Against the backdrop of superheroes, lost fish, mutants, and ‘roided out Testudines, one film had me squeeing in my seat. It is a movie based off a franchise of a high fantasy game that has been growing in lore since 1994. The movie is Warcraft and it was bleeping amazing.
Everyone has been familiar or heard of the game of Warcraft. It has usually been referenced in a joke or in animated episodes. The game is an ever changing landscape of the fight for resources and magic. There are two main factions: Alliance (those whose loyalties lies with the King of Azeroth) versus the Horde (everyone else). What makes this game so interesting is that neither side is purely good or evil. Each side is passionate about their ideals and will fiercely protect what they love. Add in fantastical plots, magic,dragons, dwarves, zombies, elves, murlocs as you complete quests and dungeons, and you got yourself one heck of an immersive game world.
When news broke out about the movie, there were definite waves of doubt and dismissal. Very, very few game to movie adaptations are good or barely watchable. It can be done but hard to pull off. How could the movie people create a two hour story from decades of lore? Even worse, how could they get people completely unfamiliar to Warcraft to give the movie a chance?
Before I step further, I must mention that I do play Warcraft. I am a level 75 Warlock and I mainly complete quests and dungeons with friends. The game has been a great way to de-stress and be apart of a fantasy world. Since I have not seen a letter delivered by an owl nor has a luck dragon whisked me away, this is as close as I am going to get. I have had so many fun times playing Warcraft, even when I’ve pulled a Leroy Jenkins many times. Whether you are a serious player who has complicated strategies for taking down the boss, or you’re happy spending hours mining for resources, Warcraft is a game that has different connections to millions of people. Making a movie around this is a big deal.
I went in crossing my fingers that it was at least going to be entertaining. After the first scene though, my nerves were calmed. Everything was going to be all right
Many of the reviews on the the internet seem to be written by people who are not familiar with the game, or were not paying attention to anything at all. This was a not a movie purely based about humans versus orcs. It is not a good versus bad movie. This is a movie based off of the classic lore that precedes the World of Warcraft games. Those who are well versed in the classic lore would have been excited from the first moment.
For those like me who are only familiar with the World of Warcraft games, the story was still very easy to grasp. For those who have no idea what Warcraft , they will still be able to follow along. The story is a basic fight for survival and overcoming differences. It is not a difficult concept, only that tusked orcs are involved. This movie did a fantastic job of creating a story that gave enough exposition to explain but not too much that everyone was snoring. Plus, if anyone has grown up with Disney movies, then you can easily understand that any character with a green glow is evil.
The story of the movie begins on a desperate note. With the land dying around them and to ensure their survival, all of the orc tribes combine their forces to follow the powerful Gul’Dan (played by Daniel Wu). Gul’ Dan harnesses the life source power of slaved creatures to power the Great Gate. The Great Gate will then take them into a different land where they can survive. This land beyond the gates is Azeroth.
Taken by the surprise by news of the villages being attacked by a unknown force of massive proportions, the King Llane of Azeroth (played by Dominic Cooper) pulls in help from his most trusted protectors: the powerful Guardian Medivh (played by Ben Foster) and the Lion of Azeroth, Anduin Lothar (played by Travis Fimmel). As the King, mage, and warrior scramble to figure out how to save and protect their people, a young mage by the name of Khadgar begins to notice tiny details that everyone seems to be overlooking. A small detail of a green colored power, an unnatural power that seems to be taking root in the most alarming of places.
Minor details were changed from the classic lore to make it more adaptable to the movie but it still essentially holds the very essence of the Legends of Warcraft. For that is what I realized after watching the movie. All of these characters have been referenced numerous times in the games as being a part of history and such. It was completely mind -blowing when I started connecting it all together. Admittedly, I have been very lackadaisical in learning the history of the game. My mind was more focused on finishing quests and having fun with friends.
As far as story goes, it’s a great high fantasy one, whether or not one is familiar with the lore. What makes this movie even more special is that it doesn’t fall into a one dimensional character hole. Each character in the movie experiences growths, tragedy, failure, and redemption of some sort. Although the only character who doesn’t really change is the King. He just remains kind, powerful, and (mostly) observant right to the end. By the time the battles begin, your heart is torn is multiple directions as your rooting and cringing for both sides. Each side has much to lose and much to gain to protect their future. This makes the opening of the movie, a quiet scene between an Orc Chieftain and his pregnant wife, so meaningful and precious. Also, terribly exciting when you find out who that baby will grow up to be. Seriously, there will be a gazillion tabs open on your browser as you read through the Warcraft wikipedia on who these characters are in the game. As rich in story the cinematic version is, there is so much more that your mind will explode.
Given all that, you can’t have a Warcraft movie without battle scenes. This movie does not disappoint! There were so many instances of thumps, armor crushing, battle cries, bodies flying, sword slashing, hammer bashing, and limbs tearing that my right hand ached for a mouse to join in the battle using my Warlock abilities. Now before the purists cry foul, I know that Warlocks came in way later in Warcraft history but still. A couple of my spells and these battles would have been won for Azeroth!
The CGI was ridiculously amazing. So many details in design and subtle body changes. It was seamlessly gorgeous. It was just like watching the game cut scenes right onto the silver screen. There was no question about it, the movie was a Warcraft movie. The details in the background alone had my mind spinning as I recognized easter eggs of quests and favorite creatures.
Absolutely, absolutely recommend this movie. This is a refreshing change from the saturated cinematic landscape of sequels and epic superhero movies. It may inspire more players to the game or it may not. It is however a great movie for anything: with friends, dates, etc. I cannot disagree more with the critical reviews that I have seen written about this movie. I loved it. Hands down, loved it!
So light be with you and FOR THE ALLIANCE!!!