Going to the Movies with Jeff & Drew: “Warcraft”
Duncan Jones’ video game adaptation is anything but fantastic.
The name Warcraft, alone, will have fantasy geeks grabbing their 20-sided dice and heading to the theater. But, you should be forewarned, nerds, this is no Lord of the Rings. It’s not even In the Name of the King.
In Warcraft, heroic warrior Anduin (Travis Fimmel), Mage Medivh (Ben Foster), fearless King Llane (Dominic Cooper) and kind Orc Durotan (Toby Kebbell) are well known to any gamer who has spent hours glaring at their PC, knee deep in Warcraft folklore. More casual moviegoers trying to dig through all that information may feel like their souls are being ripped through their faces, much like Shaung Tsung’s finishing move in Mortal Kombat or as Gul’dan the Orc Shaman Warlock does to his human prisoners in this movie.
Pulling most of its content straight from the series of video games, the movie tries to stitch together a great story. There is plenty of canon from which to source material, and this became the downfall of the movie. Gaming company Blizzard Entertainment goes down the same path many studios are going down by trying to develop a large film franchise but they forgot to make it into a good movie. So much of the stuff crammed into this movie feels so out of place and can, at times, be missed entirely, leaving viewers confused. I will give credit that they attempted to make a movie that will bring in new viewers who have never played the game by trying to show the world of Azeroth and the people who inhabit it. So much is introduced that doesn’t make sense within this movie.
Director Duncan Jones, who is David Bowie’s son, has directed two great lower-budget movies, Moon and Source Code, in the past. But no director, to date, has managed a good video-game adaptation. Having a fantastic setting and epic battles make a poor substitute for meaningful character development and a rich story. Those who forget Tomb Raider are doomed to repeat it.
The unevenness of the visuals is unsettling. The live action and the CGI look great on their own, but when put together, they don’t fit. The CGI characters lean more toward cartoons, which feels fake when put next to their human counterparts with jerky movements and textures that become rubbery. The film feels like a two-hour cut scene from the game. It’s trying to have one foot in each world and failing.
Blizzard is known for having great voice actors. Its foray into the film world has it finding great voice actors, not actors right for playing the part on the silver screen. The CGI characters had the best acting chops of the film. On-screen talent was subpar at best.
“I know a tiny bit of the Warcraft world, and this movie still had too much going on for me without enough explanation.” – Jeff
“I, on the other hand, know next to nothing of this world. I felt characters and plot points were moving by too fast for me to grasp who everyone is and why they need to complete their tasks.” – Drew
“Warcraft is only enjoyable because it is cohesive in its storytelling, even with glossing over what felt like integral plot points. It stayed the course, while leaving non-Warcraft players in its wake.” – Jeff
“I was lying in that wake for most of the movie. The only time I got out of it was when the many epic battle scenes erupted on screen, which is the only reason I could suggest seeing it on the big screen.” – Drew
Fans of the Warcraft game series will surely love this movie. Some other keen moviegoers will find it interesting. Most will be lost. When the series is complete, perhaps everything will make sense, but, for now, all we have is a confusing introduction into the World of Warcraft.
Stars:Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu
Score: 2 of 5