“Step in” the Guardian of Azeroth said. Somehow I felt like he was talking to the audience. Warcraft transports us to the most beautiful fantasy world I’ve seen in films in years. It may lack the complexity of Middle-Earth, but the focused introduction of this world made it sink in so smoothly. It’s like we entered the portal where the orcs are threatening to pour in.
And then there’s the painfully boring human side of the fence where clichés pile up on top of each other wherever they’re present. It’s not like the orcs are devoid of them (family themes, cough), but things start to feel annoying when everyone’s poking into anything that has a hole in it or that looks like cosplay equipment.
The jokes whiz by like the heavily edited pace, one after the other until they feel annoying too. Warcraft is filled with flaws that are hard to forgive because they happen so often. Even the characters themselves are of cookie-cutter fare. Yet it doesn’t stop there. Characters change allegiances without much buildup, resulting in more scratching of heads than the number of redeeming qualities in the film.
When things go the way they should be though, be ready to stare in awe. Warcraft feels like the next Avatar when it comes to technology. The CGI is undoubtedly one of the best in history, and the action is visceral and hard-hitting. There is an intensity to every blow, every charge and every shout that compels the audience to survive every groan-inducing valley to witness in awe the next peak.
This should’ve been another terrible film still, even with the moments of wonder included. Thankfully the impact of every bad scene is lessened by the quick but overdone editing and light tone (prepare for the cringe, though). It doesn’t take itself seriously, not only in jokes but the look itself. This is a film based on a video game, you can hear the filmmakers scream on top of the castles, raising to the skies their fake props and b-movie level actors.
I honestly got blinded by the crew’s track record of blockbuster hits and critical darlings that I hoped this would be the X-Men moment of video game movies. The reality is we’ll have to wait a bit longer (Angry Birds arrived with muted impact) for Assassin’s Creed, fingers crossed.
This is miles away from the likes of the film I mentioned, early proof that comic book adaptations were viable. Keep your heads up, gamers, but do realize the scars of Warcraft will remain forever in our hearts. Shame on you, Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Duncan Jones and company. You almost did it, you almost did.