June 18, 2016

"Warcraft" Review


It's finally here, and I finally saw it: Warcraft.

So far, it seems that there a lot of movies this summer that have been getting bad reviews by the critics: X-Men: Apocalypse, Ninja Turtles, and Warcraft. Of all those, Warcraft is the one I've been waiting the longest to see, as well as the one I want to see the most. There area few reasons for this:

- I've played the games and heard of the name Warcraft as far back as '95-'96. I own the first two games, played the third, and some of World of Warcraft (from '06 -'10...I think "Secrets of Ulduuar was my last new content.)

- the movie has been talked about and planned for so long

- Blizz Con 2015 footage won me over

So, how is the movie?

Well let's see here....the film is based on the very first video game when orcs and humans meet for the first time ever. So, no: this is not a World of Warcraft movie. Your jokes and references about that game have no place here. 
 
It feels very unique in regards to 'what is it like'. When I saw that panel that convinced me that I definitely wanted to see this film, the director / producers mentioned that "it's like The Lord of the Rings mixed with Avatar." After seeing the entire film, but more so with pictures and trailers, that is definitely a fair statement. This is a CGI-heavy film. All the orcs are motion capture, and there's spells, gryphons, etc...definitely a 'traditional' fantasy. Sure, Gandalf was awesome in The Lord of the the Rings but we never saw him throwing lighting spells, or teleporting. You get more of that in here. So visually, expect something like Avatar in that it's CGI + live action.

I mentioned the story. Now, I have prior knowledge and some exposure to the source material so it wasn't that hard for me to follow...but it was quick. The run time is just over 2 hours, and it feels short. Or rather it feels the 2 hour length. The movie explains itself and what's going on, but it's constantly 'go go go'. The director had said that he cut 40 minutes off, the initial run time was about 2 hours and 40, or even 2 hours and 45. Like a few other films I saw, sometimes a longer run time actually benefits or helps a movie. Remember how the extended version of The Hobbit: Part 3 saved the film? Now, with these 40 extra minutes (which could make it into a blu-ray director's cut), the film could have slowed down a bit and explained a few things. I don't mean a screeching halt. If you've never played any Warcraft before, how will you know what Ironforge and Stormwind are? OK, they're cities. But....what else? The Lord of the Rings gave insight into locations, people, etc...Some of that exposition was missing in Warcraft, potentially losing non-gamers in the story, and therefore, having them dislike the film.

The action, effects and music are all top notch. Azeroth looks like Azeroth. It looks different from Westeros, and looks different from Middle-earth. So visually, the film succeeds. Most notably and best are the graphics and effects on the orcs. Durotan was one of the highlights of the film for me based on this. Fel is very distinctive as well. There's also some good easter eggs for those that have played the games: a murloc fishing (yes, complete with 'that' noise), and my favourite: sheeping.

The music is also quite well done. Now, marketing should not affect the film itself, but I gotta say, the marketing for this film was utter trash. Especially on the facebook page. It could have had better (or rather, different) advertising. I would have liked to see the advertising, merchandise etc closer to something like The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones rather than 'random summer movie'. One of the previews also had techno/edm/dubstep or whatever the kids are calling it these days. That definitely does not fit with a fantasy movie. I'm pleased to say that there was none of that in the film itself. I'm listening to the score right now actually as I write this review.

The acting, while not the best, is still pretty good. There are a few unknowns or celebrities that aren't always in the media spotlight that shine here. Travis Fimmel is amazing as Ragnar on Vikings and is likewise here. Perhaps it's his acting style, or maybe the type of role but both characters feel very similar here. That's not a negative, mind, just an observation. The cast is large and vast so I can't comment on each and every single character here.

Bottom line? The movie is nowhere as bad as the critics are saying, or what the sub-par marketing has lead to believe. However, it's not quite the same level of quality as say The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Depending on what the cut 40 minutes show, with those scenes back, in the film could have been better. To me, they did a great job in bringing Azeroth to life. It will be neat to see what a possible sequel could be about..I mean, in what area of the lore will they see fit to make another film out of? I enjoyed it enough to see more of them, should they get made.
I give Warcraft an overall

7 / 10

If you played any of the games ever, like fantasy movies and are looking for a 'fix', or a good time at the cinema, check it out. Don't expect another Lord of the Rings, though.

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