Warcraft review: Another terrible videogame movie

I want you to imagine the most stereotypical hipster you can. Don’t hold back, you don’t get a lot of chances to be so judgemental, so go wild.

You should now have an image of a frail lumberjack looking fellow who will not purchase anything that does not have the word “artisanal” written on it and insists that we “get back to our roots” and “stop supporting the ‘agenda'” while he buys another Apple product on his iPhone 6s® 64GB Rose Gold™.

Now imagine said hipster was in his favourite fair-trade coffee house one day, surfing the free WiFi on his MacBook Pro 2016 Edition© when he stumbles onto the exciting Warcraft universe. Titillated by the extensive lore and the bold fashion choices, he burns through an entire half-afternoon researching his new muse.

He then spends the following morning, before yoga and just after his juice cleanse, writing a screenplay for a new movie simply titled “Warcraft”. Then, amazingly, this script gets green-lit by a Hollywood producer and he’s free to hire an entire gaggle of (admittedly talented) CGI creators and a ton of character actors.

And, well… I think you should thank me because I just saved you the admission cost to see Warcraft in theatres.

That hipster, however, is a trio of writers in real life. While I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the mess of the story on offer here needed three writers, I really expected more from director and screenplay writer Duncan Jones. The last movie of his I saw was Source Code, a flawed sci-fi Groundhog Day-esque romp that was extremely enjoyable.

I have no idea if Jones or the other other screenplay writer, Charles Leavitt, sat down to play any of the original Warcraft games, or even World of Warcraft. While they have the names the character designs down, their examination of the world’s lore doesn’t feel that deep. This is all the more surprising as Chris Metzen, a long-time Blizzard employee and the man in charge of the entire world’s lore as well as its characters, was in charge of the movie’s story.

The cast suffers from a lack of heft. While I fully support giving smaller names the chance to shine, this movie desperately needed some heavy hitters in the acting department make the main characters feel more layered and less like shallow archetypes.

Instead we get discount Tom Hardy, Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar, the representative for the humans in the movie.  The script pulls every trick in the book to try and make this character likeable but it’s never enough. Joining him as the other important human is Ben Schnetzer as the young wizard Khadgar. Young is the operative word here, as his performance feels like the mage’s apprentice stole his book of spells and then decided to kick around the countryside performing card tricks.

As non-humans are Paula Patton and Toby Kebbell. Patton is a “non-human” in the movie in the same way Gamora is in Guardians of the Galaxy, i.e.: she’s just painted green. I’m still baffled as to her inclusion as a character in the story. Looking back now, very little in the movie would have changed if she had been omitted

Kebbell as the orc Durotan is the best of the lot, mainly due to the fact that he manages to make his character – a CGI mound of muscle and teeth – not only more interesting than the orcs he commands, but rather sympathetic.

Looking past the characters and story, the Warcraft aesthetic is actually pulled off excellently. While the Warcraft game I played was the third in the series – and I played it in my childhood – the film contains character models and locales that gave me a pleasing hit of nostalgia. Those still entrenched in the series will be pleased by it too. At one point, when a character pops up (whom I shall not name) its design alone was enough to illicit an audible squeal from me, so I must give them props for that.

I saw this movie in an IMAX theatre, which admittedly made the soundtrack ear-splittingly impressive. The opening scene wouldn’t have been anywhere near as impressive without a booming crowd of orcs chanting “For The Horde!”.

Warcraft, though, is still a mess of a movie; its sole saving grace is CGI and design, which ironically are assets that may put off any viewers who’ve never set foot on Azeroth.

If Blizzard intended this movie to breathe new life into the franchise and attract people to World of Warcraft, they failed. If they intended to make a movie for the fans, they missed the mark by writing legendary characters poorly. You’re probably better off not seeing this as a fan, and picking it up in a bargain bin in (I’m guessing) less than a year.

Verdict A glorified CGI-fest that happens to also have “Warcraft” written on it 30%

[Image – Adapted from Reddit]



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