for them to survive. For some reason though, the movies soundtrack expects me to see this as something horrible.
The orcs begin their raids, and the military of Stormwind Kingdom is taken by storm, and slaughtered. As they regroup, the commander, Anduin Lothar (Travis Femmel) finds an errant mage looking over the bodies of the fallen. The mage, Khadgar, (Ben Schnetzer) explains that he found traces of the evil Fel magic on the bodies. The mage persuades the king, Llane Wrynn to seek the help of the guardian of Tirisfal, Medvih (Ben Foster).
Lothar and Khadgar go see Medvih, who accompanies them and a scouting team tracing the remnants of Fel magic, and along the way they get ambushed by an orc party. They manage to fight them off and take a half-orc named Garona, who can speak both Human and Orc. Neither of which are English, btw.
They find out that the Orcs are planning to use all the people they've captured to bring The Horde into Azeroth at the expense of their lives.
Durotan deduces that Fel magic was responsible for the death of his world, and begins plotting against Gul'dan. He invites King Llane to a meeting to negotiate a truce, but Blackhand's Orcs ambush them, and Lothar's son is killed by the sheer incompetence of Medvih.
King Llane leads an attack on the Orc encampment, while Lothar and Khadgar deduce that Medvih must be aiding The Horde. Sure enough, he's possessed by a demon using Fel magic to aid The Horde. Lothar and Khadgar fight him and a clay golem to victory, and with the last of his life, Medvih closes the portal to Draenor and opens one to Stormwind, allowing Llane's men to retreat through with the prisoners, but not Llane himself and some of his soldiers. Lothar arrives too late to save anyone, but Llane orders Garona to kill him so she can try and take command of The Orcs herself with the honor his death would bring him. Lothar faces off with a Fel-roided Blackhand, and kills him with Llane's sword, leaving with the kings body on his griffin.
The races and governments of Azeroth form together to create The Alliance to combat The Horde, and Durotan's son is found by humans.
All in all, god-damn I wish this movie was better. I want to like this movie. I really freaking do. It doesn't exactly fall apart, more like it never really came together in the first place, and I can totally pinpoint why. This should have been Warcraft II, and there should have been another Warcraft movie ahead of it. Probably sometime last year, or two years ago. Hell, I'd say it should have been released back in 2012, it would have been amazing to see the start of this whole Warcraft story back in 2012. Then this movie could have been released in 2014 and a third Warcraft movie could have been out this year instead.
However, it's a god-damn pretty movie. I can't even get over that for a second no matter how much I try and focus on the issues with the story. I just love the swords so much. I love the armor, the environments, the effects, everything. This is such a polarizing movie for me, since on the one hand I love it for the aesthetics, and I love it for some parts of the story, but on the other hand I wish they'd bothered covering all of the lead-up to the events in this film. Plus, there are way too many American accents in this cast. King Llane is freaking British, and European accents are standards for fantasy settings. I'm not saying they should have put on bad accents if they couldn't put on good ones, I'm just saying they should have at least tried.
Then there's the fact that hardly anyone in this movie speaks with any kind of pomp and circumstance. The orcs do, Llane does, but Medvih, Lothar and Khadgar don't.
As far as accuracy to the games goes, I wouldn't really know beyond the fact that Gul'dan looks like something out of WoW. I've never beaten Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and I don't own any of the other games. I played quite a bit of World of Warcraft right after it went Free To Play, but I wasn't particularly impressed by it. Best I can tell you is that everything looks about right, and if it's not, who cares? It's a freaking gorgeous movie.
The worst I can say about the effects is that in the very first scene in the movie, the orcs look like they were stripped out of WoW and given a bunch of extra polygons and points of articulation in their skeletons. In fact, the first few minutes of the film have a generally strange air to them, as if they were using incomplete, under-polished animation and CGI. Thankfully it's solved immediately afterwards, but it's still off-putting.
In the end... I can't decide, really. I know I'm going to get it on Blu-Ray as soon as I possibly can, because I really want to see another Warcraft movie. Hell, I might even wind up re-installing Warcraft and playing it. I do love me some old-school RTS.
I guess I'm going to have to abstain from giving this film a score since I'm so conflicted about it. I'll be back again next week, hopefully I can give a more definitive review then. Probably either gonna be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows or Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.

Image from