Saying that World of Warcraft, or Blizzard, has had little impact on the modern gaming world would be the furthest thing from the truth.
Pioneers in quality games, Blizzard is responsible for the most groundbreaking MMORPG of our time. And ultimately, the cinematic recreation of that game is a success, despite the initial critical reception. After all, it’s no secret that High Fantasy films, historically, tend to do score lower.
Visually, Warcraft is one of the most aesthetically pleasing films I have ever watched. With a heavy focus on the Orcs and the Humans, Blizzard spared no expense in making the ‘monsters’ of Azeroth appear life like. Orcs aren’t the only mythical race to make an appearance however, and each one is crafted with as much pride and understanding as the main races in the film.
Even the most feared scenes for movie makers – that mythical gryphon ride through the skies – was absolutely breathtaking. The Gryphon’s appeared more realistic than any other live action ‘flight’ scene, and I believe it is the most genuine we will see for a long time to come.
In comparison to other movies where the green screen is actively visible in high fantasy settings, it appears that Warcraft has either used real backdrops or done an incredible job at making them look real. The first time that they show off Ironforge, Stormwind, or Dalaran, fans of the franchise should be jumping with joy for how realistic and true to the game they look.
Personally, I am not a fan of 3D films. But in the case of Warcraft, the 3D took a few minutes to adjust to, but once I had it looked second nature to the film. The movie may even come across as disappointing when viewing it in 2D, although I’m sure the panoramic shots will look a bit better without the 3D that seems to be forced into playing catch up.
The soundtrack is reminiscent of the games, to the point that parts of it might as well have been taken from World of Warcraft directly. One thing’s for sure though, when you aren’t busy watching leaders make tactical decisions or fights breaking out, the music and scenery is enough to take your breath away on its own.
Without getting into spoiler territory, the Warcraft film is terribly inaccurate when it comes to lore from the franchise. Although the movie may not be satisfying for fans who want a completely accurate re-telling, it works well as a film adaption. There are only two major plot points that might seriously affect any potential sequels for the film, so here’s hoping they are already trying to figure out how to recover from that.
Surprisingly, the movie fleshes out some details that are left rather unknown in the Warcraft lore, specifically points of interest with the half-orc half-draenei character Garona. It’s appealing to see some of her actions finally explained, and hopefully we will get a more in depth look into what this character has to offer in the future.
For those of you worried that Warcraft makes women a damsel in distress side character, fear not. All of the female characters added into the franchise have a point, a purpose, and overall, make a strong impact on the film.
If there is one thing Warcraft fails at, it’s the lack of build up surrounding a strong protagonist character. Although we have several to choose from on both sides (Orgrim, Durotan, Lothar, Khadgar, … The list goes on, really) Warcraft chooses not to focus on one, and the movie misses out dramatically in this sense.
The antagonist is clearly defined from the beginning, and will come to no shock to players who have enjoyed the stories throughout the games and books all these years. And to be frank, even those unaware of the plot points will probably get the hint within the first half hour or so.
As a fan of the Warcraft universe, I have difficulty relating to those who say the film “doesn’t make sense”. The moment a character appears on screen I quickly connect it with the one I know from all the books and games I’ve experienced.
However, even without knowledge of the Warcraft universe, the movie does a good job of giving you the necessary information on characters.
The relationship between Orgrim Doomhammer and Durotan feels more genuine than ever before, carefully highlighting the laughter that can be shared even in times of strife.
One of the more prominent relationships building throughout the film, however, is that between Khadgar and Lothar. Although it differs greatly from what is found in the lore, it’s hard not to enjoy the differences found within the movie. Khadgar has, in recent years, become more of a focus point in the lore. It’s nice to see the character transition smoothly into the film, and he is quite possibly the most enjoyable character found within Warcraft. At least on the Alliance side, that is.
Warcraft does not shy away from using magic in the film, with both the Fel and the more pure Arcane magics’ special effects bringing together the film and establishing it as a groundbreaking masterpiece in regards to it’s CGI. It’s always a treat to see Gul’dan, Medivh, and Khadgar prepare or use a spell.
The film actually does a better job introducing the Alliance figures then it does the Horde, despite the focus of the film leaning more towards the orcs. With traditions and a history foreign to humans, I imagine it’ll take a few more movies before those unfamiliar with the lore understand the meaning behind most of the scenes shown here. That isn’t to say the movie was difficult to comprehend. The Horde traditions just have more meaning than meets the eye.
The different cultures exhibited in the Alliance on the other hand, are simply more familiar to a general audience. Their conflicts throughout the film differ from that of the Orcs, focusing more on past relationships and unexpected new threats. For years the lands of Azeroth has been at peace, and suddenly those not of the world impose their issues on it. The first priority of the Alliance is on protection, while the Orcs’ is on destruction.
It’s difficult not to feel empathy for both sides, as Duncan Jones does an excellent job directing and retelling such an old story into something that feels like more of a gray area. Both sides are accompanied by good and evil characters, creating even more conflict within the war. How can you call an enemy truly evil, when in the end, they aren’t?
Warcraft doesn’t feel draggy at any point during the film, having the 2 hours and 3 minutes fly by. From beautifully directed fight scenes to engaging plot points, there is so much going on your mind won’t have a minute to rest.
Afterwards, you are left with the pouring out of epic music as the theatre staff come in and tell you “No, nothing is at the end of the credits”. But believe me when I say, the music during the credits is enough to make you stick around.
Perhaps the most epic thing about viewing this film in the theatre was the crowd that it generated. In essence, I experienced being in the World of Warcraft community – in person – for the first time, an experience historically reserved only for those that could make it to BlizzCon.
It’s difficult not to give the movie a better score based on the experience that I had in the theatre, but it’s also something that we must recognize is not part of the film itself. Even if, perhaps, part of the reason why we have entertainment mediums is to better connect and understand others. It’s a means of an escape from a world that, at this point in time, has become pretty dull to most.
Warcraft leaves on an open-ended note, and fans will know exactly where we are headed. At least 2 more action packed, gut wrenching, and overall exciting war movies are on the horizon for the franchise, and perhaps more in depth looks at the characters.
Ground breaking visually and filled with tearful moments and packing a few laughs to boot; Blizzard’s adaption of the massive fantasy franchise is something that should satisfy even those outside of the Warcraft family. The wartime high fantasy film lacks the setup that Lord of the Rings has, but offers incredible fight scenes and an entertaining plotline.
I gladly welcome the future of Warcraft, and fans of the game should be relatively pleased with the big screen adaption that we have all waited so long to see. It isn’t perfect, but it definitely satisfies.