Hot Take: The first 90 minutes suffers from a weak story and one dimensional characters. When the big battle starts though, damn if it isn’t visually impressive enough to pull out a satisfying conclusion to an otherwise scattered and feckless fantasy.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been a fan of the World of Warcraft series. I’ve watched friends play the game and listened to the chatter yet the only things I’ve found entertaining are the South Park episode that parodied the game and, of course, Leroy Jenkins! Unfortunately, due to the lack of connection to the franchise, Warcraft didn’t make a lot of sense for the first 30 minutes or so. At least that’s what I’m blaming it on. The opening of the film is likely to only be bearable to an actual WoW fan but even that is a stretch as the opening is torture.
Eventually, Warcraft finds a rhythm. Director Duncan Jones does an adequate job of parsing excellent action sequences with fatuous sequences of dialogue present to advance the storyline. After a while, you wish there was a bell that rings to let you know when to start paying attention again. Hey, maybe that’ll be a feature of the DVD! At least in a video game, you can skip the in-game cinematic and advance back to the good stuff. If only Warcraft had that feature, we’d be looking at a much more entertaining movie… with a run time closer to one hour instead of two.
If one thing does work, it’s the battle scenes. The visuals are impressive. The sequences are flashy and prove the most entertainment the movie has to offer. You can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater though and all of the unwatchable parts still exist. It’s an amazing feat that Warcraft isn’t one of the worst movies of 2016 because it has to be one of the worst concepts. Video game movies aren’t going away but it’s proven over and over again that they just don’t work. Give Warcraft credit for only failing a little bit instead of failing at the cataclysmic level it could have failed.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Paula Patton: One Hot Orc
Among the visually impressive feats of Warcraft was the conversion of Paula Patton into a nubile, badass orc named Garona. Again, like the rest of the characters, her script is about as entertaining as paint drying on a humid day but that’s not her fault.
- Epic Score
The score composed by Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi raises the stakes of the film. It also helps distract from the storyline which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Lothar? Of the Hill People???
When naming characters in Warcraft, it might have been a good idea to not choose a name associated with a moderately known Saturday Night Live skit. Just sayin’!
- Think of the Others!
Granted, WoW has a huge subscriber base but people somewhat unfamiliar with the game might happen to end up viewing Warcraft. It wouldn’t have taken much to avoid alienating the non-gamer audience but Jones and his band of filmmakers chose to go all-in and stay closer to gamespeak.
- Why’d They Let Ben Foster Escape From a Biblical Film?
Ben Foster plays Medivh who is the Guardian of… look, I can’t remember the names of all the different places they threw out in the movie. He guarded somewhere important, okay? He looks more like an extra from The Young Messiah who wandered onto the set of Warcraft by mistake. I guess once he wandered on to the set, it was nice of them to find him a part.