Warcraft (2016)

Warcraft was about as good as I expected it to be, not very. My reason for going was to see how the filmmakers were going to realize the game in a live action film. I’m a casual fan of World of Warcraft, so I didn’t have high expectations. Like anything that’s mostly CGI, after a while it gets tiresome, and the seams show, but for the most part Warcraft looked great.

Stormwind and Ironforge were grandiose. The filmmakers really captured the majesty of both. Same goes for Outland and the Dark Portal, which there isn’t a whole lot of, but what there is looks awesome. The magic was so cool, though like Outland and the Dark Portal, not much of it. Finally, the orcs were bad ass, especially their weapons and armor. The way characters look, as well as their weapons and armor, is a big deal in the game and it translated well into the movie.

I did not care, at all, about the human characters. Their development consisted of slapping them on the screen and… yeah. Here’s a person doing this. They say a line about themselves, character fully developed, move on to the next person.

It wasn’t just the human characters that were unappealing, but also the actors who played them. Because I’m only a casual player I’m not fully versed in all the character’s names so I got lost easily. Everyone in this movie looked the same to me, and I’m a white guy. I finally differentiated them by the size of their beard. There’s No Beard, the boy wizard who’ll become the bestest wizard evar. There’s Beard, the bestest wizard, and human villain (kind of), who’ll step aside at some point for No Beard. There’s King Beard, his beard is regular, but he stands out because he wears a crown. Finally there’s Crazy Beard, our human hero.

The orcs were slightly better developed. They’re introduced as warriors looking for conquest. In other words, their Klingons. Race development unlocked, move on. Durotan, the Orc hero, has a son which is born as soon as the orcs step through the Dark Portal. Shortly after starting the conquest of Azeroth Durotan realizes what they’re doing isn’t the honorable Klingon way and starts to doubt Gul’dan, the Orc villain (kind of). Nice, right? Durotan has motivation beyond stereotypical “orc smash”. Story done, on to special effects.

What would have been nice is to have some of the stuff that made the video game so much fun. I have always been of the mind that in a fantasy world—be it a game, comic, movie, whatever—show as much magic, monsters, and different races as possible. It’s the fantastic that’s most engaging. If I wanted everyday things I’d just live my life. Let me escape into a wondrous world.

I’ve read that the lack is due to the movie following the games’ progression, and originally it was orcs vs. humans. I’m not all that steeped in the game, nor interested enough by what was in the movie to do more research, so I’ll take the interwebs’ word for it. In other words, this is just the beginning. Warcraft is merely setting the scene. The cool stuff will start happening in future movies. Personally, I find this argument bullshit. If you’ve got good stuff, get to it. Don’t spend time being half-assed in order to set up cool shit later. Make it cool right off.

What Warcraft gives us is three magicians, a glimpse of a few of the other races, and puny humans getting a mud hole stomped in them by HULKING orcs (my choice of adjective there is precise—from the neck down the orcs look exactly like the Hulk). This is where the CGI really falls apart. There is such a disproportionate difference between the orcs and the humans that there is NO WAY that even the strongest humans could stand against the orcs. Thing is, the “heroes” Stormwind has to offer are armored Ralph Furleys. Fail!

Then, the love story. It is completely shoe horned in because “that’s what a Hollywood movie has, right?” It’s West Side Story but Maria is an orc. Crazy Beard, having never seen an orc, nor has any human for that matter, suddenly falls in love with half-breed Maria because… it’s in the script. Lazy. Fucking. Garbage.

Actually, I’m not being fair. In her defense, she speaks human, so I guess that’s grounds to fall in love with a “beast” that is ransacking the lands, looting, pillaging, and taking humans prisoner in order to fuel the Dark Portal. Yeah. Why not?

If you have never played World of Warcraft, Warcraft is not worth watching, even if it’s free. If you are a fan, eventually enough of Warcraft will be on YouTube that spending money, and more importantly, the 2 1/2 hours of your life, on it won’t be necessary.

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