This past weekend I saw the Warcraft movie not once, but twice. Friday was date night. Moxie, from BattlePriestess.net, put together a raid party consisting of my wife and I, her husband, and two other couples. We faced the Cheesecake Factory gear check, then downed the IMAX boss that night. Saturday afternoon I put a low level dungeon group together when I took my kids to the 3D showing.
Was the opening paragraph too nerdy? Screw you! J You’re reading (probably not) a blog about MMO’s…where I am currently talking about WoW, but I promise to talk about other games eventually…
With all of the negative critic reviews, how was the movie? In my opinion, great. Was it the greatest movie of all time? Not even close. Was it a fun ride in the universe of Warcraft? Hell yes, and that is all that really matters to me. I don’t buy in to all of the movie snobs who are looking for some massive artistic piece with phenomenal acting and an insanely deep, edge-of-your-seat plot. I wanted to see Orcs and Humans on the big screen, battling, and ultimately neither being good guys or bad guys. Mission accomplished. That still doesn’t mean the movie was perfect.
Without spoilers, let’s get into it.
Director Duncan Jones was told by the studio the movie was too long. They forced him to cut 40 minutes to bring it down to the two hour mark, 2:03 to be exact. You can not only tell this, you can literally feel it. Some scenes feel rushed, cut at odd times, or no explanation of what was going on. I still feel it did a good job of grabbing you and slamming down on the throttle, but I know this is a major complaint from some people. They want to know all of the little details but the details are likely on the cutting room floor. This may be a case where the Director’s Cut should have been the actual movie. Hopefully we get the chance to see this with the Blu-ray release.
Some of the people complaining know a bit about the lore and are claiming “it doesn’t make sense why X is acting or doing those things because they didn’t give Y as the explanation.” No, you’re wrong. For example, a large piece revolving around Medihv is not even whispered about. It didn’t need to be. They can address it in a later movie. Would it have been better to explore it? As a fan of the lore, absolutely! Warcraft was already trying to achieve ton of things, so to even mention it in passing would have required a lot more storytelling. This was about Orcs vs Humans and the why’s. The how’s can be explored later but I do not think it hurts the plot of this particular movie. There is also another fairly huge piece at the end that was left out, but they could not have ended a one-off movie like that. It could be the very first scene of the next movie if they get to make it. However, if they do not get that opportunity it would have been a terrible cliffhanger that never got explained, making people hate on the movie even more. They are not assuming they will get a second movie. Besides that, I have spoken with a few people who know nothing of the lore or the games. They didn’t even know anything was missing.
The lore changes were pretty drastic in a few places, but the overall narrative was left intact. The characters that die still die, but not in the exact series of events according to the games and books. The reason for this is simple, it is a movie. The games have had over 20 years to tell you a story and flesh out subplots. The movie had two hours to get a ton of things done. It did feel like a complete setup for future movies, almost as if they wanted the foundation laid so they can take their time with other, more intricate storylines. Again, I am fine with this.
Acting was a bit of a sore spot for a lot of people. The general consensus is that the Orcs were amazing. They had a lot of depth and felt very believable. Meanwhile, the humans were flat and boring. I can’t totally disagree with this, but I also don’t think they were as bad as some of the movie snobs are making them out to be. Travis Fimmel’s portrayal of Lothar was very Ragnar-like from the show Vikings. He had little quirky movements and attitude. There is one scene in particular I feel like he failed miserably, but I also understand why they did it. If the scene had more emotion it could have hurt the idea of “any sacrifice to protect the realm,” so to speak. I won’t argue with the critics if they claim the Orcs stole the show, but I also feel that had to be by design. Viewers would naturally associate with the humans. Duncan and crew wanted us to feel the tragedy of the Orcs. They wanted to make sure the Orcs were not the bad guys. It does come across all shades of grey, so maybe that is why they toned down the humans a bit, to level them off for casual movie-goers. Let’s be honest, a normal movie viewer will see the Orcs and instantly think they are the monsters coming to take over. That said, and if this is really what they did with the acting, it did fail. The human part of the saga could have had more emotion simply because they nailed the Orcs so well. Durotan does feel like the main character for most of the film, which also makes the ending a little hard to digest because it almost portrays Stormwind as the main character. The acting is arguably the most important part of a movie, and sadly in Warcraft’s case it was the part they missed on the most.
The computer generated characters and effects were pretty amazing. The very first picture of Durotan looked like we were seeing a real-life Orc. There were moments when the movie felt cartoony and fake, particularly when viewing in 3D, but that is Warcraft. It is cartoony. Damn anyone who forgets that. The orcs looked like the incredible hulk because they are. In the games they are roughly the same size as the humans, but they have massive shoulders and huge hands. I don’t understand the complaint against the proportions. The film’s take of a cartoony artistic style and converting it to “real-life” felt spot on. The sets all felt exaggerated, just like in the games. It was possibly the best mix of in-game artistic style with real-life any game movie has ever achieved. The spell affects were awesome. The Orcs were awesome. The CGI was awesome.
Overall I feel the movie was solid. With confidence, I will proclaim Warcraft is the best video game movie ever made. I know the bar is currently set extremely low, but this will raise that bar a bit. Hopefully more movies are made and the bar keeps going up. The movie almost feels like a proof of concept designed to feel out the audience and test methodology. Hopefully there are more movies and they nail the formula when telling the story of Thrall and/or Arthas. Those two will be much easier stories to tell and likely lend themselves to the screen much more.
I give Warcraft a solid B+, or 89/100, or 4/5, or whatever scale you want to use. I highly recommend it. It has some issues, but it gets a lot more right than wrong. Most importantly, it was a fun ride. If you disagree, good for you! Just stop taking life so seriously and expecting everything to be an instant classic or top movie of all time. Sometimes, movies can just be fun.
So there you have it. Opinions are like assholes and you’ve just seen mine. Share yours in the comments!