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Warcraft

Review – Movie – Warcraft (2016)

I have to say, I was pretty excited to see the Warcraft movie.  I don’t currently play World of Warcraft but I got pretty deep into the game in recent years.  I played all of the original Warcraft games back in the day as well, especially Warcraft 2.  I also enjoy films such as The Lord of the Rings, which kind of felt like the same idea, a large sweeping epic.

Ultimately, I ended up really let down by this movie.  I’m not sure that it’s really a bad movie, it’s just not particularly amazing, despite the pretty impressive visuals.  The entire film, something just felt really off.  I worry a bit that my experience with the video game series was part of the reason for the sense of distraction I felt throughout the movie.  Warcraft isn’t a straight retelling of the Warcraft story, it’s simply, heavily influence by the lore.

It’s also important to know that the movie Warcraft is intended to be based more on the video game Warcraft, that old RTS game, and not World of Warcraft or the books.  This feels like it shouldn’t be notable, but it is, because World of Warcraft has expanded and mildly retconned things to make them work for it’s story.  It’s also worth pointing out because the original Warcraft didn’t exactly have an amazing, deep story.  Orcs come through the Dark Portal, Orca and Humans battle it out in a series of medieval battles.

All of the proper players are present on both sides, Gul’dan, Doomhammer, Blackhand, King Wrynn, Lothar, Medivh, Khadgar are all characters who would have had some hand in the events of this time period of the Lore.  The movie shows the Orcs baely leaving the area around the Dark Portal, though the game was a large war across several regions and Stormwind was eventually raided by Orcs.  I mostly wanted to mention this because the movie presents a really odd mix of set up for sequels while not quite explaining things that really could be important later in sequels.

The main set up element is Durotan’s Orc baby, who makes several appearances in the film though doesn’t do much, since he is a baby.  This baby orc, in the Lore will grow up to be Thrall, aka Green Jesus, who is the first leader and founder of the modern Horde.  The real missed opportunities though come from what feels like the complete omission of anything before the orcs enter the portal at the start of the movie.

I really feel like even a narrated montage of events leading up to why the Orcs are entering the portal would have really helped.  There isn’t any mention of Sargeras or the Burning Legion that I recall, though Fel Energy is a large part of the plot.  There also isn’t any mention of Grom Hellscream.  Grom isn’t part of the “First War” featured in this film, but he was the first Orc to be corrupted by the Blood of Mannoroth which lead to the downfall and corruption of the Orcs.  He later becomes friends with Thrall and in general is a very pivotal character in many later plot elements.  He is also the father of Garrosh Hellscream, though it would take a dozen movies to get to the events that make Garrosh Hellscream important.  Maybe the plan is to tell his story with flashbacks in a later film.

Like I said, the little things like this kept coming up as distractions, which may have tainted my enjoyment of the film, though there’s definitely more to it.  It’s easy to compare this movie to The Lord of the Rings, both are grand tales of high fantasy with a large following of fans.  Visually the effects, especially the orcs look great, but there’s also this odd factor where everything just feels extremely clean, TOO clean.  You never really get the feel for the grittiness of the war, it just feels, much like the original game, like an excuse to have some Orcs and Humans fight each other.

The other major problem is the schizoid all over the place plot.  This is also part of where a bit more fleshing out of the back story would have really helped a lot.  Giving us some better glimpses as to the corruption that seduced Gul’Dan and Medivh would have gone a long way to show the motivation behind these two.  A montage sequence at the opening of the power of Sargeras (effectively, the devil), and the Burning Legion, and their quest for power and how it led to the fall of the once peaceful and noble Orcs would have done a lot to make characters like Durotan and Garona, who question the actions of their people, more sympathetic.  Instead the movie just opens on a giant portal and Gul’dan sucking the life from a bunch of blue people to power said portal.  No real premise provided.

Ultimately, while I did find this film disappointing, I accept that the early Lore of the Warcraft universe is in fact, kind of bland.  There’s set up in this movie to eventually to run through Thrall’s story, which could easily have interweaving bits setting up the story of Arthas.  Both of these events are really good plot lines and would make incredible movies.  I just hope that the poor performance of this film doesn’t hurt the chances for sequels, because I’d love to see Thrall’s time as a gladiator and his eventual creation of the Horde on the big screen.  I’d definitely love to see the fall of Arthas as well, as his story is such a tragic tale that would work well as a movie.  While Warcraft kind of falls flat as a film, I’m holding out hope that things can get better in some sequels.  It’s just so bad this weak initial story pretty much has to be told first, since it’s the foundation of everything else