Monday, June 13, 2016

Looking at Movies (First Run) - Warcraft (2016)

In this review, I am not going to discuss actors or directors because they were insignificant in the telling of the story. What I do want to talk about is when movie studios decide to make movies based on wildly popular video games, and then don't let the rest of the world in on the story. If you wanted to enjoy the movie Warcraft, you must have experience with the game World of Warcraft for at least a little while. The fans of the video game will argue that point, but that is only because the game is second nature to them.

There is a right way and a wrong way to tell a story based on video game or book that already exists. The right way is to assume that no one knows the game or book, and you spend time establishing your fantasy realm and allowing everyone to get involved in the story. The wrong way is to assume that the tens of millions of people who play the game or have read the book will be your only audience, so you can gloss over the foundation of the story and get right to specifics. Warcraft chooses the latter, and it is a huge mistake.

The simple truth is that if you do not have the basic foundation in World of Warcraft that comes with playing the game for years, then you are probably not going to have a clue as to what is going on in this movie. There are some instances where the story gets set up to a certain extent, but there aren't enough of those moments and the ones that exist are way too vague. I never played World of Warcraft, so I have no idea what an Ork is. Of course, not being familiar with World of Warcraft and being pretty old, my first thought was of Mork from Ork. But these guys were not running around making cute noises and saying "nanu, nanu." They were brutal beings that were crushing their opponents...well, some of them were. Some Orks acted differently, although I am not sure why.

I expect that if we get any dissenting opinions from people about this review it will be come from people who have played the game and had an understanding of the Warcraft universe before the movie even started. They may insist that they never played Warcraft and that I am just panning a good movie, but the only emotional attachment anyone would have to this movie is if they loved the game and want the movie to succeed. So, yes, you played or play World of Warcraft. It's okay, because this movie was meant for you.

The movie sets up conflicts it never resolves, obviously leaving the door wide open for a sequel or two that has probably already been started. Good guys turn to bad guys after being possessed by some force that we are never really introduced to, and then they become good guys again because apparently this force leaves the body as it is dying, conveniently leaving just enough time for the bad guy to turn into a good guy again and save some of his friends. It is all extremely confusing, but also cliche at the same time.

In Warcraft, things just happen that are never explained because the target audience already knows the story. If you are not part of that target audience, you won't get it. You may even get bored part of the way through this movie because, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Warcraft was only made for fans and players of World of Warcraft. If you are not part of that crowd, then I suggest you don't bother.

Rating: 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III does not play World of Warcraft and is not ashamed to say it. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at