I’m a huge fan of all things Blizzard. I like to acknowledge my bias before I give my opinion on a topic, to be fair. Before Warcraft: Orcs and Humans or their other real-time strategy games were released, I enjoyed games such as Lost Vikings (on SNES) and I’ve come to give anything that Blizzard does a stamp of approval before playing it. The Warcraft movie has been in production limbo for years before Duncan Jones and company took the reins and moved forward almost 2 years ago. Since that time, I’ve waited with bated breath to see characters from some of my favorite games, notably World of Warcraft (WoW), on the big screen. Though the movie Warcraft is not necessarily based on the online multiplayer game, it is based on lore that all Warcraft games are built upon; most importantly the initial meeting of the Orc and Human races. I’ve played the game since “vanilla” WoW, over the course of 10 years now, where terms like “vanilla WoW” or sentences like “This noob huntard keeps pulling aggro from our pally tank” are a part of a language that only the initiated understand.
Kirin Tor Mages in the city of Dalaran
I know you didn’t read this article to hear about my fanboy nostalgia for WoW, hopefully you’re reading to see what this fanboy thinks of the movie. I’ll try to structure this review as spoiler-free as possible, at least in the beginning, and finish with a bit of spoiler-ish material to round it out. Sound good? Lets begin, shall we?
Let me begin by saying this movie was very fun to watch. Notice I didn’t say this was going to win any awards, or change the minds of would-be naysayers who already believe video game adaptations will never work on the big screen. Warcraft begins by setting the tone of the world, a fantastical set of worlds (that of the humans and the separate world of the orcs), with brighter and more vibrant colors to what is otherwise a fairly brutal and lived-in world. Fans of the source material will notice the movie changes some of the key points of the original story, but I didn’t mind the changes as they made sense when adapting so much material for a 2-hour movie. One of the initial criticisms I’ve seen is where people have made the mistake of comparing this movie to Lord of the Rings, or any other Tolkien work. The similarities between Warcraft and the works of Tolkien stop at the races involved. Period. In the movie Warcraft, two races are being presented in full: the Orcs and the Humans. Fortunately, both races are given plenty of screen time to develop their respective stories, though I would argue the orcs get the better end of the deal. The CGI was fantastic, taking much of what we’ve come to expect from Blizzard and their in-game cinematics and integrating those effects with live action. You truly got the sense that each of the battle-hardened characters in the movie had power; whether a mage or a warrior, orc or human, and for gamers it was nice to see characteristics of many of the classes were represented as well. The orcs look imposing but are far from dumb brutes. Orcs demonstrated every bit the complexity as their human counterparts, and their warrior caste culture was fully established. The movie goes as far as to explain that not all Orc clans are the same, giving a nod to fans of the game while simultaneously illustrating the complexity between the different orc clans.
Anduin Lothar, Captain of the human armies
The Orcs are easily the most well-established race of the two, with better character arcs and a more developed story and plot. This is not to say the humans are left with nothing to do, only that I was more invested with the Orc story-line and characters. Fight scenes were brutal, but that’s a good thing, as it clearly showed it was taking itself seriously. All of the main characters pulled their weight, and after multiple views I think I can safely say the acting was fine, though I’ll give a B for casting. I am a fan of the show Vikings, but the Travis Fimmel was honestly my least favorite character in the movie. Anduin Lothar is a great character from the Warcraft story, and I never felt the emotional weight he was supposed to carry. On the other hand, Toby Kebbell as Durotan was by far my favorite character, and he seemed to have the most to do. Garona (played by Paula Patton) did a great job showing the complexity of her character, though fans of the game might be a little up in arms over the changes they made to her story. Overall I can say I enjoyed the movie, and I would recommend it to fans of the game as well as fans of the fantasy genre.
Durotan of the Frostwolf clan, holding baby Thrall, and Draka (Durotan’s wife)
Now that’s out of the way, some of the fun things I saw in the movie…a bit of fan service from Duncan Jones.
Spoiler territory…don’t look if you don’t want even the most minor of spoilers!
Okay, so there was quite a bit of fan service throughout the movie. Some of which was done to further the plot, while other things seemed to be put in just for fun. I’ll list them here in bullet form, as to not ruin too much of the surprise for those that want a spoiler but don’t want to know their impact!
Battle at Redridge Mountain
- Murloc was seen Mgggggrrrggggling his way on stream through Elwynn Forest
- The Lions Pride Inn was seen, in great detail
- Goldshire looks just like it does in the game!
- Multiple races not seen in trailer, including Blood Elves and Draenei
- Grom Hellscream! Look closely to see other notable orcs!
- Ironforge is beautiful, and Khaz Modan and Redridge Mountains either shown or mentioned
- Stormwind is amazing as well, even the shingles of the different areas are color-coded like the game. You can make out almost all of the areas, including Old Town and the Mage Quarter
- Hippogriphs and Griffins…and the Stormwind griffin flight path
- The map of Azeroth is shown, and they name drop many of the locations
And many more.
I plan on seeing the movie again, and maybe again…like I said I’m a fan and the movie was fun to watch. As with any property that has a loyal fan base, I hope Warcraft does well enough to allow for sequels and the greater depth into the story that makes this game beloved by it’s fans. I think fans of the game as well as anyone who is a fan of fantasy genre films would enjoy this movie. So, don’t let the negativity of some of the reviews stop you from checking out a solid fantasy film! But what did you guys think? Let us know in the comments.