I always like to see a video game adapted into a film…but not like this! It seems like bad luck that films keep trying to adapt games that either shouldn’t be adapted or ones that should be adapted…in 20 years. I get that World of Warcraft is a very popular video game, but I’ve never cared much for it and I don’t think it ever had a whole lot of movie potential. People will inevitably compare it to Lord of the Rings and it’ll fall short since everyone already has the nostalgia goggles on. Then we’ve got Assassin’s Creed….this isn’t the kind of representation of video games that I wanted. Where’s Mega Man, Mario, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Gravity Rush, or the really cool looking video games like that? The films keep on choosing the most realistic ones possible as I guess they feel this is the safe route, but it’s backfiring horribly. Wait…they already tried making a Super Mario Bros film? Nah….you must be mistaken, I’m sure I’d remember Princess Peach making her way to the big screen or that iconic Bowser design if the film had happened. Must have just been a mistake.
Anyway, Warcraft deals with two worlds coming together to avoid calamity. On one side, we have the world of the Trolls. Their world has grown desolate and soon it will be completely unlivable. To combat this, they have decided to invade the human world and eradicate all of the mortals. On the human side, they see that the Trolls are attacking and decide to slay them all. There can be no peace here, only war and destruction. Which side will emerge victorious here?
This film has a lot of problems, but action isn’t one of them. There’s a lot of action throughout as you’ll see people punching and tackling each other. A lot of guys are stabbed and it definitely feels like a war. I don’t care much for war fight scenes and prefer the classic 1 on 1’s. This doesn’t help to change my opinion of that, but considering that War is in the title, I knew what to expect from the get go. The CGI and overall special effects for the film aren’t bad. In the rare scenes where we actually get to see energy attacks and video game techniques, they hold up quite well. We get mythical monsters and fantasy backdrops that also fit in seamlessly.
The rest of the film is where Warcraft stumbles a bit. Lets talk about the characters. Gul’dan is the main villain of the film. He’s the corrupt leader of the Orcs (Trolls) and ensures that there is no peace. After all, you can’t make peace with a nation that’s trying to destroy you right? He rules with fear and is the only Orc to actually have special powers. He can drain your life force by making contact with an opponent and has a good array of energy blasts as well. This makes up for not being the strongest Orc on the battlefield. It’s really impossible for any character to beat him without plot hax and that’s a bit of an issue. The only way the film gets around this is by having the other Orcs pressure Gul’dan into retreating for honor reasons. He never loses and I guess this sets things up for the sequel. He was a pretty imposing villain and I suppose that I didn’t mind him being the big bad. I wish he would just get on with it though and I don’t see why he should even care about the Orcs liking him or not. His whole gimmick is that he rules by fear so if they start rebelling, can’t he just slay them all?
Lothar is the main hero on the human side. His character arc is pretty tragic as he decides to trust Garona and is then betrayed at the very end. He’s a pretty strong warrior and is headstrong. Lothar acts like a main character should for the most part. He can be a little generic and maybe not all that reasonable at other times, but he can handle himself in a fight and the humans wouldn’t have much of a chance without him. Llane is the more reasonable character, but at the same time he goes for the more conventional ideas. He decides on a full scale war against the Orcs and this doesn’t go well at all. He then makes a rather selfless decision to have Garona murder him so she can get out of there alive, but it’s also basically suicide since he’s asking to be murdered. You always got to fight until the bitter end even if the odds are stacked against you. The ending did not help him.
I actually place more of the blame on Garona though. Accepting this option shows that she put more value on her life than on Llane’s. Essentially, she was willing to continue existing at the expense of someone else. Lothar took this as a betrayal since he didn’t know the context, but it may as well have been one even with it. She was tasked with protecting Llane and she failed. Durotan is the main protagonist of the Orcs, but he is forced to work for Gul’dan the whole time. It’s a pretty tough film for Durotan since he doesn’t get the clan any closer to peace and is ultimately murdered in front of everyone. He put up a good fight, but was clearly outmatched thanks to the magic amplifications that Gul’dan had and it felt like his journey was rather pointless. He made some nice speeches, but since he had no control over the clan, it didn’t help much. He did inadvertently save the humans by getting the Orcs to doubt their leader though.
As this is Warcraft, there were other sub plots as well. One of the human’s strongest magicians was actually a traitor and ended up joining the villains. It was either his overconfidence that led the evil magic to slowly corrupting him or he was just a bad seed the entire time. Regardless, it was a huge blow to the humans since they need all of the magicians that they can get. They have another apprentice guy who wants to help out now, but that’s just a consolation. Honestly though, the humans should be doomed in this war. They now only have 1 guy with powers on their side while the Orcs have a few. That being said, the ending shows that there are many other factions of humans who will be helping now. Where were they the whole time? Who knows, I guess it just wasn’t their fight. Ironically the human mage sub plot was probably the most out of place, but also the most interesting part of the film.
The part of the film that will end up leaving a sour taste in your mouth is really the ending. Seeing Garona just accept the life and be accepted back to her people was a rather mean spirited way to end things. Now nobody gets along and tensions are even higher. It also feels like absolutely nothing was accomplished in this film. You should think of it as a promo to encourage you to play the game, but that doesn’t work so well as a large feature film. Especially if you were never interested to play the game in the first place. As the writing is also lackluster, it never really had a chance of getting you interested in playing the game.
There is also some iffy animal violence moments here. It sadly comes with the territory of war films as people ride horses and even birds into battle. It’s not a huge occurrence here, but enough so where it warrants a mention. It’s not as if things could have gotten much worse for the film though right? It was already rather boring and convoluted without a good ending so adding the animal violence is like the cherry on top.
Overall, Warcraft is a very generic fantasy war film. It’s just the same old Humans vs Orc battles that we’ve seen in LOTR and the Hobbit already. This film doesn’t really add anything to that. There’s not much reason to watch this film and since an ending is super important, having a bad one hurts the film all the more. I doubt this film will be getting a sequel anyway so it’s not as if the cliffhangers will be resolved anytime soon. If you’re a big fan of the games then you’re basically obligated to watch this one. If not, then I’d recommend just sticking away from it.