Written By: Traves Bezenar
The world hasn’t been kind to video game movies over the years. Sure, some of them manage to make money but for the most part movies based on video games have fallen short of everyone’s expectations. A lot of people, especially hardcore WoW players, were hoping that ‘Warcraft’ would be the movie to break that stigma. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. So far fans have seemed to enjoy the movie, giving it an 83% on rotten tomatoes, but critics have been less than kind in their reviews (27% on rotten tomatoes). Likewise the film has had mixed box office revenue doing poorly here in North America (managing a measly $24Mil) but raking in over $140Mil in Asian markets (best opening in China’s history actually). With all that conflicting information the question, “is ‘Warcraft’ good or bad?” needs to be answered, so let’s talk about it.
First thing I have to do is give praise to the visual effects department. The creatures in ‘Warcraft’ are on par with what we saw in movies like ‘Avatar’, ‘Ninja Turtles’, and other painstakingly crafted movie worlds. Sure you could argue that the mounts, orcs, and elves weren’t as realistic as the animals in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ but they were never supposed to be. ‘Warcraft’ does a great job of paying service to the source material when it comes to the design and vision for the characters and environments. There were a few points where the mo cap / lip syncing failed for me but it was few and far between so I’ll give it a pass for the most part. The only thing I really didn’t like about the visuals wasn’t FX related but the costumes. I know it’s supposed to be high fantasy, and I know it’s true to the source material, but I just thought it looked stupid. I mean, what kind of battle tested knight has clean, undented, and beautiful battle armor - not many.
Where ‘Warcraft’ really suffers is the acting department. There are a few stand out performances, Toby Kebbell for instance is simply amazing as Durtan. In fact most of the men and women behind the CGI characters deliver stellar performances, it’s the onscreen (human) actors that bring the movie down. The vast majority of the human characters in ‘Warcraft’ are bland, generic, emotionless, and a chore to watch. Travis Fimmel as Anduin is the only person on the human side of the cast that’s worth investing in emotionally or bothering to watch in general. He has a great emotional story that was drug down by the poor acting of his co-stars.
The other glaring issue with this movie is the plot. Not only is it slow moving and confusing to non WoW players, but it’s boring. ‘Warcraft’ is a lot like ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ in that it shows far too much of the boring bureaucracy involved in fighting a war than it does of the war itself. I don't have the exact numbers but I’d speculate that less than a quarter of the movies run-time is spent showing the character in battle. Couple that with the tediously boring subplots, relationships that make no sense, and convoluted plot twists and you have the perfect recipe for a bad story.
I guess you can tell from that last line that I didn't enjoy ‘Warcraft’ nearly as much as some others did. There were a few points that I really liked but not enough of them to justify the price of admission. Great visuals alone aren’t enough to make up for poor acting and a boring plot. If you’re a fan of WoW than I’m sure you’ll love ‘Warcraft’ and praise it as a great adaptation of the source material, but if you’re not a fan of the mmo, or are someone that only goes to the movies a few times a year, I’d advise you to skip this one all together.