So. The Warcraft movie. I have to be honest here and say that I’ve been waiting for this for YEARS, ever since it was originally announced. We’ve lived through periods of no news, then the excitement that Sam Raimi was interested, the ultimate letdown when that didn’t work out, the excitement then that Duncan Jones was taking over and salivating over every teeny tiny snippet of news or teasers. I watched the gryphon 3D piece on the Legendary app. I was skeptical when I saw the first pieces of footage and elated when I saw the more recent footage with the CGI complete. I’ve seen the walkthroughs of prop sets, watched interviews with the director and cast, and have marveled at how somehow this all came together during a time of personal turmoil for Mr. Jones.
Bottom line, I’m excited for the movie. My friends are excited for the movie. And from what I’ve seen, it has captured the essence of Warcraft and has made real this beautiful and zany world of Azeroth that I’ve loved for 12 years. The initial reviews that we’re seeing from critics however, are not so positive, and while I don’t expect Warcraft to be a Citizen Kane-esque piece of film art, I think the critics are proving that they just don’t get it.
I’m also just going to put this here – the embargo on reviews is officially until May 30, so any professional movie critic releasing their review now is breaking the embargo. Consider that as you consider the source.
Hold on to your butts people. This might be a long one.
Let’s start with this review from Variety:
Okay, point in case. Warcraft IS A STORY BY NERDS, FOR NERDS. Yes, it cribs from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and pretty much any other sci-fi/fantasy/geeky franchise. Of course the storyline draws from those influences. It’s a loving tribute to those franchises, a little *wink wink, nudge nudge* to geek and pop culture. The Warcraft franchise actually has developed a deep lore over the years, with tons of different factions and intertwining minor storylines that feed into the main narrative. Between the games, the novels, the comics, and the short stories, it would take an insane number of films to tell the story of Azeroth in its entirety. We’re talking a number similar to Star Wars or the Marvel Universe movies here. This first movie is simply the beginning of the heart of the story and the story told in the very first Warcraft RTS game from 1995. It was a simple story, but it started the entire Warcraft canon.
Now I know that this critic has never played the Warcraft games and isn’t familiar with the franchise. Part of what makes Warcraft unique is its ability to tell serious, dark stories (and they do get VERY dark, if you doubt me, read the novel Illidan by William King) while still retaining an almost tongue-in-cheek silliness. I liken it a bit to Deadpool – he likes to break the 4th wall on a regular basis and while it gets bloody and violent, it’s also over the top silly. Blizzard doesn’t often blatantly break that 4th wall, but they do give nods to popular films, viral videos, social media, and even player behavior itself. Even some of the characters within the World of Warcraft are named after popular players and developers. It serves as a way to connect fans into the universe, to give it heart, and insert a bit of levity. My point is that any decent Warcraft movie, in order to be uniquely Warcraft and not a generic piece of fantasy, has to include both the serious and the silly in just the right amount and sometimes at the same time. This isn’t exactly Tolkien, but it’s not exactly Monty Python either.
Moving on to The Wrap, which was a pretty scathing review overall:
Again, this person has never played the games. Warcraft is notorious for having big, visually impactful and unproportional gear and weapons on characters. It’s part of the Warcraft style, a visual orgasm of sorts that makes it easier to track fellow players and enemies during in-game encounters. The colors are bright, vibrant, and sometimes clashy. The materials are slick, shiny, and overly tactile. From a distance you can tell the difference between a staff-wielding cloth-wearing mage and a sword-and-board, plate-wearing warrior, and this is completely intentional. From the clips that I’ve seen, they have tried to keep that aesthetic alive. It was always going to look a bit tacky when making the transition to the big screen – if you want drab and realistic, go see Lord of the Rings (much love to that franchise, by the way). As for the music? From what I’ve heard so far (the Warcraft main theme), the music is exactly what it should be – a fresh take on the game themes, equally tribal and regal with a heavy percussive theme. That’s Warcraft as much as the Imperial March is Star Wars.
This is the thing that I will wait to give my opinion on until after I see the entire movie. I am already impressed with the orcs and the amount of emotion that the actors and the CGI convey. The human acting I am a bit concerned about, to be honest, but I’m withholding judgement until I can see it on the big screen.
And finally, this lovely comment by The Guardian:
Really? REALLY? So you’re telling me that a movie based on a story written in the 1990s is about today’s immigration issues? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize Tupac wrote this screenplay. It reeks of cheap click-bait and making issues where there are none intended. Warcraft’s writers, developers and fanbase are incredibly diverse, spanning all races, nationalities, genders, and ages. This was, quite frankly, insulting.
So, dear movie critics, criticize if you like. The actual viewer feedback from movie-goers in Europe has been overwhelmingly positive. Warcraft fans (and there are millions) are going to love it, that much I’m sure of. I’ll leave you with this little tidbit of a Guardian review of a teeny-tiny little movie from 2001 y’all might know: