Warcraft Movie Review
I have to preface this with a disclaimer: I have not played World of Warcraft in almost a year. Things like college, work, and illness have kept me away. With that said, I am still familiar with Azeroth, though maybe not as familiar as longer term players. Overall I loved this film and what it does for the game, the fantasy genre, and geeks all over the world. So let’s get a little more specific, but no spoilers.
Combining well crafted, and highly detailed sets with CGI brings to life the city of Stormwind (though in a different layout than I last saw in ‘Warlords of Draenor’), as well as such locales as Elwynn Forest, Goldshire, and the cities of Dalaran and Ironforge. Despite these changes (which may have been prompted by a non gamer audience expected to see the film) I truly felt like I was in Azeroth. Seeing the film in 3-D didn’t hurt either. Details were put in that many others might have ignored or not ever noticed, but I saw the sweaty brow of the Dwarven messenger, and the rippling feathers of the griffins in flight, not to mention the splashing water as a Murloc fished in the foreground while Stormwind forces marched along the road. By the way, Murlocs, I still have not forgiven them for killing my Nightelf hunter over and over and over during the Elwynn Forest quests. Just saying.
Beyond the CGI, the costuming (including the armor – which is pretty true to the scale of the same in game) is amazing! King Llane’s wardrobe alone is drool worthy. I am totally seeing lots of new Warcraft related cosplays this con season, as well as next. I look forward to buying the dvd so I can get better looks at the characters, not that I would totally wear some of those robes. Nope. Not me. Not at all. Speaking of costumes and armor, in-game graphics are one thing, but having real actors wear the gear and be able to move realistically is another. Based on the bonus LA Premier footage shown at the beginning of the movie, we, the audience, learned just how much time and effort went into one of the biggest prop builds in history. We also heard from the actors and the director about not only physical training for the film in general, but also specialized stunt training for weapon and armor use. Side note, in one of the behind the scenes clips, we see one of the main cast holding a sword hilt with markers for the CGI team to build the rest of the epic weapon later.
For anyone not familiar with the history of Azeroth (and I have to include myself since I started playing right before Cataclysm came out, and was desperately trying to catch up to my room mate at the time), what started all this? The movie explanation is that the Orc’s world is dying and they need a new home. Cue the use of dark magic, and a portal, voila, two completely different cultures came bashing together without an opportunity for diplomacy. There are limits to the dark magic’s power other wise the people of Azeroth would be overwhelmed immediately by the combined forces of the Orc clans – called the Horde. In this mix of peoples is Frostwolf Chieftain Durotan, and his clansman Ogrim Doomhammer. The familiarity of the names make me wonder if they are connected to Durotar and Ogrimmar, two regions in the game version of the world.
Without giving any spoilers, I’d like to mention Khadgar. So far, many critics have disliked his character, and/or his portrayal on screen. Personally, as a gamer from the D&D boxed set days, I loved seeing the apparently bumbling, Kirin Tor drop out, with hidden talents rise to the occasion, embrace who he is, and totally use those powers for good. It helps me better understand the Khadgar I’ve met in game a little better. Other details about the film and the characters that stood out were the Orcs repeated references to ‘keeping the old ways’ and ‘respecting traditions’. Like the director said, he feels there are heroes on both sides of the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. Oh, the Nightelves glowing eyes were just as creepy in the film as they are in game. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my Nightelf Hunter, but the eyes, man. The eyes!
Given the dark nature of the storyline – world invasion from another world, dark magic taking over, etc, there are numerous moments of humor throughout the film. The audience with whom I saw Warcraft, laughed out loud at the fishing Murloc (I’m sure we’ve all been on those quest lines and feel the same way about the Murlocs), and the prison guard who gets transmorphed into a sheep, (a spell mages love to use, but everyone hates to have on them, especially during a battle), and one of my personal favorites, King Bronzebeard showing King Llane the very first blunderbus by saying “This is a boomstick”. My late friend Warren would have loved that scene. We missed you ‘brother’.
There is a special appearance by a very well known performer in a small role. Who is it? Go watch the movie and find out. The cast and the director did a brilliant job bringing the world of Azeroth to the screen. I look forward to more movies about this world I came to love. Judging by the audience’s laughter, cheers, and applause they did to. For the Alliance! For the Horde! For Azeroth!
Check out the badge they gave us for the Fan First event at the Imax in Tempe:
There is a two sided poster too, but I don’t have a pic of that. Go see the film, re-ignite your fervor for either the Horde or the Alliance, get your friends excited too. Maybe we’ll run into each other, maybe not. It all depends on which server you play.
Now to get more game time, log in and do the thing.