When Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures first announced their plans to make a full feature film based on the Blizzard game “World of Warcraft”, called simply Warcraft, I have to say I was concerned. As a long time player in the world of Azeroth, my greatest fear would be the ridicule of players and fans if the movie was terrible. Think of the Dungeons & Dragons films (which are all TERRIBLE) that make some dice tossers embarrassed to admit they play, but with bigger CGI effects.
The film opened yesterday overseas in China, netting an admirable $46 million box office return, setting the record for a mid-week non-weekend premiere. Hopefully, that’ll shut up some of the early critics who are calling Warcraft “this generation’s Battlefield Earth“, which REALLY isn’t applicable for this film as it didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out after five minutes.
Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) took the director’s chair for Legendary Pictures first film based on the large universe from Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and the result wasn’t half bad. Aside from a pretty well chosen cast of voice actors for larger than life CGI characters, the live action roles were filled admirably too. And yes I’m biased, Glenn Close’s cameo was fantastic.
Fans of WoW are going to have squee moments where they hit the arm of whomever is sitting next to them when certain locations are shown and mentioned. Ironforge, Stormwind, Elwynn Forest, the floating citadel of Dalaran, and even the great Gate the Orcs uses to invade Azeroth are familiar sites for players both Horde and Alliance alike.
Also, I give mad bonus points for the appearance of a single Merlock.
The costuming, while not COMPLETELY accurate in the absurd sizes of the Alliance’s pauldrons, stayed true to original game designs with a measure of practicality for the various full armored troops. I’m always happy with high fantasy costuming when it doesn’t look like you could go out to your local Joanns and recreate the Queen’s/King’s outfit in a weekend. That’s not saying some of you CAN’T, but more the garments looked well constructed and unique, obviously created just for that character in this film. I will say I wish the makeup on half-Orc Garona was less Orion Slave girl with large rice grains as teeth and more imaginative, but the desire to make her less alien and more ‘attractive’ to the humans probably drove the design. The Orcs were LARGE and primal, some of their weapons and armor bits larger than the horses, looking like playable ‘toons have suddenly come to life.
The score also must be mentioned, as the incredible Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim) captures the epic scope of the game while driving armies towards each other. The drums for the Horde alone are worthy of praise, especially when heard in a full IMAX theater experience with REALLY good audio.
My highest praise for the film goes to the magical effects. No, I don’t mean the entire thing looked ‘magical’, I mean the design and execution of the spells. They could have been super blocky and cartoony, and I was expecting them to be in all honesty. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how aesthetically pleasing and worldly appropriate each circle and power blast were.
Had the script not been bogged down with ’emotional’ scenes, I think the film in general would’ve flowed better. The action and basic character interactions are well written and the performers believable, and oddly enough the one emotional scene that really works is with the Orcs. I won’t go into details lest I spoil the film.
The film is absolutely FUN, and I truly believe fans of the Warcraft game will enjoy it despite the reviews that say otherwise. Remember that true FANS of something come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and sexes, including celebrities and their families. Like comedian icon Jamie Lee Curtis (lifelong geek/nerd for those who DON’T know) and her son who dressed up for the official premiere in Los Angeles.
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) June 7, 2016
SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10, 3D viewing
And if anything I said didn’t get you interested yet, check out this video from WIRED featuring the cast answering the most asked questions about the film:
Warcraft opens in theaters worldwide on Friday June 10th, 2016.