Warcraft

Plays by its own risqué rules


Warcraft

  • Plays by its own risqué rules

Warcraft

  • Plays by its own risqué rules


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Travis Fimmel
Toby Kebbell
Paula Patton
Dominic Cooper
Ben Foster

Written by

Duncan Jones
Charles Leavitt
Chris Metzen

Directed by

Duncan Jones



WHAT TO EXPECT

There was practically nothing to expect from Warcraft. To me, this could as well be yet another spectacular narrative failure of a video game adaptation, as have most video game adaptations been. The varied examples—from the abominable Super Mario Bros. to the gratuitously dragged-out Resident Evil movie franchise—are for everyone to see.

Except, this is a film directed by Duncan Jones.

Kicking off his career with two financially restricted, yet ridiculously ambitious, films—Moon and Source Code—Warcraft will be his third movie. That there is a gap of as many as five years between the 2011 Gyllenhaal starrer and the adaptation of the MMORPG is both obvious, and, if one’s to do their homework, unsurprising.

The idea of a Warcraft film began to form almost ten years ago. During most of the decade-long timeline, Sam Raimi was attached to direct. Eventually, however, he was ultimately replaced by Jones, who—in an attempt to be as faithful to the game as possible—took three years to make this film what I would get to see in a while. The dedication in itself made me curious. It was the only thing I held on to, considering my sparse, very basic knowledge of the game itself. Then again, I was also banking on my judgment of the film as a specific end-product.

And as the lights dimmed and the movie began, I realized that was a splendid idea.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Transported to the world of humans, the Orcs enter with plans to take lives and take over the world. Banding together are the King of the Stormwind kingdom (Dominic Cooper; Miss You Already), ruler of the humans Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel; television’s Vikings) and young mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer; The Book Thief). On their journey to protect the World humans inhabit, they find unlikely allies from the Orc world—Garona (Paula Patton; Deja Vu), and chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Durotan (Toby Kebbell; RocknRolla)—who help them find balance in perspective, if nothing else.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Protect

Protect

How much of an influence my clean slate (I managed to avoid as much visual promotion of the film as I could) was on my receptiveness of the movie, I may never know. What I do know, however, is that it isn’t just made by enthusiastic fans of the game; it’s made by a competent filmmaker who has two incredibly strong films behind him. The average human psyche, unfortunately thus, allows us to be hard on the director for writing and directing something as thematically and tonally different from his previous creations.

As is quite apparent, though, Warcraft is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

As do some films necessarily need to be. After all, we live in a world where variety in entertainment is essential, and every film must be appreciated within its spectrum. An action film like John Wick could, superficially, be written off as a generic cash cow. What the directors did with the movie, however, was to give it some degree of attention to detail. There was a phenomenal amount of world building, character establishment and arc written in that made the movie fuller, and a lot more entertaining than a lazier version of it could have been. Do the character’s in Leitch’s film make remotely practical decisions? No. But the makers manipulate you to give them your constant attention.

Jones’s latest does the same thing.

Survive

Survive

While Jones might be a die-hard fan of the franchise in itself, what brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness. The makers understand fully well how bizarre the elements of its source are, and just go with it. The orcs, magical superpowers, and color-coded portals; they all exist. Of course, none of these plot devices only just exist without justification. The Orcs, for example, receive their share of establishment. Their dying world is on display to its audience for a good five minutes—everything from the expanse, dystopia and dull future set up an image system that helps viewers understand where they’re coming from, and precisely why they need to teleport themselves to the world of the humans.

To visually achieve such an establishment, the director uses a dangerously precise stylistic method. The brilliant motion-capture aside, the modeling of the characters deliberately goes two steps backward on the realism factor. Viewers, thus, become hyper-aware of their difference from the humans, because the deliberate, yet teensy, lack of detail—the animation movie surrealism, if you may—doesn’t register in their minds as organic enough. Comparatively, and in a drastic difference from the “Orc world”, the segments focussing solely on the human world naturally look like your friendly neighborhood live-action fantasy film.

When the orcs and humans face each other, however, is when Jones’s vision and his clever usage of the aforementioned image systems pop. Blend them together, and you’ll realize just how visually bizarre the makers wanted the film to be. Sure, it’s not universally likable, but those who understand what the makers were truly going for would respect why the film looks the way it does, if not anything else. When the worlds clash, you’re able to see the differences (and similarities) between the two organisms, and everything slowly falls into place. You’re invested alright.

Maybe not emotionally, though.

What brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness.Ankit Ojha

You’re practically here to have a blast, and the movie gives you just that. That doesn’t, for a change, question how well-made the film is. Jones, fortunately, doesn’t dumb anything down. There’s an equal space given for both the Orcs and Stormwind’s kingdom. We are introduced to their respective processes—be it of battle, colonization—which the makers build upon and evolve as the plot progresses. The accurate world-building aside, we’re given solidly written character arcs of Durotan, Garona, and Lothar, with each receiving their own time to build and evolve. Garona’s, specifically, is an excellently developed female character. Her torn loyalties are rather well established, which is made use of brilliantly within the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

The movie isn’t without nits audiences could pick, though. While most of the makers’ attempts at humor have great timing, there is occasional awkwardness to be found. This could (as is overall seen) be a problem with the dialogue writing of the movie, the expository nature of which may not always hit the right spot. At the risk of repeating myself, the film doesn’t allow us to empathize with its characters on an emotional level. And this could lead to polarizing the audience into the type that just goes with the flow and the type that cannot invest in it at all. While the former will love the hyperkinetic, breathless pace, the brilliant world-building and character arcs, and the keyed-up fantasy in itself, the latter would think of it as a noisy, exhaustingly pointless exercise.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

Defend

Defend

If there’s any aspect of the film that wouldn’t have  many nits to pick, however, it would be the performances.

Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, and Dominic Cooper, who seem to take most of the film’s screen time, are brilliant. Fimmel coasts through Lothar’s anger and sarcasm as well as Cooper’s rather convincing portrayal of Stormwind’s King. Paula Patton, who is given one of the most elusive of the film’s characters, is a force of nature. Her expressive dynamics and body language accurately translate how torn just about anyone could feel when they’re perceptive enough to see both sides of the coin. Of the two Bens in the film, viewers are witness to a fantastic Foster, but it’s Schnetzer who is truly in control of the character he essays. Of course, there’s Daniel Wu as Gul’dan who’s as evil as should be. While the nature in itself isn’t a groundbreaking one, Wu’s energy and dedication can convince viewers to go with it. Anna Galvin is ferocious as Draka, and lastly, but not in the very least, there’s Ruth Negga, who has enough charm and grace to make her character—the Queen—feel as authentic as can be.

WORTH IT?

Warcraft, sure enough, is a well-made fantasy film that plays by its own set of rules. And in the world of mainstream filmmaking and disappointing film adaptations of video-games, this is a risqué move. And thus, if nothing else, Jones and the rest of the makers deserves respect for staying true to their vision of the movie— and a strong, consistent one at that.

It, however, is difficult to recommend this film, only because one can never know where each potential viewer of the movie stands. Fans of the game (mainly its first famous installment Orcs and Humans) have a higher chance of wholeheartedly accepting it. Audiences looking for an oversimplified popcorn fantasy, on the other hand, may not entirely be able to invest in the film.

I can implore everyone reading this review, however, to give this one an honest try, if only to know where you stand on the film. The dangerously specific visual style and bizarre CGI beautifully blend with the rest of the rather unhinged narrative—what with the attention-to-detail in its world building and character development that comprise it—that doesn’t compromise to be “mass-accepted” for better financial viability. The makers know what they want the end-product to look like, and it is their conviction in itself that makes an adaptation like Warcraft a filmmaker’s film.

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Travis Fimmel
Toby Kebbell
Paula Patton
Dominic Cooper
Ben Foster

Written by

Duncan Jones
Charles Leavitt
Chris Metzen

Directed by

Duncan Jones



WHAT TO EXPECT

There was practically nothing to expect from Warcraft. To me, this could as well be yet another spectacular narrative failure of a video game adaptation, as have most video game adaptations been. The varied examples—from the abominable Super Mario Bros. to the gratuitously dragged-out Resident Evil movie franchise—are for everyone to see.

Except, this is a film directed by Duncan Jones.

Kicking off his career with two financially restricted, yet ridiculously ambitious, films—Moon and Source Code—Warcraft will be his third movie. That there is a gap of as many as five years between the 2011 Gyllenhaal starrer and the adaptation of the MMORPG is both obvious, and, if one’s to do their homework, unsurprising.

The idea of a Warcraft film began to form almost ten years ago. During most of the decade-long timeline, Sam Raimi was attached to direct. Eventually, however, he was ultimately replaced by Jones, who—in an attempt to be as faithful to the game as possible—took three years to make this film what I would get to see in a while. The dedication in itself made me curious. It was the only thing I held on to, considering my sparse, very basic knowledge of the game itself. Then again, I was also banking on my judgment of the film as a specific end-product.

And as the lights dimmed and the movie began, I realized that was a splendid idea.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Transported to the world of humans, the Orcs enter with plans to take lives and take over the world. Banding together are the King of the Stormwind kingdom (Dominic Cooper; Miss You Already), ruler of the humans Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel; television’s Vikings) and young mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer; The Book Thief). On their journey to protect the World humans inhabit, they find unlikely allies from the Orc world—Garona (Paula Patton; Deja Vu), and chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Durotan (Toby Kebbell; RocknRolla)—who help them find balance in perspective, if nothing else.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Protect

Protect

How much of an influence my clean slate (I managed to avoid as much visual promotion of the film as I could) was on my receptiveness of the movie, I may never know. What I do know, however, is that it isn’t just made by enthusiastic fans of the game; it’s made by a competent filmmaker who has two incredibly strong films behind him. The average human psyche, unfortunately thus, allows us to be hard on the director for writing and directing something as thematically and tonally different from his previous creations.

As is quite apparent, though, Warcraft is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

As do some films necessarily need to be. After all, we live in a world where variety in entertainment is essential, and every film must be appreciated within its spectrum. An action film like John Wick could, superficially, be written off as a generic cash cow. What the directors did with the movie, however, was to give it some degree of attention to detail. There was a phenomenal amount of world building, character establishment and arc written in that made the movie fuller, and a lot more entertaining than a lazier version of it could have been. Do the character’s in Leitch’s film make remotely practical decisions? No. But the makers manipulate you to give them your constant attention.

Jones’s latest does the same thing.

Survive

Survive

While Jones might be a die-hard fan of the franchise in itself, what brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness. The makers understand fully well how bizarre the elements of its source are, and just go with it. The orcs, magical superpowers, and color-coded portals; they all exist. Of course, none of these plot devices only just exist without justification. The Orcs, for example, receive their share of establishment. Their dying world is on display to its audience for a good five minutes—everything from the expanse, dystopia and dull future set up an image system that helps viewers understand where they’re coming from, and precisely why they need to teleport themselves to the world of the humans.

To visually achieve such an establishment, the director uses a dangerously precise stylistic method. The brilliant motion-capture aside, the modeling of the characters deliberately goes two steps backward on the realism factor. Viewers, thus, become hyper-aware of their difference from the humans, because the deliberate, yet teensy, lack of detail—the animation movie surrealism, if you may—doesn’t register in their minds as organic enough. Comparatively, and in a drastic difference from the “Orc world”, the segments focussing solely on the human world naturally look like your friendly neighborhood live-action fantasy film.

When the orcs and humans face each other, however, is when Jones’s vision and his clever usage of the aforementioned image systems pop. Blend them together, and you’ll realize just how visually bizarre the makers wanted the film to be. Sure, it’s not universally likable, but those who understand what the makers were truly going for would respect why the film looks the way it does, if not anything else. When the worlds clash, you’re able to see the differences (and similarities) between the two organisms, and everything slowly falls into place. You’re invested alright.

Maybe not emotionally, though.

What brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness.Ankit Ojha

You’re practically here to have a blast, and the movie gives you just that. That doesn’t, for a change, question how well-made the film is. Jones, fortunately, doesn’t dumb anything down. There’s an equal space given for both the Orcs and Stormwind’s kingdom. We are introduced to their respective processes—be it of battle, colonization—which the makers build upon and evolve as the plot progresses. The accurate world-building aside, we’re given solidly written character arcs of Durotan, Garona, and Lothar, with each receiving their own time to build and evolve. Garona’s, specifically, is an excellently developed female character. Her torn loyalties are rather well established, which is made use of brilliantly within the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

The movie isn’t without nits audiences could pick, though. While most of the makers’ attempts at humor have great timing, there is occasional awkwardness to be found. This could (as is overall seen) be a problem with the dialogue writing of the movie, the expository nature of which may not always hit the right spot. At the risk of repeating myself, the film doesn’t allow us to empathize with its characters on an emotional level. And this could lead to polarizing the audience into the type that just goes with the flow and the type that cannot invest in it at all. While the former will love the hyperkinetic, breathless pace, the brilliant world-building and character arcs, and the keyed-up fantasy in itself, the latter would think of it as a noisy, exhaustingly pointless exercise.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

Defend

Defend

If there’s any aspect of the film that wouldn’t have  many nits to pick, however, it would be the performances.

Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, and Dominic Cooper, who seem to take most of the film’s screen time, are brilliant. Fimmel coasts through Lothar’s anger and sarcasm as well as Cooper’s rather convincing portrayal of Stormwind’s King. Paula Patton, who is given one of the most elusive of the film’s characters, is a force of nature. Her expressive dynamics and body language accurately translate how torn just about anyone could feel when they’re perceptive enough to see both sides of the coin. Of the two Bens in the film, viewers are witness to a fantastic Foster, but it’s Schnetzer who is truly in control of the character he essays. Of course, there’s Daniel Wu as Gul’dan who’s as evil as should be. While the nature in itself isn’t a groundbreaking one, Wu’s energy and dedication can convince viewers to go with it. Anna Galvin is ferocious as Draka, and lastly, but not in the very least, there’s Ruth Negga, who has enough charm and grace to make her character—the Queen—feel as authentic as can be.

WORTH IT?

Warcraft, sure enough, is a well-made fantasy film that plays by its own set of rules. And in the world of mainstream filmmaking and disappointing film adaptations of video-games, this is a risqué move. And thus, if nothing else, Jones and the rest of the makers deserves respect for staying true to their vision of the movie— and a strong, consistent one at that.

It, however, is difficult to recommend this film, only because one can never know where each potential viewer of the movie stands. Fans of the game (mainly its first famous installment Orcs and Humans) have a higher chance of wholeheartedly accepting it. Audiences looking for an oversimplified popcorn fantasy, on the other hand, may not entirely be able to invest in the film.

I can implore everyone reading this review, however, to give this one an honest try, if only to know where you stand on the film. The dangerously specific visual style and bizarre CGI beautifully blend with the rest of the rather unhinged narrative—what with the attention-to-detail in its world building and character development that comprise it—that doesn’t compromise to be “mass-accepted” for better financial viability. The makers know what they want the end-product to look like, and it is their conviction in itself that makes an adaptation like Warcraft a filmmaker’s film.

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us

Cast Travis Fimmel
Toby Kebbell
Paula Patton
Director Duncan Jones
Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!

WHAT TO EXPECT

There was practically nothing to expect from Warcraft. To me, this could as well be yet another spectacular narrative failure of a video game adaptation, as have most video game adaptations been. The varied examples—from the abominable Super Mario Bros. to the gratuitously dragged-out Resident Evil movie franchise—are for everyone to see.

Except, this is a film directed by Duncan Jones.

Kicking off his career with two financially restricted, yet ridiculously ambitious, films—Moon and Source Code—Warcraft will be his third movie. That there is a gap of as many as five years between the 2011 Gyllenhaal starrer and the adaptation of the MMORPG is both obvious, and, if one’s to do their homework, unsurprising.

The idea of a Warcraft film began to form almost ten years ago. During most of the decade-long timeline, Sam Raimi was attached to direct. Eventually, however, he was ultimately replaced by Jones, who—in an attempt to be as faithful to the game as possible—took three years to make this film what I would get to see in a while. The dedication in itself made me curious. It was the only thing I held on to, considering my sparse, very basic knowledge of the game itself. Then again, I was also banking on my judgment of the film as a specific end-product.

And as the lights dimmed and the movie began, I realized that was a splendid idea.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Transported to the world of humans, the Orcs enter with plans to take lives and take over the world. Banding together are the King of the Stormwind kingdom (Dominic Cooper; Miss You Already), ruler of the humans Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel; television’s Vikings) and young mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer; The Book Thief). On their journey to protect the World humans inhabit, they find unlikely allies from the Orc world—Garona (Paula Patton; Deja Vu), and chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Durotan (Toby Kebbell; RocknRolla)—who help them find balance in perspective, if nothing else.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Protect

Protect

How much of an influence my clean slate (I managed to avoid as much visual promotion of the film as I could) was on my receptiveness of the movie, I may never know. What I do know, however, is that it isn’t just made by enthusiastic fans of the game; it’s made by a competent filmmaker who has two incredibly strong films behind him. The average human psyche, unfortunately thus, allows us to be hard on the director for writing and directing something as thematically and tonally different from his previous creations.

As is quite apparent, though, Warcraft is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

As do some films necessarily need to be. After all, we live in a world where variety in entertainment is essential, and every film must be appreciated within its spectrum. An action film like John Wick could, superficially, be written off as a generic cash cow. What the directors did with the movie, however, was to give it some degree of attention to detail. There was a phenomenal amount of world building, character establishment and arc written in that made the movie fuller, and a lot more entertaining than a lazier version of it could have been. Do the character’s in Leitch’s film make remotely practical decisions? No. But the makers manipulate you to give them your constant attention.

Jones’s latest does the same thing.

Survive

Survive

While Jones might be a die-hard fan of the franchise in itself, what brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness. The makers understand fully well how bizarre the elements of its source are, and just go with it. The orcs, magical superpowers, and color-coded portals; they all exist. Of course, none of these plot devices only just exist without justification. The Orcs, for example, receive their share of establishment. Their dying world is on display to its audience for a good five minutes—everything from the expanse, dystopia and dull future set up an image system that helps viewers understand where they’re coming from, and precisely why they need to teleport themselves to the world of the humans.

To visually achieve such an establishment, the director uses a dangerously precise stylistic method. The brilliant motion-capture aside, the modeling of the characters deliberately goes two steps backward on the realism factor. Viewers, thus, become hyper-aware of their difference from the humans, because the deliberate, yet teensy, lack of detail—the animation movie surrealism, if you may—doesn’t register in their minds as organic enough. Comparatively, and in a drastic difference from the “Orc world”, the segments focussing solely on the human world naturally look like your friendly neighborhood live-action fantasy film.

When the orcs and humans face each other, however, is when Jones’s vision and his clever usage of the aforementioned image systems pop. Blend them together, and you’ll realize just how visually bizarre the makers wanted the film to be. Sure, it’s not universally likable, but those who understand what the makers were truly going for would respect why the film looks the way it does, if not anything else. When the worlds clash, you’re able to see the differences (and similarities) between the two organisms, and everything slowly falls into place. You’re invested alright.

Maybe not emotionally, though.

What brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness.Ankit Ojha

You’re practically here to have a blast, and the movie gives you just that. That doesn’t, for a change, question how well-made the film is. Jones, fortunately, doesn’t dumb anything down. There’s an equal space given for both the Orcs and Stormwind’s kingdom. We are introduced to their respective processes—be it of battle, colonization—which the makers build upon and evolve as the plot progresses. The accurate world-building aside, we’re given solidly written character arcs of Durotan, Garona, and Lothar, with each receiving their own time to build and evolve. Garona’s, specifically, is an excellently developed female character. Her torn loyalties are rather well established, which is made use of brilliantly within the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

The movie isn’t without nits audiences could pick, though. While most of the makers’ attempts at humor have great timing, there is occasional awkwardness to be found. This could (as is overall seen) be a problem with the dialogue writing of the movie, the expository nature of which may not always hit the right spot. At the risk of repeating myself, the film doesn’t allow us to empathize with its characters on an emotional level. And this could lead to polarizing the audience into the type that just goes with the flow and the type that cannot invest in it at all. While the former will love the hyperkinetic, breathless pace, the brilliant world-building and character arcs, and the keyed-up fantasy in itself, the latter would think of it as a noisy, exhaustingly pointless exercise.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

Defend

Defend

If there’s any aspect of the film that wouldn’t have  many nits to pick, however, it would be the performances.

Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, and Dominic Cooper, who seem to take most of the film’s screen time, are brilliant. Fimmel coasts through Lothar’s anger and sarcasm as well as Cooper’s rather convincing portrayal of Stormwind’s King. Paula Patton, who is given one of the most elusive of the film’s characters, is a force of nature. Her expressive dynamics and body language accurately translate how torn just about anyone could feel when they’re perceptive enough to see both sides of the coin. Of the two Bens in the film, viewers are witness to a fantastic Foster, but it’s Schnetzer who is truly in control of the character he essays. Of course, there’s Daniel Wu as Gul’dan who’s as evil as should be. While the nature in itself isn’t a groundbreaking one, Wu’s energy and dedication can convince viewers to go with it. Anna Galvin is ferocious as Draka, and lastly, but not in the very least, there’s Ruth Negga, who has enough charm and grace to make her character—the Queen—feel as authentic as can be.

WORTH IT?

Warcraft, sure enough, is a well-made fantasy film that plays by its own set of rules. And in the world of mainstream filmmaking and disappointing film adaptations of video-games, this is a risqué move. And thus, if nothing else, Jones and the rest of the makers deserves respect for staying true to their vision of the movie— and a strong, consistent one at that.

It, however, is difficult to recommend this film, only because one can never know where each potential viewer of the movie stands. Fans of the game (mainly its first famous installment Orcs and Humans) have a higher chance of wholeheartedly accepting it. Audiences looking for an oversimplified popcorn fantasy, on the other hand, may not entirely be able to invest in the film.

I can implore everyone reading this review, however, to give this one an honest try, if only to know where you stand on the film. The dangerously specific visual style and bizarre CGI beautifully blend with the rest of the rather unhinged narrative—what with the attention-to-detail in its world building and character development that comprise it—that doesn’t compromise to be “mass-accepted” for better financial viability. The makers know what they want the end-product to look like, and it is their conviction in itself that makes an adaptation like Warcraft a filmmaker’s film.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

We’re viral

Like usFollow us
Cast Travis Fimmel
Toby Kebbell
Paula Patton
Director Duncan Jones
Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!

WHAT TO EXPECT

There was practically nothing to expect from Warcraft. To me, this could as well be yet another spectacular narrative failure of a video game adaptation, as have most video game adaptations been. The varied examples—from the abominable Super Mario Bros. to the gratuitously dragged-out Resident Evil movie franchise—are for everyone to see.

Except, this is a film directed by Duncan Jones.

Kicking off his career with two financially restricted, yet ridiculously ambitious, films—Moon and Source Code—Warcraft will be his third movie. That there is a gap of as many as five years between the 2011 Gyllenhaal starrer and the adaptation of the MMORPG is both obvious, and, if one’s to do their homework, unsurprising.

The idea of a Warcraft film began to form almost ten years ago. During most of the decade-long timeline, Sam Raimi was attached to direct. Eventually, however, he was ultimately replaced by Jones, who—in an attempt to be as faithful to the game as possible—took three years to make this film what I would get to see in a while. The dedication in itself made me curious. It was the only thing I held on to, considering my sparse, very basic knowledge of the game itself. Then again, I was also banking on my judgment of the film as a specific end-product.

And as the lights dimmed and the movie began, I realized that was a splendid idea.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Transported to the world of humans, the Orcs enter with plans to take lives and take over the world. Banding together are the King of the Stormwind kingdom (Dominic Cooper; Miss You Already), ruler of the humans Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel; television’s Vikings) and young mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer; The Book Thief). On their journey to protect the World humans inhabit, they find unlikely allies from the Orc world—Garona (Paula Patton; Deja Vu), and chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Durotan (Toby Kebbell; RocknRolla)—who help them find balance in perspective, if nothing else.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Protect

How much of an influence my clean slate (I managed to avoid as much visual promotion of the film as I could) was on my receptiveness of the movie, I may never know. What I do know, however, is that it isn’t just made by enthusiastic fans of the game; it’s made by a competent filmmaker who has two incredibly strong films behind him. The average human psyche, unfortunately thus, allows us to be hard on the director for writing and directing something as thematically and tonally different from his previous creations.

As is quite apparent, though, Warcraft is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

As do some films necessarily need to be. After all, we live in a world where variety in entertainment is essential, and every film must be appreciated within its spectrum. An action film like John Wick could, superficially, be written off as a generic cash cow. What the directors did with the movie, however, was to give it some degree of attention to detail. There was a phenomenal amount of world building, character establishment and arc written in that made the movie fuller, and a lot more entertaining than a lazier version of it could have been. Do the character’s in Leitch’s film make remotely practical decisions? No. But the makers manipulate you to give them your constant attention.

Jones’s latest does the same thing.

Survive

While Jones might be a die-hard fan of the franchise in itself, what brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness. The makers understand fully well how bizarre the elements of its source are, and just go with it. The orcs, magical superpowers, and color-coded portals; they all exist. Of course, none of these plot devices only just exist without justification. The Orcs, for example, receive their share of establishment. Their dying world is on display to its audience for a good five minutes—everything from the expanse, dystopia and dull future set up an image system that helps viewers understand where they’re coming from, and precisely why they need to teleport themselves to the world of the humans.

To visually achieve such an establishment, the director uses a dangerously precise stylistic method. The brilliant motion-capture aside, the modeling of the characters deliberately goes two steps backward on the realism factor. Viewers, thus, become hyper-aware of their difference from the humans, because the deliberate, yet teensy, lack of detail—the animation movie surrealism, if you may—doesn’t register in their minds as organic enough. Comparatively, and in a drastic difference from the “Orc world”, the segments focussing solely on the human world naturally look like your friendly neighborhood live-action fantasy film.

When the orcs and humans face each other, however, is when Jones’s vision and his clever usage of the aforementioned image systems pop. Blend them together, and you’ll realize just how visually bizarre the makers wanted the film to be. Sure, it’s not universally likable, but those who understand what the makers were truly going for would respect why the film looks the way it does, if not anything else. When the worlds clash, you’re able to see the differences (and similarities) between the two organisms, and everything slowly falls into place. You’re invested alright.

Maybe not emotionally, though.

What brings the film together may not be its (possible) faithfulness to the games, but its acute self-awareness.Ankit Ojha

You’re practically here to have a blast, and the movie gives you just that. That doesn’t, for a change, question how well-made the film is. Jones, fortunately, doesn’t dumb anything down. There’s an equal space given for both the Orcs and Stormwind’s kingdom. We are introduced to their respective processes—be it of battle, colonization—which the makers build upon and evolve as the plot progresses. The accurate world-building aside, we’re given solidly written character arcs of Durotan, Garona, and Lothar, with each receiving their own time to build and evolve. Garona’s, specifically, is an excellently developed female character. Her torn loyalties are rather well established, which is made use of brilliantly within the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

The movie isn’t without nits audiences could pick, though. While most of the makers’ attempts at humor have great timing, there is occasional awkwardness to be found. This could (as is overall seen) be a problem with the dialogue writing of the movie, the expository nature of which may not always hit the right spot. At the risk of repeating myself, the film doesn’t allow us to empathize with its characters on an emotional level. And this could lead to polarizing the audience into the type that just goes with the flow and the type that cannot invest in it at all. While the former will love the hyperkinetic, breathless pace, the brilliant world-building and character arcs, and the keyed-up fantasy in itself, the latter would think of it as a noisy, exhaustingly pointless exercise.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

Defend

If there’s any aspect of the film that wouldn’t have  many nits to pick, however, it would be the performances.

Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, and Dominic Cooper, who seem to take most of the film’s screen time, are brilliant. Fimmel coasts through Lothar’s anger and sarcasm as well as Cooper’s rather convincing portrayal of Stormwind’s King. Paula Patton, who is given one of the most elusive of the film’s characters, is a force of nature. Her expressive dynamics and body language accurately translate how torn just about anyone could feel when they’re perceptive enough to see both sides of the coin. Of the two Bens in the film, viewers are witness to a fantastic Foster, but it’s Schnetzer who is truly in control of the character he essays. Of course, there’s Daniel Wu as Gul’dan who’s as evil as should be. While the nature in itself isn’t a groundbreaking one, Wu’s energy and dedication can convince viewers to go with it. Anna Galvin is ferocious as Draka, and lastly, but not in the very least, there’s Ruth Negga, who has enough charm and grace to make her character—the Queen—feel as authentic as can be.

WORTH IT?

Warcraft, sure enough, is a well-made fantasy film that plays by its own set of rules. And in the world of mainstream filmmaking and disappointing film adaptations of video-games, this is a risqué move. And thus, if nothing else, Jones and the rest of the makers deserves respect for staying true to their vision of the movie— and a strong, consistent one at that.

It, however, is difficult to recommend this film, only because one can never know where each potential viewer of the movie stands. Fans of the game (mainly its first famous installment Orcs and Humans) have a higher chance of wholeheartedly accepting it. Audiences looking for an oversimplified popcorn fantasy, on the other hand, may not entirely be able to invest in the film.

I can implore everyone reading this review, however, to give this one an honest try, if only to know where you stand on the film. The dangerously specific visual style and bizarre CGI beautifully blend with the rest of the rather unhinged narrative—what with the attention-to-detail in its world building and character development that comprise it—that doesn’t compromise to be “mass-accepted” for better financial viability. The makers know what they want the end-product to look like, and it is their conviction in itself that makes an adaptation like Warcraft a filmmaker’s film.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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