After a few days of delay, I have finally gotten to sit down and watch the Warcraft movie in the theaters with Yotaan. I wore my Alliance shirt, put on my quest giver baseball cap, and saw the whole movie, very beginning to bitter end (of course, we stayed until the credits had finished). And now, as with most noteworthy things I do, I’m going to write all about it! So here it is, THE PANTS SANCTIONED WARCRAFT MOVIE REVIEW.
THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS TO THE WARCRAFT MOVIE. I WILL DISCUSS CHARACTER. I WILL DISCUSS PLOT. I WILL DISCUSS JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING. FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET VIEWED, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
First things first, I need to clarify the viewpoint I was in while watching the movie. Everyone has biases and preconceived notions, and here were mine. I am an avid warcraft player with a deep love for the game. Going in, I wanted the movie to be a success. However, I’m also a bit of a lore nut, well versed in the game story behind the events of the movie. One of my least favorite things is when movie adaptations twist the story to be unrecognizable so I was a bit worried at the extent of the lore changes. Finally, this was the first video game movie I have seen so I was coming into the movie with none of the baggage of the genre.
And the verdict is… the movie was alright. It wasn’t groundbreaking or particularly compelling but it also wasn’t horrible or cringe worthy. Middle of the road I guess? It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great, it was solidly acceptable.
Let’s start with the not so great.
My biggest complaints with the movie was the pacing of the story. The whole thing just felt rather rushed and poorly explained. Once the orcs invaded Azeroth proper, there was just a huge string of events and characters being introduced. The movie was 2 hours long but I felt like I barely got to learn about the progression of the war itself. One minute the orcs are invading, the next Llane is planning for a final stand. There just wasn’t a good development of the crisis.
I would have liked to see a scene where our heroes try to save a town, only to be eventually pushed back by sheer numbers. We needed more orc human battles, not just in random woods where its hard to tell overall who’s winning the war. I wanted to be sold on the fact that these savage orcs had just invaded and destroyed 18 of the 21 legions of Stormwind soldiers. Show more of the war.
Some details were totally glossed over but there were other scenes that dragged on for entirely too long. I could have done with the meeting between Durotan and Llane being much shorter. The outcome of the meeting was A) Medivh is brought to Karazhan and his treachery is then revealed, B) Lothar’s son dies and he gets all mopey and C) Llane learns that there are orcs who don’t agree with Guldan. While these are all important plot developments, in theory they could have happened at any point in the film with very little set up. Outcome C can still occur in a shortened meeting scene and hey, they can add a battle scene in a town like I’d like where A and B are forced to happen. Two birds, one stone!
Overall, the movie felt disconnected. The scene where the leaders debated about forming the Alliance didn’t really seem all that connected to anything else happening since the issue was completely dropped once the assembly closed. Llane marches into camp, expecting to have the sizable contribution orc ‘rebellion’ on his side but then just charges in anyways when he sees that’s not true. And come to think of it, why exactly did Llane just decide to charge in willy nilly and take on the orcish camp? There was a whole bit about how the orcs fight with brute force but the humans fight with their brains. Use your brain king man, come up with some clever plan!
I have a feeling that some of the disjointedness was due to poor editing sadly. The battle scene in Karazhan was particularly bad about this- the scene went from point A to point C and logically you know you went to point B first but the movie never showed it. One moment Lothar is being crushed by magic and Khadgar is spellcasting at Medivh and the next the two of them are hiding under the golem. That battle scene was the most obvious example but in general, the whole movie felt that way. I’m hoping that the directors cut version can clear a lot of that up (because you’d better believe I’m owning this movie).
Putting on my lore hat for a second, the movie also had some noticeable differences story-wise from the game. I totally expected that going in but all the same, I was a little bit sad. The changes that stood out to me the most were the lack of the Shadow Council, the changes to the Guardian, and the fact that Dalaran was floating.
The lack of a Shadow Council meant that Llane’s death happened in a completely different manner. Garona never betrayed the man’s trust while his son (Varian) watched on in horror. And Garona is a very different character because of this, definitely more complex and I’d argue better, but still different. The lack of the Shadow Council is only going to change the lore more as this movie version continues.
Secondly, the whole Medivh the Guardian thing is changed. The source of his corruption is somewhat shifted, seemingly to erase his highly complicated background. It makes for a less interesting character I think but I also totally understand why the movie makers opted to do so. Also, the job of the Guardian seemed to be different. He was more of an ally to Stormwind than a protector of the entire realm. And finally, and in my opinion, most importantly Medivh never aged Khadgar. Does this mean future movies will continue to have baby Khadgar instead of Dadgar? Is Dadgar not a canon part of the movie universe? (Inquiring minds need to know!)
Finally, and probably most nick picky is the change that Dalaran is now floating. Unless I’m just remembering my lore horribly wrong, Dalaran does not get lifted out of the crater until after the first invasion of the orcs. It’s more around the time of the scourge invasion actually. I’m sure this was done because floating Dalaran is much more beautiful and iconic but it still irked me just a little bit. Ok maybe I’m alone on this. Still though!
The last major flaw I found was the weak development of characters. There were almost too many people to meet that I felt like most everyone was a 2D one word description instead of a person. I am sure, this is due to the aforementioned poor pacing of the movie but it is still something that bothered me. The death of Lothar’s son just didn’t hurt as much as it should have because the audience still barely knew either Lothar or Callan (by the way, it took me forever to just even find his name, which shows you how little you knew of him).
Ok I think I have ragged on the movie for long enough, now let’s get to the part where I talk about all the things that they did right!
Firstly, and I think just about every other review is going to mention this, the movie is visually stunning. The landscapes such as the shot of Stormwind and Karazhan were gorgeous. The orcs seemed more alive than the humans at some points. It was truly Warcraft on the big screen. I felt like I was stepping inside the game and I was very very impressed.
And the magic, ooh the magic was just beautiful! I went with other members of my family (who are not as familiar with warcraft as Yotaan and I are) and their first response was how impressive the spellcasting looked. It was fantastic! Flashy without being over the top and very distinctively warcraftian. Two thumbs up from this mage!
The movie was also chock full of little details and easter eggs which were a blast to find. I saw the murloc (there was actually a cheer in the audience at that scene), the classic fishing bobber, and Grommash Hellscream to name a few, and I’m sure there was more. It really felt like the movie was made by wow player for wow players and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Also, there was a refreshing amount of female fighters on both the orc and human side. In the grand scheme of things, this is a really small detail but I totally loved that it wasn’t just huge muscular orc man bashing huge muscular human man. So often fantasy movies like this leave out the ladies, other than a few warrior princesses scattered here and there. I like the fantasy genre a lot but I always come out wishing there had been more regular warriors who were also regular women. And in the warcraft movie, I got exactly that. There were women and they were wearing the same armor fighting in the same battles. Rock on!
Even though I mentioned this in the cons, I also think the characters were one of the strengths of the film. As I mentioned before, I think the Garona character was changed from game lore into a very interesting and complex one. The beginning was a little rocky but as the movie developed, we quickly got to learn more about the conflict with in her. Her struggle to accept when people were actually being kind to her for the first time in her life, and then her bravery to give up that acceptance for the greater good. She was a martyr character but also the scapegoat and the ultimate hero. I could probably go on about Garona for an entire blog post all on it’s own so I’ll finish here and just say: Garona was amazingly compelling.
Secondly, although I knew this one was coming, I found myself more and more interested in the Medivh character. He was struggling so hard to do the right thing; it’s almost as if the shock of finding out that he was the one who brought the orcs to Azeroth horrified himself as well as everyone else. Very much the tragic hero but even he got his final redemption in the end, when he opened the portal to Stormwind for the human army to escape through.
And finally, Khadgar. What, don’t look at me like that! I can explain alright, I can explain!
The Khadgar character was undeniably my favorite character in the entire movie. In a world of totally confident, competent, and heroic knights, Khadgar was the mage who didn’t always know how to best go about things. He would mess up, he would blunder, and he would bumble but in the end, Khadgar always strove for the right things. Everyone else was so jaded and battle hardened; Khadgar was a fresh breath of enthusiasm and youth. Heck, appearance wise, he was even a bit disheveled and pudgy. And I absolutely loved that. I was rooting for Khadgar from the beginning because gosh darnit he really tried and he really cared. Not because of any overly heavy sense of duty or loyalty but because Khadgar was a good person at heart.
You know how I said I could write a whole blog post on Garona? Well, I could probably write a novel on Khadgar. Which is why I’m going to stop myself here.
Overall, I’d have to say the Warcraft movie was a decent movie. There were issues to be sure and I occasionally found myself broken out of the moment by the jarring editing or plot speed but nothing was unforgivable. If nothing else, it was a full 2 hours of nerd eye candy. But the movie, among it’s underdeveloped and two dimensional characters also hid some real gems. I just spent AN ENTIRE EXPANSION with Dadgar to complete that stupid ring quest and yet I found myself absolutely in love with the Khadgar in the movie. And the sheer nerdy joy of watching my favorite game on the big screen certainly helped.
It had its flaws but the Warcraft movie was nonetheless a highly enjoyable film. And I definitely cannot wait for the sequel!