After a few weeks of being out in other countries and receiving mostly horrible reviews, Warcraft finally hit U.S. theaters on Friday. The film unfortunately, as expected, bombed in the states making only $24 million over the weekend. We have a full breakdown of the weekend box office here. At least it’s doing well internationally, (especially in China) so we might be getting that sequel after all.
Warcraft has a lot of problems, but it’s a much better movie than people are giving it credit for. Director Duncan Jones has been a fan of the game franchise, since it’s conception over 20 years ago, with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994), which this film is primarily based on, and it’s easy to tell Jones and Co. have poured a lot of love and passion into the film. You can’t say that for a lot of video game movies. Most of the time it just feels like the studio is making a movie of a game just because it’s an exploitable property. That clearly isn’t the case here. There are times, however, where the film can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the games. That’s something I don’t think was really taken into account. That being said, it is nowhere near as confusing as people are saying it is. A lot of people seem to be really confused just by the overall plot of the movie. Coming from someone who’s only played a little World of Warcraft, it’s pretty easy to follow.
When the trailer for Warcraft was first released, I thought the film could work if it commits to itself 100%. While there are a lot of other problems, Warcraft does just that with how it approaches the film’s high fantasy, dense depiction of magic, and cartoony nature. It’s nice for a film not to be embarrassed of its roots.
A similar situation occurred just recently with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. That’s not a great movie or anything, but the film felt like a live action version of the cartoon, unlike the first which was hurt by that.
Focusing on the Horde and Alliance sides, I found it really impressive how the script, by Duncan Jones and Charles Leavitt, was able to empathize with both sides. Character perspectives, from both sides, made sense. Not all of the Horde was made out to be evil, which was Jones’ initial problem with the script in being one sided. It just came down to who you agree with. Surprisingly, the Horde is done much better than the Alliance. Usually CGI characters are harder to connect with than actual real people. Not here as the Alliance is just very bland. Actors, that have proven themselves elsewhere, feel very off. It doesn’t help either that the actors are just given the type of arcs and relationships we’ve seen done much better many times before, with none of it given time to develop. For example, the film tries to give Lothar and Garona a romance.
The characters don’t really have any chemistry, and the subplot goes nowhere due to the film barely focusing on it. A lot of the scenes focusing on the Alliance feel like they’re there to solely move the plot along. All the way on the other side of the spectrum is the Horde. The CGI on them (and most of the other CGI in the film) looks great. I totally bought that they were really in those environments. The acting on the Horde side was also a lot better, with Tobey Kebbell being the main standout. Duraton is one of the best CGI characters ever created. I was actually disappointed whenever the film went back to focusing just on the Alliance. Honestly, the whole movie probably would’ve been better, if it just focused on the Horde.
For a blockbuster, Warcraft takes a refreshing amount of risks. The type of risks that really makes me wonder how they’ll approach some of them going into the sequel, considering we get a sequel. The nice thing about the ending though is it sets up for the sequel, with obviously more story to tell, but it doesn’t make it feel like Warcraft was just a two hour long trailer for Warcraft 2. Even though Warcraft Isn’t great, it does a lot right and was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be, given the reviews. I’d love to see a sequel. There’s a lot of potential going forward for this franchise, and it’s clearly not worth giving up on.