I will admit, I knew going into the theater, that I was not the target audience. I am one of maybe .000001% who has never even played the game (which led the group I went with to label me, “The Infidel”). That being said, I have a certain metric that I measure films by: is there a good plot? Is the acting noteworthy? Do the special effects blend seamlessly into actual scenery; impressive but not overbearing? Does the action keep me engaged?
For this Infidel, the answers to those questions are: no, it doesn’t have a good plot. It’s a fairly standard fantasy movie, with good guys in shiny armor and blue, positive rays of magic fighting big bad orcs in possession of the Fell, evil magic that destroys everything it comes in contact with it. It has destroyed the orcs’ homeland, and has started infesting the orcs themselves (which is how the orcs turned green). There is one good clan of orcs, the Frost Wolf, led by Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and Draka (Anna Galvin), his pregnant wife. He does not like The Fell, nor the Orc mage Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) who unleashed it on the homeworld and now wants to unleash it on Azeroth (a place that looks like earth, but with better special effects).
The people of Azeroth have been at peace for generations under the leadership of King Llane (Dominic Cooper) and Lady Taria (I let out a hearty but most inappropriate cheer: it’s Preacher and Tulip, reunited! Now if only Cassidy had been there, I might have enjoyed the movie a whole lot more). While Lady Taria’s brother Lothar (Travis Fimmel) encounters the fearsome orcs, he goes to warn the king. Also on the way to warn the king is a young renegade mage named Khadgar (Ben Scnetzer), who provides the only bit of comic relief the film has and so desperately needed.
The King orders Lothar and Khadgar to summon the Guardian, Medivh (Ben Foster), the mage charged with protecting Azeroth and keeping evil like the Fell out. It doesn’t take long to figure out that there’s something not right about Medivh; maybe the scene in which Medivh drops a magical shield between Lothar’s army and the orcs, but oops! He leaves Lothar’s son outside of this shield.
Into this convoluted mess comes Garona (Paula Patton), a half-orc who was a slave to Gul’dan. She’s not too thrilled to be captured by humans, but after googly-eyed exchanges with Lothar, she comes around.
I admit, it by this point in the movie, I was bored. I had pretty much figured out where the “plot” was headed, and was not impressed because it certainly wasn’t the most original of plots, even within the cheesiest of cheesy fantasy films theatergoers were bombarded with in the 1980’s. I decided to just sit back and look at the amazing special effects and CGI, which was the true star of this film. (This is further emphasized by having the cast list scroll by after the names of the dozens of artists, CGI specialists, and prosthetics people have appeared on-screen).
After the ordeal, I mean movie ended, I asked my young diehard fan what he thought. He said, “They did a great job of bringing the graphics of the game onto the big screen, and they stayed faithful to the lore. That’s what I was looking forward to.” He gave the movie 7 out of 10. The movie has gotten mixed reviews amongst critics and some fans even. It’s only 29% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and the Critic’s Consensus on RT is thus: “Warcraft has visual thrills to spare, but they — and director Duncan Jones’ distinctive gifts — are wasted on a sluggish and derivative adaptation of a bestselling game with little evident cinematic value.” I think that rather sums up my opinion quite nicely. The box office numbers don’t look so rosy either, with an intake of 7.2 million, which is below The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2. (Word has it that the film is doing better at overseas box offices). Even the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has fared better than Warcraft.
But, don’t take it from me. I am, after all, the Infidel.