Well isn’t that a surprise! The Warcraft movie doesn’t suck…
So before I get into the gritty part of the review, first a little about my history with the franchise. I played the hell out of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness on the PS1. A real time strategy game, I loved it and other than the steep difficulty curve it remains one of my favourite RTS games ever.
I never played Warcraft III but I did spend about 6 months in the wonderful world of World of Warcraft during its early years. I had a lot of fun there but I yearned for a more traditional Warcraft experience. One day I stopped playing, cancelled my subscription and have never touched it again.
Hearing that they were going to make a movie based on the franchise confused me…I mean it hardly seemed like the sort of games that could translate well into a movie. The trailer came out and really didn’t help…it looked cheap & way too ‘busy’.
Thankfully the end result is far better than I expected.
The home world of the Orcs is dying and one particular Orc called Gul’dan unites the clans into an army called the Horde. Using a form of magic called ‘fel’ he drains the life-force of captured prisoners and uses it to power a portal which leads to Azeroth. A small war party go through the portal with a plan to capture more prisoners and bring the rest of the Horde through.
Durotan, the chieftain of the Frostwolf clan and his mate, Draka are part of this party. He has his doubts about Gul’dan’s plan to take over Azeroth but wants to protect Draka who is pregnant.
In Azeroth the Orcs set about capturing what prisoners they can (humans) but soon run into resistance led by Lothar, a commander in the military of the Kingdom of Stormwind. Along with a mage, who he finds investigating the dead bodies, they travel to consult the Guardian of Tirisfal, Medivh.
The arrival of the Orcs has brought fel magic to the realm and Medivh is aware of that. Fel magic is what has destroyed the Orc home world and if Gul’dan isn’t stopped not only will he bring through the might of the horde to destroy the humans but he’ll use fel magic to bring about an end to the realm of Azeroth.
Ok, there is a lot more going on in Warcraft but unless you want a review that’s 10,000 words long that will have to do. Warcraft is a busy movie that really didn’t need as many sub-plots as it has. This is clearly the start of a movie franchise so they wanted to get as many threads going as possible. It does make it difficult to follow at times and you’ll have forgotten most names by the end. It’s not that the major characters are unforgettable, far from it.
Some, like Durotan and Medivh are fantastic to watch, well acted with great development throughout. Sure, Medivh’s story is a little predictable but it doesn’t make it any less exciting to see.
Thanks to the stellar CGI (really great stuff) the Orc characters are more life-like than many human characters. Durotan and Draka’s relationship is unsettling to watch just because of how real they are, how expressive they are. It takes some getting used too but really makes them stand out. Gul’dan as a bad guy is fantastic throughout, someone you want to see get his comeuppance especially during a final ‘clan challenge’ fight between him & Durotan.
The use of magic throughout is another high point of the movie, its amazing stuff that looks and feels powerful. The fel magic in particular is terrifying with its destructive and nasty use. Warcraft is a world of magic and here we see that put to great use.
Where the movie does fall down is with a so-so love story between Lothar and the half Orc, Garona. It doesn’t sit well, not feeling natural and her make-up makes her look a little silly.
That & the length, Warcraft is too long…as I said above it’s trying to jam a lot in and ends on a disappointing note (although the final battle is awesome) that is just pure sequel bait. There are many game references which came as something of a surprise. All the games within the franchise gets a nod but it won’t detract from your enjoyment even if you’ve not played a single one…it’s fan service, that’s all.
So there you go…Warcraft doesn’t suck, in fact it’s pretty damn good and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Warcraft The Movie