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The Warcraft Movie: A Fan and Gamer’s Detailed Review

The Warcraft Movie: A Fan and Gamer’s Detailed Review

Fun, action-packed, lore heavy, epic, and a PG-13 rating well-earned

The much anticipated Warcraft movie opened in theaters nationwide on Friday June 10th. It came with a slew of reviews that span the entire spectrum from a 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating, to a 4.2/5 “Audience Score” from the same site. The contrasted reviews come from both newcomers to the Warcraft universe and long-time fans alike. Although the movie’s script covers an enormous amount of material and lore to help set up the storyline for those who don’t know the difference between Arcane and Fel magic, perhaps too much, the movie also has a juicy amount of easter eggs, throwbacks, and hidden gems for fans of the Warcraft games franchise. If you can enter the movie without many preconceived notions on what you think the movie “should be,” one can truly enjoy seeing so many familiar sights, sounds, places, spells, characters, and storylines, etc. on the big screen. It truly was a fun experience.

The Warcraft Movie: A Fan and Gamer’s Detailed Review

Fun, action-packed, lore heavy, epic, and a PG-13 rating well-earned

The much anticipated Warcraft movie opened in theaters nationwide on Friday June 10th. It came with a slew of reviews that span the entire spectrum from a 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating, to a 4.2/5 “Audience Score” from the same site. The contrasted reviews come from both newcomers to the Warcraft universe and long-time fans alike. Although the movie’s script covers an enormous amount of material and lore to help set up the storyline for those who don’t know the difference between Arcane and Fel magic, perhaps too much, the movie also has a juicy amount of easter eggs, throwbacks, and hidden gems for fans of the Warcraft games franchise. If you can enter the movie without many preconceived notions on what you think the movie “should be,” one can truly enjoy seeing so many familiar sights, sounds, places, spells, characters, and storylines, etc. on the big screen. It truly was a fun experience.

The Adaptation – For Those Who Know and Love All Things Warcraft

The key to this movie is to go in with an open mind and don’t forget that it’s an adaptation. It’s not a representation, it’s not the original game directly translated to the big screen. An adaptation must take the overall essence and make changes where necessary for film. Anytime you transfer a story from one medium to another, especially a book, game, or short story, and turn it into a screenplay, it must be “translated” essentially, for film. One of the best examples of this I’ve ever heard is taken from The Lord of the Rings. As most people know, there were many changes made to that storyline from the books to the film adaptations. In the books, there’s a tender moment in The Fellowship of the Ring (the book) where the fellowship is departing from Lothlórien and they all receive gifts from the Lady Galadriel. When it is Gimli’s turn, he shyly requests one golden strand of her hair. She ends up granting him three. Now, in the books this is a tender moment, one with significance in more ways than just a simple gift. It represents a gift of goodwill, the alliance of two races, etc. However, imagine showing that exact scene on film. How awkward would it look to have Kate Blanchett, who plays Galadriel in the film series, pluck hairs from her head and then give them to Gimli. It would not translate. Although the story didn’t change too significantly it is a great example of how some moments just don’t transfer directly from page to screen.

With the adaptation argument out of the way, hardcore fans of the Warcraft franchise were disappointed in some of the lore changes. As I mentioned, going into the film with a clean slate and just ready to enjoy the Warcraft universe many of us know and love being shown on a huge screen with live action will prove to be an enjoyable experience. One must remember that “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans,” the original PC game, was released in 1994. At that time, the writing was intended for an RTS, real-time strategy, audience who could learn the history, lore, etc. over the course of roughly 10+ hours of gameplay time, 12 scenarios to play as both the Horde and the Alliance. (For fun, check out the original intro video for the first Warcraft game, https://youtu.be/Zv0km09olBc)

The Movie – For the “Noob” to All Things Warcraft

The screenplay does have some issues, yes, but if you take the movie for what it is, and don’t go in with perfect expectations, you will enjoy the movie for what it is. It’s a big screen experience of a gaming series that many know and love. The action sequences, fight scenes, etc. are very well done and do a great job of drawing you into that heroic feeling that the game series is so good at creating. If you’ve never played a minute of a Warcraft game of any kind, then you will have a lot of lore to soak in through the course of the movie, but can still enjoy an epic fantasy about the struggle for power, tenuous alliances, betrayal, good vs evil, and love. The themes beneath the lore and magic are not too different from many fantasy epics you may have seen, however the presentation is not too cliche and offers a fresh take on a “humans vs orcs” type of story.

The Graphics

    Some reviews from the media have complained of subpar, or “cheesy” CGI, but I saw the film in 3D and was incredibly impressed by the CGI. If you look at one of the screenshots on this page that show the Orc Durotan’s face close up, it looks incredibly real. The CGI complaints that many refer to are surrounding the magic in the film. However, I think this is a case where it pays more homage to the game franchise’s  representation of spells and magic, then what many may be used to in fantasy films today.

The Story – Basic Synopsis (SPOILER ALERT)

The storyline in the film, similar to the game, is about the race of the Orcs seeking a new homeworld after they conquered and consumed theirs, Draenor, for the sake of the Fel magic. Fel magic is a dark and powerful magic that uses life itself as fuel for its monstrous power. It corrupts any who are exposed to it. According to lore not directly mentioned in the film, an evil “titan” named Sargeras, uses the fel magic and corrupts Medivh, the guardian of Azeroth (the realm that the Humans preside in), and manipulates him to partner with an Orc warlock named Guldan, to open “The Dark Portal” to connect the realms of Draenor and Azeroth, so the Orc Horde can conquer the new realm and claim a new homeworld.

An Orc warchief, Durotan of the Frostwolf clan, begins to doubt that the Fel magic and power of the Horde’s leader, Guldan, can help them without completely and consuming them first, just as it consumed their homeworld of Draenor. After a band of Orc warriors passes through the Dark Portal that is temporarily opened, Durotan decides to partner with the Humans and a half-orc named Garona,in an attempt to gain peace and overthrow Guldan to stop his Fel magic from destroying this world as well. He partners with the Human commander, Anduin Lothar. While this is happening, a separate but connected storyline is playing out between Guldan, and two mages in Azeroth, the guardian Medivh, and the young mage Khadgar. Khadgar, a runaway pupil of the Kirin Tor, who, for lack of a better explanation are an elite group and school of mages, begins to notice that the guardian is not himself and there is more than meets the eye. The film’s conclusion, which I won’t give away ends with a final clash of all the storylines and characters.

The Soundtrack

For those unfamiliar with any Warcraft soundtracks, it is a well composed and pounding soundtrack with melodies and driving rhythms to generate emotion and visions of war, magic, peace, love, and the epic scale of the clash between Orcs, Humans, and magic. For those more familiar with the game franchise you’ll be delighted with teases and throwbacks  from multiple soundtracks from the games. You’ll hear the Stormwind intro theme multiple times as a part of the music surrounding the Humans. During a short pass through Elwynn Forest you can hear essences of the theme from the World of Warcraft soundtrack. The themes of the Orcs are very reminiscent of the war drum pounding themes from all of the games. Overall, an epic soundtrack beautifully composed by Ramin Djawadi that doesn’t mimic the game franchises’ soundtracks but pays proper homage.

Conclusion

The movie will delight you if you go in with an open mind, just expecting a fantasy epic that has a large amount of lore to simply “accept” if you are unacquainted with it. If you plan on seeing the movie with a chin held high and an elitist mindset for cinematic Academy Award screenplay material, then you will surely be disappointed. The critic rating across the media being incredibly low, but the audience scores being much higher is the perfect example of this. Take the film for what it is and enjoy it. For the fans of the game, just enjoy geeking out and reliving quests, storylines, sights and sounds from your childhood, or earlier years. For the unacquainted, go with someone who’s at least a little familiar with the storyline and you can probably keep up a little better with the lore. If you don’t have that person, I absolutely believe you can still enjoy the movie.

PG-13 (for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence)

    The movie definitely earns its rating on the violence side. While not overly gory to the point of needing an “R” rating, there are a few cringe worthy moments. Parents wary of their children being exposed to more graphic violence of close up war, may want to see it first or ask others about it’s child appropriateness. One example is during the final clash of Humans and Orcs, where an Orc warrior grabs a human by the head and literally crushes his head in his massive fist with the camera never shying away. Although this level of graphic violence is not constant through the film, there are definitely more than one of these moments. Children who are frightened by the more demonic magic effects should be wary as well. The Orc warlock, Guldan constantly drains the lifeforce from innocent creatures and you watch humans, animals, Orcs, etc. be drained of their life and wither away, reminiscent of the Dementors in Harry Potter. There is no overt language or sexual situations to be way of. Violence and magical sequences are the primary rating concerns in the film.

Reviewed By “FiveMinuteMajor”

(Film seen in Digital 3D, Non-IMAX)

BONUS – The Easter Eggs

There are many, but I will name the few that I saw. If you found more, in traditional WoW fashion, post them in the comments section at the rough location where you saw them.

In the opening credits sequence, during the Blizzard logo, multiple Blizzard characters can be seen encased in the ice of the Blizzard letters, such as Kerrigan, Arthas, and Tracer, from Overwatch.

During the sequence when the Humans are traveling through the forest scouting out the mystery of their attackers, one can see a Murloc in the river for a brief moment and hear his classic Murloc gurgle roar. In that same sequence, there is a split second where in the background you can very clearly see a “Meeting Stone” for a dungeon. Stormwind itself was very accurately rendered with the different colors of rooftops in the varying districts as well as the flight master’s location being accurate.

You can even spot the classic mailbox on the streets of Stormwind.

Many of the iconic weapons in the film are accurate to their counterparts in the game.

Lothar is freed from prison by Khadgar after he “polymorphs” the prison guard into a sheep. He even states the spell’s stats when he mentions it only lasts about a minute and only works on the “simple minded.” When Khadgar has his victory over Medivh, he is enveloped in a golden light all around him, look familiar? DING! Lastly, during the end credits, the music from the original WoW login screen plays.

The Adaptation – For Those Who Know and Love All Things Warcraft

The key to this movie is to go in with an open mind and don’t forget that it’s an adaptation. It’s not a representation, it’s not the original game directly translated to the big screen. An adaptation must take the overall essence and make changes where necessary for film. Anytime you transfer a story from one medium to another, especially a book, game, or short story, and turn it into a screenplay, it must be “translated” essentially, for film. One of the best examples of this I’ve ever heard is taken from The Lord of the Rings. As most people know, there were many changes made to that storyline from the books to the film adaptations. In the books, there’s a tender moment in The Fellowship of the Ring (the book) where the fellowship is departing from Lothlórien and they all receive gifts from the Lady Galadriel. When it is Gimli’s turn, he shyly requests one golden strand of her hair. She ends up granting him three. Now, in the books this is a tender moment, one with significance in more ways than just a simple gift. It represents a gift of goodwill, the alliance of two races, etc. However, imagine showing that exact scene on film. How awkward would it look to have Kate Blanchett, who plays Galadriel in the film series, pluck hairs from her head and then give them to Gimli. It would not translate. Although the story didn’t change too significantly it is a great example of how some moments just don’t transfer directly from page to screen.

With the adaptation argument out of the way, hardcore fans of the Warcraft franchise were disappointed in some of the lore changes. As I mentioned, going into the film with a clean slate and just ready to enjoy the Warcraft universe many of us know and love being shown on a huge screen with live action will prove to be an enjoyable experience. One must remember that “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans,” the original PC game, was released in 1994. At that time, the writing was intended for an RTS, real-time strategy, audience who could learn the history, lore, etc. over the course of roughly 10+ hours of gameplay time, 12 scenarios to play as both the Horde and the Alliance. (For fun, check out the original intro video for the first Warcraft game, https://youtu.be/Zv0km09olBc)

The Movie – For the “Noob” to All Things Warcraft

The screenplay does have some issues, yes, but if you take the movie for what it is, and don’t go in with perfect expectations, you will enjoy the movie for what it is. It’s a big screen experience of a gaming series that many know and love. The action sequences, fight scenes, etc. are very well done and do a great job of drawing you into that heroic feeling that the game series is so good at creating. If you’ve never played a minute of a Warcraft game of any kind, then you will have a lot of lore to soak in through the course of the movie, but can still enjoy an epic fantasy about the struggle for power, tenuous alliances, betrayal, good vs evil, and love. The themes beneath the lore and magic are not too different from many fantasy epics you may have seen, however the presentation is not too cliche and offers a fresh take on a “humans vs orcs” type of story.

The Graphics

    Some reviews from the media have complained of subpar, or “cheesy” CGI, but I saw the film in 3D and was incredibly impressed by the CGI. If you look at one of the screenshots on this page that show the Orc Durotan’s face close up, it looks incredibly real. The CGI complaints that many refer to are surrounding the magic in the film. However, I think this is a case where it pays more homage to the game franchise’s  representation of spells and magic, then what many may be used to in fantasy films today.

The Story – Basic Synopsis (SPOILER ALERT)

The storyline in the film, similar to the game, is about the race of the Orcs seeking a new homeworld after they conquered and consumed theirs, Draenor, for the sake of the Fel magic. Fel magic is a dark and powerful magic that uses life itself as fuel for its monstrous power. It corrupts any who are exposed to it. According to lore not directly mentioned in the film, an evil “titan” named Sargeras, uses the fel magic and corrupts Medivh, the guardian of Azeroth (the realm that the Humans preside in), and manipulates him to partner with an Orc warlock named Guldan, to open “The Dark Portal” to connect the realms of Draenor and Azeroth, so the Orc Horde can conquer the new realm and claim a new homeworld.

An Orc warchief, Durotan of the Frostwolf clan, begins to doubt that the Fel magic and power of the Horde’s leader, Guldan, can help them without completely and consuming them first, just as it consumed their homeworld of Draenor. After a band of Orc warriors passes through the Dark Portal that is temporarily opened, Durotan decides to partner with the Humans and a half-orc named Garona,in an attempt to gain peace and overthrow Guldan to stop his Fel magic from destroying this world as well. He partners with the Human commander, Anduin Lothar. While this is happening, a separate but connected storyline is playing out between Guldan, and two mages in Azeroth, the guardian Medivh, and the young mage Khadgar. Khadgar, a runaway pupil of the Kirin Tor, who, for lack of a better explanation are an elite group and school of mages, begins to notice that the guardian is not himself and there is more than meets the eye. The film’s conclusion, which I won’t give away ends with a final clash of all the storylines and characters.

The Soundtrack

For those unfamiliar with any Warcraft soundtracks, it is a well composed and pounding soundtrack with melodies and driving rhythms to generate emotion and visions of war, magic, peace, love, and the epic scale of the clash between Orcs, Humans, and magic. For those more familiar with the game franchise you’ll be delighted with teases and throwbacks  from multiple soundtracks from the games. You’ll hear the Stormwind intro theme multiple times as a part of the music surrounding the Humans. During a short pass through Elwynn Forest you can hear essences of the theme from the World of Warcraft soundtrack. The themes of the Orcs are very reminiscent of the war drum pounding themes from all of the games. Overall, an epic soundtrack beautifully composed by Ramin Djawadi that doesn’t mimic the game franchises’ soundtracks but pays proper homage.

Conclusion

The movie will delight you if you go in with an open mind, just expecting a fantasy epic that has a large amount of lore to simply “accept” if you are unacquainted with it. If you plan on seeing the movie with a chin held high and an elitist mindset for cinematic Academy Award screenplay material, then you will surely be disappointed. The critic rating across the media being incredibly low, but the audience scores being much higher is the perfect example of this. Take the film for what it is and enjoy it. For the fans of the game, just enjoy geeking out and reliving quests, storylines, sights and sounds from your childhood, or earlier years. For the unacquainted, go with someone who’s at least a little familiar with the storyline and you can probably keep up a little better with the lore. If you don’t have that person, I absolutely believe you can still enjoy the movie.

PG-13 (for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence)

    The movie definitely earns its rating on the violence side. While not overly gory to the point of needing an “R” rating, there are a few cringe worthy moments. Parents wary of their children being exposed to more graphic violence of close up war, may want to see it first or ask others about it’s child appropriateness. One example is during the final clash of Humans and Orcs, where an Orc warrior grabs a human by the head and literally crushes his head in his massive fist with the camera never shying away. Although this level of graphic violence is not constant through the film, there are definitely more than one of these moments. Children who are frightened by the more demonic magic effects should be wary as well. The Orc warlock, Guldan constantly drains the lifeforce from innocent creatures and you watch humans, animals, Orcs, etc. be drained of their life and wither away, reminiscent of the Dementors in Harry Potter. There is no overt language or sexual situations to be way of. Violence and magical sequences are the primary rating concerns in the film.

Reviewed By “FiveMinuteMajor”

(Film seen in Digital 3D, Non-IMAX)

BONUS – The Easter Eggs

There are many, but I will name the few that I saw. If you found more, in traditional WoW fashion, post them in the comments section at the rough location where you saw them.

In the opening credits sequence, during the Blizzard logo, multiple Blizzard characters can be seen encased in the ice of the Blizzard letters, such as Kerrigan, Arthas, and Tracer, from Overwatch.

During the sequence when the Humans are traveling through the forest scouting out the mystery of their attackers, one can see a Murloc in the river for a brief moment and hear his classic Murloc gurgle roar. In that same sequence, there is a split second where in the background you can very clearly see a “Meeting Stone” for a dungeon. Stormwind itself was very accurately rendered with the different colors of rooftops in the varying districts as well as the flight master’s location being accurate.

You can even spot the classic mailbox on the streets of Stormwind.

Many of the iconic weapons in the film are accurate to their counterparts in the game.

Lothar is freed from prison by Khadgar after he “polymorphs” the prison guard into a sheep. He even states the spell’s stats when he mentions it only lasts about a minute and only works on the “simple minded.” When Khadgar has his victory over Medivh, he is enveloped in a golden light all around him, look familiar? DING! Lastly, during the end credits, the music from the original WoW login screen plays.


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Additional Images:




Warcraft [Blu-ray]


Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell
Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

List Price: $22.98 USD
New From: $9.90 USD In Stock
Used from: $6.99 USD In Stock

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