Runtime: 123 minutes
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Final Score: 8/10
The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, an unlikely set of heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their families, their people and their home. So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.
This review is coming from a point of view that knows nothing about the original Warcraft game. That said, the story is simple enough for most people to follow, with some side stories that delve deeper into the world. These side stories on both side of the conflict. This lets us learn about both sides and what drives them, while also keeping the story contained. It never wanders too far from the main plot. Everything is linked to the invasion and what drove the orcs to Azeroth. The story doesn’t end in complete resolution either, this is only the beginning.
We only get to know a few of the characters. Durotan is followed throughout the movie interacting with different characters and we learn about his beliefs and what drives him. He gets the most scenes to develop his character, and it pays off by the end. The other characters are only partially explored. Lothar is the second main character, but none of his scenes work completely in selling his character. They feel flat. We are told his story, not shown. This goes with most of the supporting characters. Khadgar, Garona, Medivh, they are given on or two scenes for us to get to know them. With a two-hour runtime, we don’t spend long enough getting to know them. Scenes are scattered here and there throughout the movie, but just enough to become familiar, not enough to fall in love.
The romance that is set up between Lothar and Garona doesn’t work. There is a sudden attraction from both characters that comes from nowhere. They have known about each other for a single day, and already they are smitten. Combined with the fact that they only get two scenes by themselves, neither of which explore the relationship between them, and it creates a superficial romance. It’s just there for the movie. The two other relationships in the movie are much deeper, but we do not get enough time to appreciate them.
The tone of the dialogue is suitably grim. War has descended and it is reflected in the character’s words. There are very few lines that are meant to be funny. Of course, there are some sarcastic lines from Lothar, but they are subtle and not over the top. Some of the lines feel too much like explanations, not conversations. When characters talk about their past, they sound like they’re explaining their character, not talking to the other character.
This movie lives up to its name. The fight sequences are amazing. While there are still some quick cuts during the fights, we also get some long shots that shows the fighting. And even without blood, the fights still look brutal. The orcs are vicious and demolish anything that gets in their way. There are no parts where it looks like actors in a play. These are warriors doing their jobs.
The music does its job great. It never sticks out in scenes, but it helps each one. During the action sequences, it ramps up and provides a great soundtrack to the fights.
Every set in the movie is epic, from the orc encampment to the main city of Stormwind. There are floating cities, towering spires and grand throne rooms. Each one has a great design that feels real. It’s fantastical but with a drop of realism. And they all look amazing. They aren’t real sets, but it’s hard to tell.
The same goes for the costumes. The armor of the Alliance is all you need in a fantasy movie. Although Warcraft can be known for its over-the-top armor, it is kept to a minimum in this movie. But it still gives a fantastical feel to both sides. The orc’s armor is primal and intimidating, while the Alliance has uniformed armor that invokes images of medieval knights. Everything fits together with the set design and is well made.
Magic is on display the entire movie and it always looks amazing. The vibrant colors draw the eyes, but the effects keep them from looking out of place. There are creatures that are special effects only, mainly the gryphon and the golem, and they all fit into the movie seamlessly. But the main special effects in the movie are the orcs. You may forget sometimes that they are not real.
The tone is perfect. This is what fantasy is meant to feel like. Heroes standing against forces that want to destroy everything they love. Sacrificing themselves to keep the land safe from evil. Fantasy is supposed to be an escape from reality, and this movie does a great job in pulling you into the world of Azeroth. From the sets to the effects, everything feels alien, but could also be real. It creates a world that you want to visit.