The video game that was incredibly popular four or five years ago is back… in movie form! That’s right, gamers, it’s Warcraft featuring armies of humans and orcs pounding away on each other amidst CGI backdrops and PG-13 head-popping.
Seriously, how did this movie get away with a PG-13 and The Conjuring 2 managed an R?
I’m not going to lie and say I don’t pay attention to what the critics say and, for all of the critical drubbing this movie has been taking, I fully prepared myself for two hours of pure video game turned movie butt and now I think there’s something wrong with me because I actually liked it.
Far be it for me to criticize the critics, but far too often we get what I like to call “blood in the water” syndrome where all of the major critics unfairly gang up on a movie that doesn’t deserve it. One makes a strike, the others smell the blood, and it brings on a full feeding frenzy. Perhaps that’s the fate of Warcraft? It could also be that I’m just an jerk and, as some put it, I tried really really hard to like it.
Like, I popped a blood vessel in my eye and pooped my pants a little because I was trying so hard to like it.
Truth: It’s not a bad little flick. Gaudy and flawed, yes, but it has some definite strong points to it.
For one, this movie is gorgeous. It overdoses on the sweet narcotic nectar of CGI at times, employing those annoying sweeping angles where the camera would have to be traveling at warp 10 on top of a coked up kestrel to actually get the shot making it all look incredibly fake in the process, but when it’s not doing that, the movie is just picturesque and, refreshingly – unlike a lot of other fantasy movies of late – not afraid of color. The first shot of the chieftain who’s name I can’t remember because it’s made up and sounds like a noise a cat makes when it pukes is great. It shows a man orc who has the weight of the world on his shoulders and the stress and worry is etched into his face. There are frames of this movie that could be framed and hung as art.
There’s a lot of — How else can I put this? — annoying immaturity in the human cast members. Always quipping, always scoring off each other… the one liners rarely worked and were hardly funny.
I was actually far more interested in the Orc characters who, for the most part, seemed more developed and natural. I have to give some proper credit and recognition to the effects crew on this movie… the orcs were incredibly realized. They were expressive, they looked like they had weight and power, and after a while, you forget they’re in effect. The mo-cap actors were great, the voice acting was great… everything about them was great. Warcraft would have been much better had it been about them instead of the humans.
I haven’t played Warcraft since the first version came out on PC all those many moons ago so I’m totally ignorant on everything beyond that on the actual story, but that’s okay because Warcraft doesn’t really seem to care. A lot happens in this movie and they cram it all into the two hour run time. In some ways, I appreciate this because it does keep the story moving, but in others it’s a bit too damn much and it becomes hard to follow.
On the upside, though, this movie is never predictable and takes several unexpected turns particularly in its final half-hour. I think I enjoyed that more than I enjoyed most of the previous hour and a half. The lack of a real resolution in favor of sequel-baiting is annoying, but I can at least get where they’re going… no one wins. There’s something about that I like.
So, yes, Warcraft is a flawed movie but its hardly a bomb and it’s hardly bad. It’s good even. As I said before, I hate criticize the critics but they’re just wrong on this one. I don’t know if someone put thorns in their popcorn or what, but the critical attacks on this movie are undeserved and actually, I guess, makes me want to stick up for it more than I usually would.