Warcraft The Movie


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    As a preface, I've been playing WoW on and off since beta, so I'm pretty well-versed with the setting, but the Warcraft movie takes place essentially during Warcraft 1, so I was pretty rusty on my lore other than recognizing a few names. The point is, I'm not filling in blanks in the story with my own knowledge.

    Spoilers: All of it.

    Overall Impressions

    Man, what a unique mess. Warcraft isn't a bad movie. It's also not a good one. I really wanted to nail down what didn't work in the movie, cause there were parts that were undoubtedly awesome. Duncan Jones, the director, has made two movies prior to this: Moon, and Source Code. Source Code is pretty good, but Moon is a masterpiece. Both movies are smaller, more personal stories with unique sci-fi elements to show you something about the human condition. Instead of using a sci-fi (or magic) element to do that in Warcraft, he uses the Orcs to show us what it means to be human. The movie's stubborn refusal to make the orcs the "bad guys" is the best thing about it. The CG is also so good that I think I preferred the orc acting to the human acting, but we'll get to that in a minute. Warcraft had a lot of very good ideas in it, but either didn't have the time, or maybe too many cooks involved to get it right.

    The movie also has a very interesting depiction of magic, which isn't necessarily different from the games, but it's decidedly utilitarian. It takes time to cast spells, and big ones take even more time and aren't necessarily going to go right, even for an old master. I really liked how magic was treated, and only wish there had been a few more mages as part of the army. I think you could make a case that then there should've been orc shamans doing stuff too, and it would've escalated from there, so keeping it simple was likely the right call.

    Orcs

    Durotan's story and character are much better than Lothar, the human hero. Durotan's torn between doing what he thinks is right and risking the survival of his clan. The reality is that whatever the cause, his old planet is dying, he has to go with Gul'dan through the portal. The trip through the portal is actually one of the coolest scenes in the movie. Draka, Durotan's pregnant wife/mate/whatever goes with them through the portal and the process is hard on her and she gives birth to a very weak (dead?) baby. Gul'dan sucks the soul out of a nearby deer and brings him back to good health (life?). Gul'dan, while ostensibly the main villian of the movie is probably not unlike Medivh, someone who was once a good leader, corrupted by the fel magic. We as viewers may realize that this baby is in fact, Thrall, the main hero of WoW, and a principle enemy of Gul'dan. It would've been so easy to have Gul'dan say something like "You should've obeyed orders and not come through" and it look like the baby would die, then through love or some shit, the baby survives. I think 99% of directors would've played this scene like that, and the way it was done was vastly superior. There's a lot of little moments like this, where the movie could've been cliched and boring, and it just isn't.

    Casting

    Oh man, whoever did the casting for this movie needs a good swift kick in the privates.

    Lothar is the commander of the army. He's also the Queen's brother, so it's probable he had at least noble upbringing, and he looks like he just stepped off a pirate ship and put on some armor. I like that actor a lot, but he just didn't fit the character of Lothar at all. He's also too young. I realize he's supposed to be the hunky protagonist, but he has a 20ish yr old son, and he's the commander of the army. He looks maybe 35, 40 if you push it, but he should really be 50.

    King Lane: I don't know if you guys have watched the new show on AMC, Preacher, but you should. King Lane and Queen Lane are both in it. It's super weird to have them as a couple in both things, both airing at basically the same time. Anyway, while I like Dominic Cooper a lot, he's about as kingly as my butt. He does not come off as regal, or a fighter that commands respect like Lothar.

    Garona: I guess the casting is fine, but I did not like how Paula Patton played her at all. She was way too vulnerable and reluctant about everything. She looked like she was saying "I'm sorry!" at all times during the second half of the movie. I realize that's what she was going for, I just don't think that's how it should've come off. She should've been resolved in her fate and determined to do what she can with what she's got, instead she just seems like a damsel.

    Khadgar: In the sense of the movie, Kadghar was fine, but he is an absolute badass in WoW, so it would've been nice to get a hint of what's to come. I don't really see the guy in the movie ever turning into the guy in WoW.

    Medivh: Holy shit. Best for last. When I originally heard that Ben Foster was playing a wizened old wizard, I was super worried. However, Ben Foster is a fantastic actor, so he made it his own. He always seems like he's thinking of something else at all times, and interacting with the other people out of necessity, which when you think about it, is true. I think he should've tried to take his own life or something once he realized what he'd done, and then weakened, the demon overtakes him, instead of it just happening, but whatever, small quibbles.

    Story Beats

    • Orc home planet is dying (probably because of Gul'dan), so they send raiding party to Azeroth to kidnap some people so their souls can fuel the gate for the rest to come through. This is great. I get why good people would get caught up in this invasion, everyone is just trying to survive, great.
    • Baby Wizard Khadgar finds some Fel, knows it's bad stuff and we go get Medivh. This whole section is super expository, but we also need the exposition, so it's hard to get too mad it it. Would've liked a little more history between Lothar and Medivh weaved in here. Clearly they have had adventures together, but they don't even so much as give it a "remember that thing with the dragon?"
    • Human heroes fight Orc heroes, Garona gets captured, Medivh find some fel magic, believes baby wizard. This battle was pretty rad, we get to see Lothar effortlessly end a bunch of orcs, some magic stuff, and it moves the plot forward in two different ways: Garona, and Medivh fell stuff.
    • Garona explains everything to humans. This part really got me. So is she a traitor or what? She certainly told the humans every single question they asked, but the whole time is acting like she's an orc and she's the enemy. Her actions and demeanor do not match at all.
    • We go see the gate, meet Durotan, set a meet. This part sucks, it's just there to move pieces around the board.
    • Durotan and humans meet, get betrayed, Lothar's kid dies after Medivh's lightning wall fucks up and locks him on the orc side. I don't get why Durotan didn't sneak away and do this meet alone. He's betraying the entire horde doing this, bringing along his clan makes it a clan action, and all of them liable for retribution (as we see). If he'd done it on his own, then he alone would get the retribution. I wish he'd at least tried to go alone, and his men had refused to let him go into harm's way alone or something. He get's betrayed by his buddy (I'm seeing his name is Ogrim from IMDB now, but fuck if I could get that from the movie), but we never really see the loyalty, or really even anyone else in his clan, so the betrayal comes off a little wrong. The whole thing with Medivh doing the lightening wall, but being off his game and getting a few soldiers trapped on the wrong side is great.
    • Garona and Medivh chat about her parentage. Medivh is her dad, right? How did she not pick up on that? Why is this in the movie? If he is her dad, which is heavily implied, and since it's a fucking movie, implied means fact, then why didn't they do anything with it?
    • Baby Wizard knows something's up, heads to Dalaran to talk with the Kirin Tor. So Dalaran and the Kirin Tor are all up in WoW, so I knew who they were, but man did they not earn their place in the movie. You're like, who? A bunch of wizards in a council? Why were they not helping? Who are these guys? What's that cube? Why is Glenn Close (!!!!) in it? What happened after we cut away? This whole sequence is just garbage, and I'm not convinced it needed to be in the movie.
    • Lothar and Garona bang. I get why they have sex. He's a badass and she respects fighters, and while green, Garona is super hot, and Lothar just lost his kid and is likely looking for some respite from grief. However, after that they're super in love, and they just haven't earned that at all.
    • Humans argue about what to do. Another garbage scene. The king ignores Lothar's warnings about Medivh because he's stricken with grief, even though what he's saying makes sense. However, Lothar really doesn't have enough information to think Medivh is bad yet. Medivh easily could've just screwed up the spell and Lothar's son was a casualty. It's war, shit happens. Why assume Medivh is evil? Just cause he burned baby wizard's pages? Then they march off to war without their commander. Idiots.
    • Durotan, in a final effort to show that Gul'dan is bad, challenges him to a fight. This scene is probably the most important in making the orcs into real people instead of just LOTR-goblin bad guys. The orcs demand that Gul'dan answer the challenge, and when he cheats, they are pissed. Gul'dan transitions into tyrant instead of secret bad guy. If we get a second movie, it'll be interesting to see this dynamic evolve and if the Horde splits over this. RIP Durotan.
    • Idiot Humans & Garona head to gate and accomplish nothing, Lane asked Garona to murder him to help her survive and work with the orcs on the inside. Man, I get that you needed a final battle, except that we, the viewers, know that none of it matters. Why did Medivh send them there? What if they'd actually gotten through and killed Gul'dan? Why do they think Durotan has any chance of killing Gul'dan? They know the main horde knows of his betrayal, so by logic, he really should be dead or at least in a cell. Instead they march into certain death to save a few hundred humans. The whole Garona killing Lane thing is an interesting idea, but even when it's happening you're like "fuck, they're setting up another movie right now."
    • Khadgar & Lothar vs. Medivh. This is great, up until Khadgar just magics the fel out of Medivh with no explanation. Did Glenn Close in the cube give him something to help? Maybe it's a deleted scene, but something to explain why he as a demonstrably worse wizard than Medivh can do that was really required.
    • Lothar flies down, fucks up Blackhand and rides off with King's body. Man, I get that Lothar's supposed to be a badass warrior, but he doesn't try, ever. He just wins. Even the final showdown thing against the guy who killed his kid, he just Jason Bournes him down in a split second. We get no explanation as to why he's like 10x the fighter anyone else is either. It's cool, especially against orc grunts, but his end fight could've used a little effort.
    • Movie ends with almost no resolution. I mean, bummer. Durotan and his wife are dead. Lothar's kid is dead. King is dead. Medivh is dead. Gul'dan is alive (and still is in WoW), so Garona isn't just going to shiv him the first chance she gets (although that's exactly what she should do). Lothar and Garona don't get to have light-green babies. Khadgar I guess is the guardian now, but they don't really talk about it, and we don't know what that means anyway. I really wish something had happened. We're basically back where we started with a few less likeable characters.

    Summary

    Warcraft is a hot mess. I still liked watching it, and will probably see a sequel if it gets one.



  • A lot of great valid points there. Here's my take on the movie.

    Prefacing this with the information that I played Warcraft 1/2/3 and WoW in Vanilla through Wrath of the Lich King. I read a few of the books as well, so that's my reference points. I liked the movie solely for the orc parts, I thought the CGI was really impressive since it looked just like the CG orcs from WC3 and vanilla WoW! Every time they struck a hammer it looked really good. Seeing the familiar locations was great fanservice, even though Dalaran was unnecessary and nonsensical. But the story is not good, and the editing is terrible, I know the lore and I was still confused by some of the events in the movie. So I agree that the foundations of the film are whacky from the start.

    Particularly bad was the CGI where the orcs were not involved. I get Warcraft is more cartoony than Lord of the Rings, but the humans looked like cosplayers. The weapons showcased in the film looked like late WOTLK raid tier gear and not like the very basic weapons that the humans had in Warcraft 1 which is sort of a cardinal sin in terms of lore development. They made Medivh into a boring token mage and Anduin Lothar (ANDUIN LOTHAR, THE GREATEST BADASS IN EASTERN KINGDOM'S HISTORY) a quirky half-serious trite character. The romance was forced and Thrall was completely unnecessary considering they could have established the Orcs' journey better. Don't even believe people who don't know about the orcs escaping Draenor understood what happened.

    In the end there wasn't a lot that happened really, which is a shame.



  • The Orc storyline was superior in both plot line and CGI. As you said, the casting was fairly awful on the human side (especially Lothar but Medivh just looked bored) and some of the magic scenes were just TERRIBLE. Especially the demon scene at the end with Medivh felt like an earlier episode of Doctor Who or a fan film.

    @Hoken brought up the hammer blows. Those were just brutal!!! Loved that :)

    But as you said in the end, I do not regret seeing this in the theater .. and I will most likely see the sequel if they make one. Although I would much rather see an anime or CGI movie in the Overwatch universe :D

    And thanks for reminding me of Too Many Cooks. Now I'll have it stuck in my head for the next week or so XD



  • I think the only thing that thoroughly disappointed me was that it wasn't the Warcraft movie the fans wanted. If the Warcraft 3 movie is going to hold on to this kind of quality I don't believe I want to see it at all because unlike Warcraft 1 it actually has an amazing story that has to be done absolutely right.

    Don't let the people in charge of casting Anduin and Medivh cast Arthas...



  • Would a person who has never played a Warcraft game but is a film student enjoy this film? I'm leaning towards no?


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    @ObbyDent No, go watch Moon instead. Much better film by the same director. I mean, you're not gonna hate it, but it's not like the film-making going on here is revolutionary either.



  • @UltimateBrent Trust me, already seen his others films. :P



  • It's a hot mess for sure, but a very entertaining one for someone who has played WC and WoW. I had no issues with lore changes because Blizzard certainly does not have any issues at all with changing up lore in WoW, going by the recent massive changes and additions in the Chronicles Part 1 book they put out. The story of WC and WoW is extremely convoluted because of the change from RTS, to a massive MMORPG. So I totally 100% agree with the movies cutting the fat out to make it more lean because.. well, they're movies. We'll only get on every what, 3-5 years apparently.

    A lot of stuff can also probably be attributed to the budget simply running out, so they couldn't finish more CGI heavy scenes, not to mention Legendary apparently wanting Duncan Jones to edit out over 30 minutes of footage of the movie that could potentionally be extremely crucial to character development.

    All in all, I liked it, the armour and stuff was cute. Fairly true to the aesthetic of Warcraft, and I imagine it might look a bit less ceremonial in future movies. Azeroth is clearly shown as a land at peace, so maybe the humans got a bit soft and made their armour and weapon more ceremonial to simply rest on their laurels.

    Looking forward to sequels, we know they're coming. China is making sure of that.



  • To me this interview really encapsulates why it has such a low score on rotten tomatoes. It is this pompous attitude towards movies that come from video games.

    Also, to your point about "no resolution". This is actually one of my favourite things about this movie. It gives me a sense that there is and always will be conflict between the Alliance and the Horde. The best story beats throughout the franchise have been when some greater evil unites these factions in some way. #WC3



  • Not to forget a pompous attitude versus what's acceptable fantasy too, somehow low fantasy romps like LOTR and Game of Thrones is far superiour to Warcraft's high fantasy for some reason or another. In a age of epic TV shows and movies where the magic in them is the equivalent of a strong flashlight ontop of a staff (looking at you, Gandalf), I'm so pleased to see Warcraft just going ALL OUT on showing true magic. I can't wait to see what they'll do with paladins and shamans. Armoured holy warrior with beams of golden light shooting out of a massive warhammer.. ughhghh Duncan Jones please make the squel now.



  • Thank you for your thoughts Brent!

    I can't say that it was a good film, I really can't even say that I enjoyed it greatly. But I see potential and still think Duncan Jones is great as the director and would want a sequel from him. I wonder how much the 30 minutes that got cut hurt the film.

    And to be fair, this isn't a typical movie I would enjoy. This isn't any more stinker to me than Avengers or Man of Steel. I don't consider those to be great films either (Winter Soldier is great). CGI spectacles aren't really my thing, I appreciate great characters above all (acting included). And I think that the orcs were really the highlight in this movie. I found them to be more interesting and believable than the human characters. But that's no surpise since Alliance is scum. =P

    Full Disclosure, playing Warcraft and Wow from the start.