Blizzard real-time strategy fans were thrilled with Warcraft movie announcement a decade ago, but early reviews pointed towards a runaway hype train. The Duncan Jones directed film failed to meet critical expectations and received crushing reviews on review aggregation sites.
Fortunately, fans thought better of Warcraft, its story detailing the tale of the 1994 PC game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. While the plot is more or less remained the same, the visuals look a lot different than they did more than two decades ago. Industrial Light & Magic did a fantastic job of bringing Blizzard’s world to life. The movie doesn’t rely entirely on CG. Constructed sets, like Stormwind Keep’s throneroom, recreate familiar scenes from the dated games, but make them feel fresh.
While the graphics scream summer blockbuster, the casting was more conservative. It may not feature today’s A list, but the lore is still delivered well by the actors. Toby Kebbell, playing the orc Durotan, managed to particularly shine. His speeches felt natural, even through the CG orc façade. Fans of the series will recognize many faces including the orc Gul’dan, who makes an appearance in World of Warcraft’s most recent expansion. Like many of today’s adaptations, Warcraft was not immune to tossing in a few fan service shots. Jones clearly loves the series and the shout-outs should thrill fans of the lore without distracting the uninitiated.
Like many of today’s adaptations, Warcraft was not immune to tossing in a few fan service shots.
The movie manages to deliver Warcraft’s lore with blockbuster style, but it’s not without defects. Dialog is delivered well by the actors, but awkward pacing and melodrama make it feel like a SyFy movie with a big budget. More time is spent setting up sequels than progressing the franchise opening’s own plot. The film isn’t projected to smash any box offices locally, but global numbers assure that the Warcraft film series isn’t dead on arrival. Considering Jones’ past forays into film, including Moon and Source Code, it is easy to imagine this issue was caused by outside pressures.
“…awkward pacing and melodrama make it feel like a SyFy movie with a big budget.”
Warcraft isn’t perfect, but early critical reviews were too harsh. Percentages were close to summer blockbusters In the same vein as the Transformers franchise, but Warcraft is a much easier film to digest. Fortunately for Jones and crew, audience response has been more forgiving. Given that the film was forced to stand against very early critical flack, it is good to see the fans hold the movie in higher respect. The film has done well overseas, including overtaking Avengers: Age of Ultron as China’s highest grossing non-weekend opening.
Fans of Bilzzard’s world and high fantasy buffs shouldn’t hesitate to see Warcraft in theaters. The beautiful visuals bring the old story to life. Those casually interested may want to hold off for an on demand viewing.