WarCraft movie review: a big screen raiding party

After all of these years, gaming studio Blizzard Entertainment has finally released a full-length movie based on one of its properties. For this inaugural event, the studio decided to focus on its WarCraft series, a game series that is rich in lore from three full titles and one genre-defining MMORPG. Is WarCraft a video game adaptation you should see though?

The movie follows the events of the first orc invasion following the desolation of their home world. The leader of these green-skinned beings, Gul’dan, plans to invade the world of Azeroth to claim it as their own. The dark portal used to cross worlds is fuel by a green magic, Fel, that requires the draining of life to make it work. One orc war chief, Durotan (Toby Kebbell) has doubts about the plans and the overall safety of this people as Gul’dan ignores the old traditions of the orcish race.

These invasions and slaughterings do not go unnoticed by the humans of Azeroth. Friend of the king Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) takes up arms against the invaders with the help of the mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer), half-orc rogue (or barbarian?) Garona Halforcen (Paula Patton), and the realm’s guardian Medivh (Ben Foster). Their journey and battles cross paths with Durotan as they try to figure out a way to defeat the orcs and their dark portal.

Thinking about it, the human protagonists are basically a World of WarCraft raiding party, but without a healer.

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The movie contains many nods and winks to different things within the WarCraft universe. Since it takes place at the beginning of the orcs versus humans timeline, don’t expect names like The Lich King or Pandarians to show up.

It’s a film filled with incredibly dense lore, names, and events, which is both a blessing and a curse. While it manages to include a lot of depth during its 123-minute run time, there are times when you’ll feel either underwhelmed or overwhelmed. You’d be forgiven for losing track of everything that’s going on around half-way into the movie, only to pick it up again towards the end. Couple that with many unanswered questions whose answers are only nodded to during the film and it really is a movie for the fans.

Its story, dialogue, and the verbal mannerisms of the orcs were captured perfectly. There were a few lines that felt cheesy and the script overall could have used a few more edits to try and tighten up the plodding sections.

Besides the storyline and franchise, one of the biggest draw cards to the WarCraft movie is its use of CGI and real actors. The trailers made the movie appear to be one long cutscene, which hasn’t worked in the past, but thankfully it does here. The orcs look grimy and realistic, the magic effects are gorgeous, locations are stunning, and battles are easy to follow.

There were, however, a few scenes that could have used a bit most spit and polish, and at times orcs looked too shiny and plastic for what they are. Even with these niggles, the movie is an all out eye candy fest and one you should watch on IMAX and in 3D.

Movie information:

Release Date: 10 June 2016 (South Africa)
Cast: Travis Fimmel; Paula Patton; Ben Foster; Dominic Cooper
Studio: Legendary Pictures
Director: Duncan Jones
Genre: Action
Age restriction: 10-12 PGV
Running time: 2 hours 4 minutes

Verdict: WarCraft is an excellent watch and fans of the series are sure to lap up every second of it. Newcomers may find the story a bit daunting and the movie could have done with a few more months in development. If you’re looking for an epic fantasy film though, then you cannot go wrong with WarCraft.

Score: 8/10



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