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Warcraft
is not a great movie, but it is a pretty solid Warcraft movie.
Duncan Jones, the director of Reddit’s favorite ‘underrated gem’, Moon,
and the actually underrated ‘Source Code’, does his best to craft a
huge, populist blockbuster that also appeals to longtime fans of the RTS
(and later MMO). Unfortunately, I’d say he falls short of doing the
former, but as a previous World of Warcraft addict back in high school
and college, I enjoyed this movie for what it was: a schlocky, messy,
but ultimately fun realization of the fictional world I put so many
hours into as a kid. While I doubt this movie will convert the
unconverted, those already predisposed to the property will probably
find a lot to enjoy, despite its many glaring flaws.

One
of the things I respect about Warcraft, is that it doesn’t really care
if this whole world is strange and foreign to the audience. It throws
you right into the fray, with CG orcs, crazy portals, and neon green
magic all over the damn place. “Better get on board and buckle up”
Duncan Jones essentially says with this bold choice. It winds up being a
good way to begin however, because the character of Durotan, the Orc
chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, is easily the best, and most driven
character in the film. Toby Kebbell (Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the
Apes) brings his previous experience with mo-cap into Warcraft to great
effect. Despite the huge, ridiculous character design of Durotan,
Kebbell’s eyes have so much humanity behind them, making it easy to feel
for the plight of this massive green creature. Industrial Light and Magic is really honing in
on their CG Mo-cap character designs, as Warcraft is one of their best
creations yet.

I
mentioned above the films many flaws, and boy are there a lot. For one,
the entire thing feels too stuffed and bloated, with uneven pacing and
not enough character development (none, in most of the characters
cases). In hearing that about 40 minutes of the movie was cut by the
studio in post, I really wonder if there’s a much better, more
emotionally resonant version of Warcraft out there that Jones intended
to to release. The guy is a crazy talented director, as his resume
clearly shows, and I can’t imagine he’s overjoyed at the final product
on display here. Along with the uneven pacing and story, the actors in
the movie are profoundly miscast. Almost every actor and actress, while
fine considering, is strangely out of place in their roles. Ben Foster
is great in almost everything, but man is he a weird pick for Medivh;
powerful sorcerer and guardian of Azeroth. The casting choices are
equally as odd for most of the other human characters.

While
Warcraft wasn’t the smashing critical success and first ‘great’ video
game movie many were hoping that it’d be, I would still like to see
where they go from here. Lore-wise, this movie follows the very first
game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. There is a huge number of potential
directions to go from here, most of which I actually think would be more
interesting than this particular story. I found it surprising just how
contained to simply orcs and humans the movie is after all, with the
wealth of creatures and races in the Warcraft lore. A Warcraft sequel
that follows the son of Durotan as the main character (something this
movie oddly enough doesn’t really have?) could be awesome to see,
especially if it’s an adventure through Azeroth, delving more into the
colorful variety of denizens in this beloved world Blizzard created.

So
that about wraps up my thoughts on Warcraft. It definitely won’t be on
my top 10 for the year, but I sure had fun watching Jones bring Azeroth
come to life, flaws and all. I know this movie is not tracking well in
America (although it’s KILLING in China, interestingly enough) but I
really hope it does well enough to earn a sequel (surely with a
significantly larger Asian cast, I’m sure). I also hope it doesn’t
affect Duncan Jones’ future as a filmmaker, especially with his desire
to do more original sci-fi films next. Let me know what you thought of
Warcraft if you saw it, and as always thanks for reading!

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