Anyone knows me knows I am not a video game player. I have a lazy eye and so video games have always been tough for me to play and so I’ve never had any interest in them. However, I’ve seen a good movie based on a board game in Clue. I’ve seen a good movie based on an amusement park ride in the first Pirates movie. Anything can produce a story worth telling on the big screen.
I wasn’t planning on seeing Warcraft with everything going on getting ready for my trip but I ended up with a free evening so I figured- why not give it a shot? I went into the theater with an open mind hoping to at least have dumb fun and I came out baffled. I think I’m a pretty smart person but I can’t think of when I’ve been more confused over a film’s narrative in my life. I couldn’t even tell you a name of a single character.
The thing about a movie like Lord of the Rings is it seems complicated but in reality it is very simple. There is good vs evil and a powerful ring that needs to be destroyed. That’s it. Everything else is either an obstacle or assistance to that objective.
We also build characters slowly. We start with 2- Frodo and Gandalf and then add Mary, Pippen, Sam, Aragon, Legolas etc.
The problem with Warcraft is it splits its time between 2 groups- humans and orcs. It’s never clear who is the good guy and who is bad. There are many characters within each realm and each has a backstory and motivations. Without a lead narrator to focus on like say Willow in Willow it felt impossible to remember all of this. I guess that’s where being a fan helps because you already know who all these characters are.
Then there is magic called the fel and a portal but I didn’t really understand what that magic did or how it was used. The rules of the portal were very murky.
And some scenes just didn’t make sense. Like towards the end the characters are battling and then Travis Fimmel’s Lothar is knocked down to the ground. The screen goes black and he wakes up. All the orcs are watching him and then he takes on the leader orc. Why are they all watching him? What has changed from when they were just battling with each other? I have no idea.
There is also a pool with special fel powers that seemed to be both good and bad. Ben Foster plays Medivh who is a wizard I think but he’s no Ian McKellen. That’s for sure. Most of the time he seems good but then he is bad and I didn’t know why he was bad.
Paula Patton is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she looks like a bad Princess Fiona at Comicon. She is half orc-half human but her relationship with Lothar and Dominic Cooper’s character is confusing. She’s so wooden in the part I think she will be nominated for a razzie.
Toby Kebbell is the best part as Duratan but the movie goes away from him for long sections and I felt like he should have been more of a narrator. It was confusing why the bad orc Gul’dan didn’t just take Duratan out when he had the chance. Why did the orcs put up with Gul’dan was never clear when Duratan seemed like the natural leader? There was the fel but I didn’t get it.
Honestly I fell asleep twice for a minute or two. I guess it looked ok but other than that I found Warcraft to be a boring mess. I’m told fans of the game love it, so that’s cool. I can only speak for myself and say it didn’t work for me.
The acting was also really poor from everyone. Glen Close does appear and that scene made no sense to me (sensing a trend here…). But Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Paula Paton, Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel, Daniel Wu have all done good stuff but here they all felt flat and wooden.
My advice to future fantasy directors- KISS- Keep It Simple Stupid. Fantasy that works like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings are at their core simple stories of good vs evil and a heroes journey. All the cool special effects and world building mean nothing if the story doesn’t work for this kind of movie. KISS! KISS!
Overall Grade- D