Warcraft never changes. Or something like that. Saw Warcraft on Thursday night. Overall, the wife and I enjoyed it. That said, I don’t know how well people that didn’t play Warcraft, or aren’t currently playing World of Warcraft will be able to follow the movie. My knowledge of the characters was aided a bit by the fact that I had just played a section of the Warlords of Draenor expansion that had many of the characters featured in the movie. But this movie does jump around some, and while it does give okay characterizations, it does hope that you recognize the names to fill in some blanks.
That said, I don’t think the movie is too difficult to follow. You just can’t think about it during the movie. And I don’t mean that you need to turn your brain off. By all means, please keep your brains on during the movie. Otherwise, you’ll be even more lost. What I mean by this is that don’t spend time while watching the movie to think about it. If you do this, odds are that you’ll miss something else. What you should is take a mental note if something confuses you, and look it up when you get home.
Side note, I’m really glad that I didn’t intentionally try to familiarize myself with all of the characters. I just read a wiki articles on just Lothar and Gul’dan, and this movie is very much the story of The First War. You know, Warcraft 1. And based upon what I have read up on so far, it seems like a fairly faithful adaptation. Some of the Durotan stuff was simplified and condensed, and the Garona stuff was given motivations that may not have been there, it otherwise seems like a pretty faithful adaptation. As faithful of an adaptation that you’re likely to see.
The basic premise of the movie is that the Orcs’ home is being destroyed by something. Or maybe someone. Not really certain what is the case, as we don’t really see the world, other than the area immediately surrounding the portal. Led by Gul’dan, the Horde (Orcs) come through the portal, which is opened by the use of Fel magic. What Fel magic is exactly isn’t entirely explained. We just know that it’s green, and it requires the life force of other beings to be drained by the user.
So, the Orcs come through the portal, including a chieftain named Durotan, whose right hand man may be Ogrim Doomhammer. Both are pretty important characters in the lore of Warcraft, but only Durotan gets much characterization. But it’s really good characterization. When doing a Warcraft movie, it’s very important to be certain that you don’t split the good guys and bad guys down purely racial lines. That’s not how the game works. You don’t have humans as the good guys and orcs as the bad guys, or vice versa. The character you create defines who you view as good guys and bad guys. The problem is that this is not an interactive movie. The view has no point of view in this. So, it’s really important for the storyteller to remain neutral in the allegiances. Durotan is the character that enables this within the orcs. Sure, they are a people defined by war, but orcs aren’t entirely blood-thirsty beings. They can love and care also. They can be reasonable when the situation calls for it.
The main human character is Anduin Lothar. I’ll be honest, having only played World of Warcraft, I didn’t really know anything about Anduin Lothar. I liked the character. Lothar was a good display of all of the emotions you expect from a human character. It sounds a bit strange to say human character, but that is something that you have to differentiate. Each of the races in Warcraft have their distinct traits and values, with a range centered around that base. Now, is this the Lothar that exists in the first Warcraft game? I don’t know. I just know that this is a Lothar that I can get behind. One that I can see rising up to the status of the Lothar in the game. All based on what I just read about Lothar.
Really, only orcs and humans are focused on in this movie, but that’s the way it was for the first game as well. There are teases or introductions for some of the other races as well, though. We get a brief glimpse of the Draenei as Gul’dan has prisoners on the other side of the portal. The Dwarves are introduced, even getting a couple lines while in Ironforge. The Night Elves are shown, but they don’t really do anything. And it is also implied, kind of, that there are other human groups out there that aren’t in Stormwind. None of the other Horde races were shown.
Overall, the acting is fine. No one is going to win any awards for this, but whatever. There aren’t any performances that you roll your eyes at. Nothing that takes you out of the story. No one is out-acting everyone else. Adequate is probably the best way I can describe it. And that’s not meant to be a knock on it. Adequate is in that “meets expectations” section of a job review. You’re doing the job required. No worse, no better.
The movie is really pretty. All of the orcs look great. The scenery looks great. They really took advantage of the source material to design the locations. Stormwind looks like Stormwind. Ironforge looks like Ironforge. It was wise to not try to re-invent the wheel when coming up with the set pieces. The work has already been done, just translate it to film. Its a pet peeve of mine when movie makers have a licensed property, and then don’t try to use the source material for the simple things.
This movie may become my new example of why I don’t like Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re not familiar with that website, they take a collection of reviews from widely read and respected sources, and show you the percentage of positive reviews. Anything over 60% is considered “fresh” and everything under that is “rotten.” Currently, this movie has a 26% rating. Looking just at that, you’d think the movie was terrible. Often times, I can see the justification in why a movie is as low as it is. I understood why Batman v Superman rated as lowly as it did. Don’t agree with it, but I understood. I don’t understand this one. That website also aggregates an audience score, and that score is sitting at 83% of people liking the movie. IMDB currently has the moving sitting at a 7.8/10 score. So please, don’t brush aside the movie based on the Rotten Tomatoes score.
Closing, I do encourage you to see this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan of the series. The lore behind the games is fairly enjoyable by itself. I really hope that this movie makes enough money to get a sequel, because I would love to see this world expanded. There is so much more source material to pull from. Sure, we can leave the pandas out. And maybe the Worgen. But gosh darnit, give me Undead and Tauren at some point.