Warning: Some spoilers ahead!
I was even more excited when I found out that Duncan Jones (son of the great David Bowie – RIP) was directing this film. I loved Moon and Source Code and so I was interested to see how this would pan out. It’s rare I’ve been this excited for a movie – baring anything Marvel or Batman related of course.
Now, as a full disclaimer, I really enjoy the Warcraft series. And whilst I never played World of Warcraft past a few hours, I LOVED playing Warcraft 2 and played the hell outta Warcraft 3 and The Frozen Throne. I even collected the miniatures game and the World of Warcraft board game. So I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty invested in this series – even if I’m not a complete expert on the lore. And as I’ve always stated, I love Fantasy style games and the miniatures games were quite fun to collect.
So anyway, onto the film, which I saw yesterday. Now, it’s a well known fact that films based on video games have a… disappointing history to say the least. And nine times out of ten (or ten out of ten if it’s directed by Uwe Boll) any video game related film ends up being utter s***e! And it appears like Warcraft was no exception. It’s had scathing reviews (as of this email it has a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes) and lambasted almost to the new Ghostbuster film levels (well maybe not THAT bad). Indeed, when I left the cinema, the general view of the audience was that they didn’t enjoy it.
I, on the other hand, thought it was a decent film.
Ok, so let’s just get this straight – it doesn’t hold a candle to films like Lord of the Rings or Labyrinth – but I thought that this was a decent enough film that, for once, was respectful to the source material.
Just like the video games, Warcraft tells a story of invading Orcs that are coming over to the world of Azeroth, due to their own world being destroyed. Led by Gul’Dan (a dark sorcerer), various clans of Orcs join together to fight the humans. It’s up to King Llane, Auduin Lothar and mage-in-training Khadgar to try and repel the invasion. With the equally powerful Medivh on their side, they should stand a fighting chance. Maybe…
So as a stand-alone Fantasy film, the plot is extremely standard. But in terms of relevance to the video game, it keeps pretty true to the lore of Warcraft (from what I remember of it anyway), making just the odd change here and there. The problem I found was that the story felt a little disjointed at times. There didn’t seem to be any really flow between scenes. It was more like “We’re here – now we’re here. And now we are here.” It was kinda like they just took scenes and cut them together to make some semblance of a film – but it wasn’t too distracting I guess.
The problem with the plot I found, was the lack of humour – and this seems to be common with a lot of Fantasy films. They take themselves too seriously and try to be all drama all the time. What’s wrong with having a little fun? And considering Blizzard is known for its tongue-in-cheek feel in their games (keep clicking on a unit in any of the Warcraft games to hear little Easter Eggs and things like that) it would have been nice to have a little bit of humour now and then.
One of my biggest complaints about this film is the portrayal of the human characters. Honestly, they felt kinda bland to me. Even the main hero Auduin Lothar (played by Vikings actor Travis Fimmel) didn’t do anything for me – he was just your usual badass action hero. So when his son was killed by the Orc Cheftain Blackhand, I didn’t really care much for it.
The same cannot be said for the Orcs. I kinda felt like the film was their story in a way. I like it how they weren’t necessarily portrayed as the villains – and even fought amongst themselves. Durotan and his wife had some of the best stories – and I DID get a little tearful when their baby (possible nod to Thrall maybe?) was sent away. It was also kinda shocking how Durotan met his end – in fact the last 30 mins were the best of the film, they threw in a lot of dark twists and turns.
Praise also should be given to the special effects. They were really well done and, aside from some cheesy “eye light” effects, they seemed pretty good. And the fight scenes were incredible to behold. And unlike when Michael Bay does an action scene, this one doesn’t throw too much at once and lets you keep track of things.
Overall, I think Duncan Jones did a fantastic job with this – and the film certainly doesn’t deserve the hate it’s been getting. You can tell he was out of his comfort zone with this one in places, if you’ve seen his other films, but he did a remarkable job. He kept as close to the source material as he could, whilst still respecting it and – most importantly – the film does look like effort was put into it. Which is more than I can say for any film Uwe Boll has ever done!
On the whole, I’d say this is one of the best (if not THE best) adaptations of video games to film, as it tries to respect the source it was based on. If you’re an avid player of Warcraft, then you’ll probably balk at some of the character changes or such – but if you enjoy the Warcraft series, or just want a decent Fantasy film, then you’ll get some enjoyment out of this. It’s by no means the best Fantasy film ever made, but it’s an enjoyable film in its own way as long as you don’t mind the somewhat bland characters and disjointed story. I take my hat off to Duncan Jones – he did his best and we cannot ask anything more.
So in regards to the amount of negative reviews it’s had – you may have noticed I mentioned Uwe Boll a few times. He expressed an interest in directing this film. Let that sink in for a moment.
I do have one final complaint about this film – and it’s a HUGE complaint. No Leeroy Jenkins! That was the one bit I was most looking forward to – and it didn’t happen! What a rip!
That aside, I give Warcraft 3.5 out of 5 and proclaim it the best video game adaptation to date.
Side note: I also saw a trailer for the Assassin’s Creed movie. Early thoughts – it looks pretty good. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.