Is Warcraft inaccessible to everyone but die hard fans?
I have only a tangential relationship to the Warcraft universe. I play Hearthstone religiously, I’m familiar with the Warcraft strategy games and World of Warcraft, though I’ve never played either, I liked StarCraft way more though that doesn’t really factor into this discussion. What drew me to this movie was watching a well-developed fantasy epic, with fleshed out characters and big moments. I got none of those things and instead was left bewildered with little sense of plot or why these characters matter.
The biggest drawback is the narrative as the film spends much of its time jumping between characters as they work towards the goals of stopping the Orc invasion … well maybe, there’s also the plight of the Frostwolf Clan who is invading, but has some serious reservations about what’s going on. There’s also a female half-orc that just wants to belong. Also there’s the ancient magic user, Medivh (a name I recognize), who protects the realm, but something seems a little funny about him. Then there’s a side-story of a father/son relationship, another magic user who left the academy for unknown reasons, and Moses story with an Orc baby. That’s a lot to cover in a two-hour movie.
Here’s what I think the movie is about: Fel magic is bad and corrupts just about anything that touches it. So every character should in some way be working towards stopping the spread of fel magic by the necromancer type Orc called Gul’dan (the only other name I recognize).
So if that’s what the plot should be then why do we spend so much time not actually following that arc? I understand the idea is to build these character backstories, but usually films do it in such a way where it feels natural and the backstory flows into the overarching narrative. It’s a movie where every time an ounce of momentum is built towards something it gets sidetracked by talking about something else.
And for as much time as we spend learning about these characters I never once felt something for them. Also a lot of them die, and I mean a lot of main characters die. So if we aren’t gaining a connection and there’s nothing to follow-up on because they are dead, then what was the point of learning about them at all? It’s like we watched a film history film without context and it only featured the footnotes.
Yet the movie isn’t bad. It’s beautifully shot, the characters are interesting to look at, and the action sequences have a weight that keeps them grounded in reality. There’s even a really nice moment where the different races are communicating through a translator and the audio flips to highlight the differences in language. There are a lot of neat tricks the film produces that keeps one engaged throughout. It just means the movie also isn’t any good.
Warcraft is flat-out confusing. It’s a weird origin story tied together with a morality play that’s also a video game adaptation that attempts to pull all the lore of the Warcraft games into a single film. By attempting to do so much the films suffers by offering too little in the way of basic storytelling. Thus, leaving me the viewer with a muddled mess of a viewing experience.
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