The general consensus floating around the internet appears to be that fans are lapping up what Warcraft has to offer, while the rest of scratch our heads as we dip a toe into this ocean of lore. By being the most diplomatic (and perhaps boring) individual, I fall nicely into the middle of this argument. Though there is clearly fan service on show in this fantasy epic, those are moment that definitely do not detach mainstream viewers. Instead, it’s simple storytelling at fault once again that leaves Warcraft as one of the best video game adaptations, but a mantle that doesn’t mean all that much.
For those who were never a subscriber to the biggest MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) game of all time (or fans of the Warcraft franchise as a whole), let me briefly enlighten you. Draenor, the home world of the Orc race is dying, and the warlock Gul’dan is leading the remaining survivors of the horde through a portal to the land of Azeroth. One of those orcs is Durotan (Toby Kebbell), a clan chieftan who travels through the portal in the initial war party to take the land for his brothers (and his pregnant wife). However, he soon realises the magic used to get them to Azeroth (known as Fel magic) killed their world and will do the same to this one. He therefore faces the dilemma of whether he should betray the horde and help the human race defeat Gul’dan, or potentially risk another world dying at their hands.
The opening shot of Durotan staring into the camera in front or a roaring fire is there to show off the CGI on show that comes heavy in the film, and it’s an impressive moment. I preempted fears of being unable to familarise and furthermore sympathise with the orcs in the film, but if anything I found it easier than many of the human characters. If anything, the CGI helped hide some wooden acting and instead made them seem, ironically, very human in their emotions. In general the CGI of the film is impressive and deservedly applauded, especially when I can’t applaud much else.
That’s because the rest of the film gets a little messy about the halfway mark. After the first act I actually found myself excited. However the initial intensity of the film is diluted quite quickly with the introduction of characters that for me, the film could have really done without. Whether they were introduced for fan service or not I cannot say, but the role of the guardian and therefore the related side-story is a huge and convoluted distraction. That’s exacerbated even more so by this Fel magic, an unexplained Mcguffin that is overtly important to the plot but not exactly explained why that is
Alongside the necessity of the Guardian, a mysterious shadow figure and a few Orc traditions I was left to assume that these were things that fans may have had prior knowledge towards and therefore understood more, but otherwise I thought they made little to no sense. A simplified plot with fewer characters and intricacies would have worked much better, but I never expected that of a film that was part made by Blizzard themselves. In all, Warcraft is enjoyable at best but away from a visual splendor I have to agree with the critics over the fans. With much of the final act leaving things open and unanswered with hopes of a sequel, my closure to this tale was fractured and rather than leave me wanting more, left me bitter at many questions I had that remain unanswered.