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As the Orcs look to leave their dying world they come to Azeroth, where the humans are not so welcoming to invading forces, and war breaks out between the races.

To be brutally honest, if not a fan of the games or never having played them, then this movie may not be the best choice to see.  The entire movie of Warcraft is largely for the true old school fans of the franchise, this reviewer included in that.  The writing of the movie leaves a lot to be desired when introduced to characters, places, race, magic and so on.  There really aren’t many introductions in this film, so it kind of gets off to a running start and sets the pace to be action packed and minimally story driven. While it appears that way at first, the story does quickly develop and the familiarity of characters finally begins to take hold, but it really did this movie a disservice by taking so long.  There are so many characters within the world of Warcraft that it can be hard to follow at times as to whom did what to whom and which characters possess which abilities.

That being said about the lack of introduction, Warcraft was a truly fun and enjoyable movie, even if not a fan of the games but still a fan of fantasy.  The movie starts off with CG heavy Orcs but it is not a distraction, and proves to work well within the world of the movie.  Since the movie is about fantasy creatures and magic, the CG and visual effects has the room to be a little campy, and not entirely realistic.  In truth though, ILM, WETA and all others involved in the visuals of the film did a truly great job.  Warcraft had a great feeling to it, and the world in which it exists feels like a coherent place and everything fits.

The overall look of everything felt so classically “Warcraft” that it was truly brilliant. The Orcs looked as huge and threatening as they should, and a lot of the background ones looked just like the grunts and peons of the games.  There were dwarves in the film that looked identical to dwarves that have been in the previous games, as well as WoW (World of Warcraft), and elves even appeared in a few scenes too and looked spot on to what dedicated fans are familiar with. Even the Dark Portal itself looked perfect and as ominous as it had in the early games. Everything looked great for sure and was nothing but true eye candy for pre-existing franchise fans. The locations were familiar as well and truly looked like how they should. Stormwind and Ironforge looked just as they have in the past games and even in WoW as well. Warcraft felt full-on fantasy and should be rewarded for it, as it completely immerses viewers in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor and should get fans amped up for the possibility of sequels.

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Onto more film related aspects of Warcraft.  The director, Duncan Jones, (son of the late David Bowie) did a fine job handling this fan dependent film as he is no film veteran yet, but he still is no novice to the medium. Jones directed Moon and Source Code, and is familiar with enough to be able to get by, and know how to please the audience since both of those films had good results as well. The directing of the film was not that big of a deal here and neither was the acting.  While there are some familiar faces in the film, most of the actors are still pretty young and up-and-coming in their careers.  The acting did not need to be that good, since the audience is mostly there to see the battles and the magic, and not follow characters. Also, Warcraft is a fantasy story, which means do not get attached to characters as many of them may die in this film or the next.  The main story of the film, while somewhat familiar for the Warcraft fans, was still different enough that things that may have been canon in the games is now altered for the on-screen version of the story. This is fine, as there are so many stories in the Warcraft realms that some liberties for the sake of film are a must. The cinematography of the film is also on par and is pretty normal for majority of the picture, but there were some shots that were really cool, including in a couple battle scenes where various angles got interesting and gave way to fun compositions. The score of the film was also adequate, as it just needed to be a classical sounding score with nothing too special, since the film was more reliant upon the visuals and communicating, and the score just adds to the overall aesthetic of emotions in shots for this film.

Again, the best for the fans is the fact that this movie finally exists at all.  Here, all that has been seen of the Warcraft characters and worlds in any detail before has been that of cinematic cut scenes from the games, as well as just the run of the mill, in-game play in WoW.  This felt a lot like that, but strung together into a familiar storyline and brought to life. For the fans of the franchise, this movie truly was a treat with so many direct nods from the games, besides characters and locations that were like home.  There was even a birds-eye-view shot of a few villages and encampments that felt like the old strategy games of Warcraft’s early years.  Besides that, some of the creatures, armor, magic and so on were nods to the past Warcraft.  There was even the sheep spell, as well as a ride or two on the back of a gryphon, and maybe a murloc in the background somewhere.  Seeing characters like Gul’dan, Garona, Lothar, Llane, Durotan, Medivh and so on, were a pure treat.  Some of the chants from crowds in the films were actual recordings of fans from BlizzCon 2014, so that was a cool nod in there. Also, the movie set up the possible sequel that would be one of the most important stories in the entire Warcraft universe.  The baby that is born to Durotan and Draka during the course of the film is named Go’el and becomes one of the most pivotal and vital characters in all of Warcraft.  Go’el is a personal favorite, and excites this reviewer to the potential of the sequel or sequels as they would be even better than this first film for the franchise.  If a sequel or two are made, then the probability of seeing more races like trolls, night elves, the undead, harpies, tauren, wyverns, centaurs, gnomes, goblins, dragons, and the burning legion may be very high.  The future stories within the Warcraft world are better and more intense than this one, and would draw larger audiences and be even more fun than this film was.  Maybe even Leeroy Jenkins could be in a sequel.

To recap, Warcraft was a super fun film to watch for the established fan, and may be a fun watch for the fantasy fans, but may require explaining or research after the film. Acting was okay, score was good, story was fine but the visuals were the best.  This is a film to see for fantasy fans, whether on the big screen or not.  See it for the great visuals, the world it is building, and the potential of amazing sequels.  See it, enjoy it, and choose allegiances wisely.

FOR THE HORDE!!

 

Directed By: Duncan Jones

Produced By: Stuart Fenegan, Alex Gartner, Jon Jashni, Charles Roven, Thomas Tull

Written By: Duncan Jones, Charles Leavitt, Chris Metzen

Date released: June 10th, 2016

Distributed By: Blizzard, Legendary, Atlas

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga

Run Time: 123 mins

Rating: PG-13

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