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Warcraft: Movie Review

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I’m not sure I’m the best person to review the new Warcraft movie. I mean, I’ve never really played any MMORPGs, but I do know my way around a DMG and a PHB. If you know your nerd abbreviations you’re probably pretty impressed by now. What I’m trying to say is that while I’ve never turned my back on my family, hygiene or other personal responsibilities in order to spend my days mired in a computer generated fantasy world with other like-minded shut-ins, in my youth I dabbled in more traditional role playing fantasy outlets-Dungeons and Dragons, Wizardry, Final Fantasy..etc.-, so at least I can understand the allure. And I didn’t learn everything I know about World of Warcraft from South Park, even if I do believe that’s one of the more accurate representations of online gaming available. I get it, nerds. I’m an occasional nerd myself, and I’m determined to be fair.

Warcraft 1Warcraft tells the story of how the warrior race of orcs found themselves to be in the Earth-like world of Azeroth, locked in an eternal war with the human inhabitants of the realm. The orcs are led from their own ruined world by the evil sorcerer Gul’dan, who through dark magic seeks to bring the entire Orcish Horde through a giant interdimensional portal and take over Azeroth. Standing in the way of Gul’dan’s War Party is the King of Stormwind, Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and his brother-in-law, general and all around bad-ass knight Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel).With the help of a couple of powerful wizards and some human sympathizers among their enemy-most notably Orc Chieftain Durotan and half-orc hottie Garona-only they can hope to defend the realm against the scourge of Gul’dan. Betrayal lurks around every corner, though, and threatens to throw the future of both humans and orcs into despair.

Warcraft 2Warcraft is first and foremost a pretty solid bit of fan service. Even with a limited knowledge of the game, it was easy to tell that director Duncan Jones was intent to do the source material justice. The world is brilliantly realized and the computer generated characters, sets and effects have a video game quality that’s ramped up for the screen. Everything down to the armor and weapons will look familiar to even the most superficially initiated. Where the problem lies for Warcraft, as it does for nearly every video game adaption ever attempted, is that at some point you are always beholden to the game. That’s great for the game’s fans, but for everyone else you run the risk of a story that’s difficult to fully understand and an ending that leaves you scratching your head because you absolutely must leave it at a conclusion that works for the source, which is what happens here.

Warcraft 4The acting isn’t much to write home about, but that’s mostly a product of material that’s more focused on moving the story along than developing characters and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for this movie, as the action is paramount. Nobody looks too bad, but nobody really stands out, with the possible exception of Ben Foster as the Guardian Medivh, wizardly protector of Azeroth, whose intensity would not be in question were he to be portraying Doody in a high school production of Grease.

Warcraft is not by any means a great movie for the ages, but it delivers what it’s promised to deliver-a compelling enough story set within a world that means a lot to a lot of people. The fans at the screening I attended seemed thrilled, and that carries a lot of weight in my book. As for the greater genre of swords and wizards, it’s a pretty strong film as well. It’s no Conan the Barbarian, I guess, but it’s better than Dragonheart  or Seventh Son. I don’t know if it will do well enough to spawn a franchise, but there’s no way it won’t get its own cartoon at least. Can The Revenant say that? Yes, I’m going to harp on The Revenant forever.

Warcraft 3

Warcraft (2016)
Director:  Duncan Jones
Studio:  Universal Studios
Genre:  Action, Adventure, Fantasy
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  June 10th, 2016
Author:  Steven Hanning

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