Warcraft Directed by Duncan Jones
Published Jun 09, 2016Finding a good movie based on a videogame is kind of like looking for a unicorn: they don't exist, so you might as well stop trying.
So yes, bad news for MMORPG fans: Blizzard Entertainment's first big budget action adventure, Warcraft, wasn't worth the wait (the project was first announced back in 2006), and makes too many major misfires to make it a suggested watch both for hardcore fans and casual fantasy enthusiasts.
Blizzard have always taken pride in their games having a cinematic flair, so it shouldn't be too surprising that Warcraft is on-point visually (even though initial trailers made people wrongly assume otherwise). It's kind of like watching one of the company's old cut scenes on salvia, with everything having a vibrant hue, slimy texture and cartoonish feel. That's good for fans of 3D — although the story never fully pops off the screen, it's hard not get lost in the surreal dream world director Duncan Jones (of indie smash Moon fame) and his team have created. That being said, that's about all Warcraft has going for it.
The videogame franchise has come a long way since it first lit up PC screens back in 1994, expanding online (thanks to World of Warcraft and its many expansions) and creating a world filled with endless adventures and possibilities populated by the people who created it and the people who play it. So it's strange that Blizzard's first major film adaptation finds them back at square one, story-wise.
Warcraft is centered on two species in battle: orcs and humans. Other creatures occasionally enter the fray — dwarves and elfin creatures among them — but don't spend much time on screen (probably to the frustration of super fans who know more than just the base character types). It makes for a pretty black and white story (thematically, ideas of lightness and darkness also play a major role leading up to the film's climax), even though Jones and Charles Leavitt (one of the screenwriters behind the shudder-inducing Seventh Son, a 2015 fantasy film that was similarly locked in cinematic purgatory) try to add some depth by making the boundaries between good and evil a little murky.
Amazingly, Jones manages to make this epic pretty personal, injecting a major plot point into the story about a silent sickness stripping the life force from the world of Warcraft's inhabitants (his wife, as well as his father David Bowie, battled cancer while he was working on the movie). It's one of the few likeable aspects of this two-hour slog, and further proof that what videogame adaptations of this nature really need is more personality.