The RPG Scrollbars: Warcraft

The Warcraft movie hasn’t exactly been drowning in plaudits after its premiere… to which I wasn’t invited, so I’m typing this in a Frankie and Benny’s immediately after my local cinema’s first non-midnight screening because hahahaha, no. That’s how devoted I am to timeliness: a bit! But, as a long-time player of World of Warcraft who actually plays for stuff like the story and the PvE content, I still held out hope. If it simply wasn’t for others, as the mood seemed, might it be for me?

Answers as soon as I order this burger. Bacon, lettuce, no cheese…

So, I liked the movie. I liked the movie a lot. But I can see exactly why a lot of people didn’t, and it really is the dividing line between ‘good movie’ and, well, ‘movie I liked’. In addition to having played a lot of World of Warcraft, I’ve seen almost every game-to-movie conversion, and this one is light-years ahead of basically all of them for one simple reason – it wants to exist. Generally, movies based on games are ashamed of their source material and do their best to get away from it as fast as humanly possible. There’s a couple of exceptions, like Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat and Silent Hill, to various degrees of success, but they’re dwarfed by how often someone looks at the likes of Hitman and goes “But what if he had a girlfriend?

The Warcraft movie is made of love. It drips from every frame. Every background. Every piece of armour. Every little detail in every scene. This movie simply couldn’t have been made without that fastidious attention and drive to recreate this world to the absolute edge of what the budget can do. There’s a few tweaks here and there to lore, like Khadgar no longer being Medivh’s apprentice, and the orc who will be Thrall getting the full-on Moses treatment far earlier than originally. Garona’s backstory is the most changed, now completely redone and simplified to make her more sympathetic. Overall though, they’re very small, don’t change the big picture much, and are visibly in the service of telling the story rather than just casually rewriting established lore.

Most importantly, it finds a middle-ground between the two factions early on, with very little forced drama or frustrating misunderstandings to carry the story… occasionally to the point that it starts feeling unrealistic just how damn reasonable everybody is and that all of this is actually going to lead to great wars instead of just one big skirmish, a polite meeting, and maybe the parcelling out of a little bit of land somewhere. I hear Mount Hyjal is quite pleasant this time of year. The humans of Stormwind are peaceful, respectful, willing to hear anyone out, and capable of putting the blame where it belongs, even when flaring up in anger. On the orc-side, Durotan especially is shown as honourable to a fault, and the whole Horde torn between its old ideals and Gul’dan’s new wave of destructive Fel magic corrupting both their traditions and their future. Both sides though are treated as smart, worthy adversaries, whether it’s the humans working out tactics or the Frostwolves trying to handle warband politics.

Occasionally, they even get too smart for the movie itself, coming up with a plan so effective that the next scene has to quickly pretend that never happened. Doomhammer talking Gul’dan out of making the Frostwolves go green through Fel magic? Uh. Look over there! Did you see the flying monkey!? Then, later: Humiliate him in front of his army to turn all the orcs against him? Great plan, and- oh, look, the flying monkey’s back! And he brought one of the movie’s suspiciously sharp edit-cuts!

But those are details. For the most part, this is a beautifully made, lovingly produced conversion. It’s one of the few that do its source material honour, it tells the story as the creators wrote it without being so stuck to the details that it can’t work as a film, while keeping things simple enough that, bar a bit of difficulty telling orcs apart at times, new audiences shouldn’t find it hard to follow.

So… uh… what went wrong?

It’s tough to put my finger on it, but at heart… it’s not a fun movie. It’s so self-important, so po-faced, so desperate to be worthy. At times… and by god, do not mistake this for a comment on its quality… it made me think of the movie version of Battlefield Earth, and its quivering terror at being seen as ‘squirreling’ the original source. The Passion Of The Christ would tell Warcraft: The Beginning to maybe chill out a little. Throw in a few more character scenes. Establish some proper chemistry in a bit of downtime.

But no. Everyone in this movie is there to be a dramatic puzzle piece first, a character second. With very few exceptions, Khadgar and Lothar ultimately working out what movie they’re in, there’s no sense of camaraderie, no humour, no banter. This might fit Warcraft, but let’s face it, this is a World of Warcraft movie, and the World of Warcraft is a fairly goofy place. I’m not saying that it should have been about an adventuring party cracking wise and cracking skulls, or god forbid, have had a comic relief character. But there’s a reason why comic relief is called ‘relief’, especially in a long movie. A few gnome airships, a bit more friendship, or taking the stick out of Dominic Cooper’s ass and making King Llane Wrynn be someone with the charisma to lead a doomed empire back from the brink of destruction might have made all the difference.

What makes it all the more noticeable is that as much as the movie deeply cares about depicting this first great battle between orcs and humans, it offers very little reason for the average viewer to. We see lots of Azeroth from establishing shots, but really nothing of the orc campaign up close. We’re given no sense of a great culture about to take it in the face for the next few years. Aside from one dwarf shown in the intro to set up a Chekhov’s gun (that, like a lot of what gets set up, never really fires) and the occasional shot of a Night Elf or whatever around a table, the entire of Azeroth is represented by basically five humans. Who cares? I’ve played this series since the 90s, and I was struggling to give a damn as everyone beamed around, fighting an inherently losing battle with no care for establishing things like geography or scale.

Instead, for much of it I was pondering how well Marvel has done at not simply making movies of its properties, but bringing people into its crazily complex world. In particular, Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, I’m not saying that should have been the template; that the movie needed wise-cracks and banter and so on. But what it did desperately need was that sense of friendship, of pushing against impossible odds, of presenting the Warcraft universe as not simply a place of deep lore, but a wonderous place where magic and adventure can happen. Or, alternatively, consider The Hobbit – a story that allows everyone to dip their toes into Middle Earth before diving into Lord of the Rings.

You need a connection to a world before you can truly care about it. Warcraft just assumes one, and while it gets the nature of the place very well, it’s too cold to give that familiarity any real emotional resonance. Seeing Stormwind on the big screen should be amazing. The Dark Portal. Ironforge. Karazhan. Westfall. And for a moment, in those establishing shots, it is. But then, we’re done. They’re just places; backgrounds rather than settings, and those narrative pieces pretending to be characters visibly composited on top rather than seeming to be living, breathing places. Moreover, they’re places that don’t appreciate the reasons that they’re so beloved – the warmth of the Forge, the craziness of Karazhan, and the memories and meaning that players have instilled into them over the years, rather than their place in the lore.

But again, for all its flaws, I don’t think it’s a bad movie. It’s a good movie, let down by its own desire to be a tribute to Warcraft first, a fun fantasy flick second. I really wish it had found a more personal story to focus on, that it had had the solid emotional tent-peg of an Arthas or a Thrall, where the big dilemmas could come from inside, and personal strengths/weaknesses rather than outright fantasy guff like Fel magic. The Beginning makes sense as the start of a new franchise, and it’s 80% the way to being the long awaited Truly Great Game To Movie Conversion. But if there’s to be only one Warcraft movie… and given its reception, that seems likely… it’s a shame it had to be this one. Still, it’s okay. Not great, but far from cinematic disaster, and for all its flaws, still one of the best conversions yet. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Now read Pip’s take as a person mildly familiar with Warcraft lore.


  1. yhancik says:

    I haven’t seen Warcraft : The Movie, but I feel your “what went wrong” bit can be applied to a lot of action films nowadays, right from the start:

    so self-important, so po-faced, so desperate to be worthy

    • gunny1993 says:

      Problem is so many directors think THEIR action scenes and writing can make that work, whilst in reality the majority don’t have a clue what they’re doing.

      Look at all the well received actions films:

      John Wick: Poor writing but the film didn’t care, just focused on style and top notch choreography.

      Mad Max: Poor writing in the macro, focused on awesome visuals and decent micro writing

      ALL THE MARVEL FILMS: Generic plots but good actors and great visuals

      Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is how you can make a movies greater than its parts.

      • Banyan says:

        John Wick was bad writing? The scene where the crime boss calls John Leguizamo’s character asking why he hit his son is one of the best scenes in an action movie I’ve seen in years. You think it’s going one way, and it goes another, and you learn a bit about both characters, and Wick. Both John Wick and Fury Road were incredibly well written; they just weren’t overwritten.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Yeah you’re right, I think I mean to say john Wick lacked plot (as you say, especially with that badass scene, one of the best bits of character exposition I can remember) but the screen writing was generally good with excellence in places.

          But really it’s my point, they keep it simple and don’t overwrite themselves into holes like, say, The new Terminator.

          • SomeDuder says:

            They fucking murdered his DOG man. Not even a grown dog, just a pup. What more reason is needed to kill every single piece of trash involved with that crime?

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            ooshp says:

            ^^Agreed x 100000

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            phuzz says:

            In the sequel you learn that actually it was his cat that ordered the hit on the dog.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          “Poor/bad writing” is an overused memetic standard complaint thrown at everything for absolutely any reason ever, both deservedly and less so. It’s almost always used for broad-strokes, vague and unspecified criticism.

          Didn’t like how emotional Kylo Ren is – Poor writing.
          Well liked character in GoT surprise-murdered – Poor writing.
          Hobbits don’t ride eagles to Mt Doom – Poor writing.
          Sonic level design – Poor writing.
          Mass Effect – Poor writing.
          Bethesda game – Poor writing.
          Review with score 9.5 and not 10 for AAA-game – Poor writing.
          Bad lighting, weird soundtrack choice – Poor writing.

    • thisdev says:

      A couple of things with this review… you say you are a long time player who cares about story and such but… you seem to think there were night elves in the movie “and the occasional shot of a Night Elf or whatever around a table”

      What? high elves as plain as day with no night elves to be seen in the whole film. You also say its a World of Warcraft movie… no its a Warcraft movie.

      Not the best work, you should do your research before posting something like this next time.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        “What? high elves as plain as day with no night elves to be seen in the whole film.”

        Oh, tsk. The costume of a couple of elves seen in passing sitting at tables looked more like a Night Elf. And I was writing quickly after seeing it, so whoops, mistyped with the variety I’m more familiar with. Yes, of course it would be a High Elf. But the point remains that the other races are barely in it, with Azeorth only really represented by a handful of humans.

        “You also say its a World of Warcraft movie… no its a Warcraft movie.”

        Look at those words and think for a moment about how silly they are. The sets are based on WoW, the visual style is based on WoW, and the money comes from the gazillion dollar success of World of Warcraft, not the 90s original. The fact that it’s set in this time period doesn’t change that, and arguing otherwise is pure pedantry.

        • Orlok says:

          So a few things:

          “And I was writing quickly after seeing it, so whoops, mistyped with the variety I’m more familiar with”

          If you’re going to write a review that will be potentially read by hundreds of people, please take a bit more time to write it. People may look to you for an honest review but admitting to not doing your research prior to making a statement should not be the case.

          “Look at those words and think for a moment about how silly they are. The sets are based on WoW, the visual style is based on WoW, and the money comes from the gazillion dollar success of World of Warcraft, not the 90s original. The fact that it’s set in this time period doesn’t change that, and arguing otherwise is pure pedantry.”

          The movie IS actually based in the 90’s version of Warcraft. However, I won’t argue about it… it would be just as “pedantry” as your excuse to sprinting to your computer and write a garbage review. =) Kudos friend. /unsub

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            ooshp says:

            Ah, here comes that strange breed of people who actually take Warcraft lore seriously. More seriously than the people who wrote it.

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            Aerothorn says:

            You’re unsubbing? How does one even sub in the first place? I’m a Patreon backer and I didn’t even know there was a Richard sub!

          • Orlok says:

            I am not a fan. I quit a year after WoW released as I wasn’t a fan of Blizzard rushing its own lore. Unfortunately you’re too busy being a white knight to find humor in a person writing a review that they admitted to being unable to take the time to research the chapter of a movie.

            “You’re unsubbing? How does one even sub in the first place? I’m a Patreon backer and I didn’t even know there was a Richard sub!”

            You’re a patron and do not know how?

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            “Unfortunately you’re too busy being a white knight to find humor in a person writing a review that they admitted to being unable to take the time to research the chapter of a movie.”

            Oh, do bugger off. The only factual error is accidentally typing “Night Elf” rather than “High Elf”. I’ve given my reasons for considering this a World of Warcraft movie, including that it’s the success of that game that spawned it, that the visual style comes from it, including such things as recreating the Lion’s Pride Inn from WoW, that most of the action is spent on more adventure party stuff than warfare (such as Lothar and Khadgar going after Medivh RPG style), and that the lore takes in great swathes of the whole series, like Dalaran already being a flying city. You can disagree, and obsess over the fact that it’s the Warcraft 1 era, but wibbling about a lack of research just makes you the kind of tiresome arse who who likes to reply to people saying “The World of Warcraft” with “Actually, you mean AZEROTH!”

          • NemesisZidar says:

            But seriously, he has a valid point. You also go about the movie taking itself too seriously while Warcraft is an oh so goofy universe, then go on about World of Warcraft.
            Im sorry but thats like going “i know so much about it” and then go fully opposite of what it actually is.
            YES, Warcraft is goofy at places, it has exploding sheeps and mages can turn someone into a sheep.
            But its like the Kotaku guy who wrote that they are only capable of doing that because its their main spells, yet he seems to forget what Warcraft actually is and on what it is based on.
            It has flying Eyeballs, i mean cmon, there are even whole creatures who are considered horrific just for that fact. There are spells like huge fireballs killing everything in line, Blizzards, Death Roses shredding the target to pieces and so on. No, Warcraft is not about turning people into sheeps. Thats only one detail on the side.

            This is even noticeable for the whole universe it is based on. And yes, the movie is based on the RTS Games and yet you call out it exists because of the game it is based on and call out WoW. Lets remember the huge success of WC3 that even made WoW possible.
            I mean, you cant literally think you are smart and call a reason out of why something exists and then forget the origin in the first place.

            But why must Warcraft be goofy? Lets remember. The first things you find out about the Warcraft Universe is that people get murdered, impaled, burned, getting chopped their heads off and so on. There are so many dark, grim and evil scenes in the first hours of Warcraft that the goofyness is easily forgotten on that way. Besides that, the fun details are details. They are on the side and often you dont notice them if you dont watch close enough. But they arent the focus of the universe. The focus of the universe are two sides using everything they have to claim their right to exist. They even have units blowing themselves up. I mean, later games had to change that because its so not right to do that in a game, now its considered “goofy”.

            Im sorry RPS Person, im not saying you are wrong about the movie in general. I havent seen it, so i cant rate it and your rating might be accurate.
            But the intention and the background you base arguments on are plain out wrong. Warcraft must not be taken overly serious but it actually is in its origin deadly serious with partly goofy presentation on the side. But its main focus ever was to be a quite serious plot with serious presentation. Watch the cutscenes and look at the presenation of the game. The units they created, the world they created, the spells they inserted and the background of what is happening in WC1, 2 and 3. Its not really funny, its only funny at places when the serious part is over.
            I think a movie based on such a lore and background should take itself serious.
            I dont think its a good attitude to say about any movie that it shouldnt take itself too serious.

            I can see where you are coming from, WoW has a lot of goof. But thats not entirely the point of the movie and while i think its fair that you want to see goofyness due to the fact that it has alot of that, it also should still concentrate on its serious character that it also has.
            And again, even its core point is.

          • qrter says:

            On second thought , let’s not read this comments section. ‘Tis a silly place.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      I just watched the new Star Wars and the constant attempts at ‘banter’ between characters who knew each other for 5 minutes irritated me very much. Especially that there was no good reason why these people (an orphaned loner scavenger and a highly indoctrinated stormtrooper) would be so witty and easy going. I honestly prefer a movie that’s ‘po faced’, meaning it doesn’t try so hard to look superficially cool to a teenaged audience.

      • mouton says:

        That banter was the only thing that saved the film for me, lacking any other interesting elements, so I guess I will disagree.

        Not that it made much sense in the context, but the interaction between the two protagonists felt a bit more human than the usual hollywood bullshit.

      • yhancik says:

        I’d say it’s another kind of excess to avoid ;)

  2. RedViv says:

    That’s about as much as I could say. It has a really amazing Azeroth it celebrates and shows off so very well, but the story and characters and events are so loud and important and taking themselves so seriously that I found it really hard to enjoy what I loved even the endearingly stereotypical and simple WC1/WC2 mission log plot.

    Worse: I did watch another game adaption over the weekend I enjoyed more because it just applied the game logic to an otherwise ordinary film. WarCraft being beaten by Need for Speed should not be a thing that happens in my brain.

  3. Arrowstormen says:

    Nice review, although “it takes itself too seriously” is a pet peeve criticism of mine, and I don’t agree with it at all in this case, having seen the movie (twice!).

  4. Xerophyte says:

    I shall quote myself from the other review of Warcraft: The Movie on RPS, because I’m self important like that, also, that’s a lot of reviews of Warcraft: The Movie for one RPS:

    It wasn’t good per se but I was actually more entertained than I expected to be. It’s better than, uh, Dungeon Siege. Or the Dungeons & Dragons movie, to further damn with faint praise.

    It’s Warcraft: The Plot and General Aesthetics with good production values and pretty decent acting. Unfortunately Warcraft’s plot and aesthetics are both kinda cruddy, but I knew that going in. It’s amusing enough for fans of the franchise, even very jaded fans of the franchise, and you can nod sagely in recognition when Kargath Bladefist and Killrog Deadeye — yes, Warcraft names are really that stupid — pop up as orc extras.

    I suspect that the main problem is that most of the movie will be incomprehensible gibberish if you haven’t played a bunch of Warcraft games, preferably ones beginning with “World of”. The plot is a ramshackle tower of fantasy inanity, which is admittedly true to the source and something I can kind of gloss over since I already knew it and know to not pay attention. A normal person or someone with good taste in video games that needs the actual movie to provide sufficient context on its own will have a poor time.

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      ooshp says:

      It’s a damn shame it isn’t funnier, as you point out alot of the lore is self-aware in its silliness (at least in my opinion, I’m assuming the writers know how ridiculous those names are?) and that’s something they really could have worked with, in a lovely warm Princess Bride kind of way.

  5. pendergraft says:

    I played World of Warcraft for years and the only name I recognize from this review is Thrall’s. This is what I get for not reading all that quest text.

  6. Horg says:

    ”Throw in a few more character scenes. Establish some proper chemistry in a bit of downtime,”

    There’s some talk going round that about 40 minutes of footage were cut from the film after post-production. It wouldn’t surprise me if the studio assumed a computer game film was doomed to flop and gave it the Kingdom Of Heaven treatment in order to further monetise the extended DVD release. The final cut might be more coherent, but bugger anyone who holds footage hostage from the theatrical release. That’s the number one reason I don’t go to the cinema any more.

    ”Or, alternatively, consider The Hobbit – a story that allows everyone to dip their toes into Middle Earth before diving into Lord of the Rings.”

    If Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit was my introduction to the LotR series, I would have written the entire franchise off and never looked back. The WOW team would do better just sticking to the source material, even if it can be very po faced (especially the ‘Jesus Thrall’ Metzen retcon) than forcing popular hollywood plot elements in where they really don’t belong.

    • Xocrates says:

      Pretty sure he’s talking about the book “The Hobbit”, not Jackson’s movies.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The Hobbit movies were shit. I refer to the charming book.

    • rgbarton says:

      Personally The Hobbit movies were my introduction to lord of the rings and I really loved the hobbit films along with the lord of the rings movies so I do thing it works well as an introduction to newcomers to the franchise but that’s just my own opinion

    • rgbarton says:

      Personally The Hobbit movies were my introduction to lord of the rings and I really loved the hobbit films along with the lord of the rings movies so I do thing it works well as an introduction to newcomers to the franchise but that’s just my own opinion really

  7. aircool says:

    I don’t think I could watch this movie without commenting every thirty seconds about how ‘Warhammer would have done it better’.

    Of course, for Warhammer to be good old Warhammer, it would have an 18 rating.

    • The Petulant Platypus says:

      …..and the tickets would have to be about $100 each.

      I’m a long time WoW player, not so much nowdays but I jump in now and again to check it out and I played WC1, 2 and 3 heavily – so I’m guessing that I would “get more” out of this movie than perhaps a non warcraft player or one who plays but doesn’t follow the story overly much (ie quest text skipping etc.)

      I think I’ll go see it at the very least for the big screen experience and the fact I have many good memories of Warcraft and will be interesting to see the onscreen iterations of the characters.

  8. roddy says:


  9. lazurath66 says:

    I’d like to know how The Warcraft movie already has reviews since it doesn’t even come out until June 10th.

    • Llewyn says:

      …in the US.

      It’s out elsewhere.

    • RedViv says:

      Found the American! (Or Eastern European.)

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      particlese says:

      Yeah, dude, I— …haven’t the foggiest what you’re talking about, old chap.
      *inconspicuously backs away from the conversation*

    • X_kot says:

      This would be another fitting moment to hoist the #NoOceans protest…but it’s the Warcraft movie, so…ehhh?

  10. lazurath66 says:

    Oh ok lol.

  11. Det. Bullock says:

    “so self-important, so po-faced, so desperate to be worthy”

    Uhm, sometimes I wonder if there is a but too much enphasis on the “fun” whether they make a movie about pop culture stuff, almost like if without jokes people wouldn’t be able to appreciate fantasy stuff, that might explain why while making a movie about the Iliad Hollywood threw out as many supernatural elements as they could: when you are making a serious movie it seems you can’t have gods running around the battlefield and giving superpowers to their favourites to turn the tide of battle to their liking.

    • SomeDuder says:

      I think it’s a matter of “tone” – you can’t have a serious movie feature dickjokes, self-referencing or dumb violence for the heck of it. Imagine how Lord of the Rings could be improved by the Hobbits placing fart-pillows under Sauron’s seat. Oh wait, no that’s the opposite of an improvement. But it did have it’s funny moments, but that’s because they were character-driven (The comedic-relief Hobbit duo), not because the script called for .

      But you can make a fun movie with a serious storyline. Recent example – Deadpool. Again, the characters create the fun situations.

      Warcraft’s (The movie, not the World of the RTS) problem is that it takes itself too serious for a movie about green orcs vs shining knights set in a world of dragons and magic. I mean, not even the games take themselves that serious, and given that this movie is aimed at the 15-35-year old crowd, you can get away with some jokes.

      • Det. Bullock says:

        “Warcraft’s (The movie, not the World of the RTS) problem is that it takes itself too serious for a movie about green orcs vs shining knights set in a world of dragons and magic.”

        Why is it necessarily a problem?
        That’s what I don’t understand, what if LOTR happened not to have the Hobbits in the source material, should have Peter Jackson added jokes to make it more palatable to people that don’t really like the fantasy elements that much unless you put jokes in?

        • Runty McTall says:

          He did though – bits like Gimli asking to be thrown into combat and saying “Don’t tell the elf,” with a cheeky grin spring to mind. Nobody’s asking for whole scenes of stand-up, just lighter touches here and there.

        • lglethal says:

          I think the difference is that Lord of the Rings is a serious world. It has serious world building, so it plays as a serious fantasy and works.

          The world of Warcraft (not to be confused with World of Warcraft(TM)) is a ridiculous world and frankly it knows it. There isn’t any real attempt to create a real living, working world. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the games, and that’s the way that world works. So to try and play it as a deadly serious world ala LoTR, just falls flat.

          Anyway, I haven’t seen the movie and I probably wont, at least until its on sale in the bargain bin for €2. So give me 6 months… :P

        • Det. Bullock says:

          Having a cartoony art style doesn’t necessarily mean that the game/comic book/movie doesn’t take itself seriously.

          I don’t remember while any moment of self-awareness while playing Warcraft II and III, but then again it was many years ago.

  12. Halk says:

    So can this be recommended rather to WoW players, or rather to oldskool Warcraft players (as in WC1 and WC2), or to both?

  13. DorrieB says:

    It’s not the kind of movie I would usually look forward to, but I’ll make a LOT of time for Duncan Jones, who made Moon and Source Code. I’m seeing this as a sort of anti ‘300’, promoting humanity, kindness and intelligence instead of glorifying violence and jingoism, and for that I’ll buy two tickets even if I only need one!

  14. DDark says:

    They should have made the movie solely about Arthas and his downfall and end it with him sitting on the Frozen Throne, cold and alone.

    It was incredible when I finished Warcraft 3 from beginning to end.

    • Kaiba says:

      Yes, but the movie was called the Warcraft movie and not the Warcraft 3 movie for a reason. The rise and downfall of Arthas doesn’t even happen until after the Second Great War, which takes place after the First Great War i.e. the time this movie was set in.

      I imagine if the movie is well enough received by moviegoers, or the studio that produced it decides to put those 40 more minutes of cut content back into the movie in an extended edition and it’s successful enough, we’ll probably end up seeing a sequel or two, in which we’ll probably see Arthas chase after Mal’ganis, fight Illidan, take Ner’zhul’s place as the Lich King, kill his dad, then kill and revive Sylvanas.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Oh god, no. Arthas was the most tedious protagonist since… well, 99% of other video games. I was elated when the human campaign was over and it looked like I’d be finally be shot of him, only to learn I’d have to drag his hollow, miserable arse around for another god knows how many levels.

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        ooshp says:

        Yeah I always found him very dreary, he’d get on well with a bunch of Protoss and the angels from Diablo.

  15. C0llic says:

    A really interesting review, and it’s good to hear about this from the perspective of someone who cares about the lore and story.

    The criticisms make clear it won’t be a film I’d enjoy, but it does seem they really tried.

  16. dreadguacamole says:

    Great article as usual, this is a great take on a flawed but pretty damn decent movie.

    I watched it today because my wife wanted to see it (after the dire trailers and worse reviews, I wanted to stay the hell away) and maybe it’s the magic of lowered expectations, but I liked it way more than I thought I would.

    Great action with very chunky violence (as in chunks of PG-13 gore and gouts of blood flying), fairly pacey for the amount of exposition it’s got to get through, and it undercuts its self-importance with loads of goofy character moments. It has a *lot* of problems, most of them owing to the fact that it’s way overstuffed (and most of them mentioned on your wIt), but overall very much worth it and leagues better than any other game adaptation, barring maybe Silent Hill. I’m… not going to count Wreckit Ralph.
    It’s a good counterpoint to the more polished star wars and marvel movies Disney is putting out – they coast on their characters. Warcraft’s got a lot more rough bits, especially on the character side, but it’s also got a loads more personality, with enthusiasm and love for the material pretty much oozing through. I suspect it had a lot less committee oversight.
    It also helps that, as opposed to the various recent superhero movies, it’s got pretty great direction. The only ones I felt came close to this on that respect are Iron Man 3 and Guardians, both movies by directors with a fairly strong voice.

    Also, there’s a pretty (unintentionally) hilarious moment when I imagine they heard about the recent flak Hollywood’s been getting for its lack of casting diversity. Turns out the human high command suddenly has a black guy and a Japanese guy as generals of some sort. They barely figure into the rest of the movie, but they are in the one scene in case someone complains!

    All in all, I think Warcraft is almost a good movie (and definitely a good videogame movie), with spectacle, great action sequences, and exuberance making up for its shortcomings. I really do hope there’s a director’s cut out there making it into a more coherent whole, because I would love to stop feeling like an apologist and actually be able to recommend it without a whole lot of caveats.

  17. hemmer says:

    Better than most game-conversions? I haven’t seen the Warcraft movie yet but it cannot be better than the Chinese Paladin TV series. The latter has people in cheap dragon costumes!!

    In all seriousness though, it is still one of the best video game adaptions I have seen, small budget notwithstanding. The actors are great, it celebrates the game it comes from, without being too cheesy. And it FEELS like an RPG, it has the same story beats as the game, the same atmosphere and the actors are frankly great. It also lacks the self-importance. It has drama in spades but also knows when to just be silly.

    If you don’t mind subpar special effects and watching a show in Chinese with English fansubs and maybe have a love for jRPGs, go for it.

    • hemmer says:

      Also: I don’t get why everything has to be a movie. After the success of GoT I sincerely hope more things get TV adaptions. It gives long-form stories from most books and games the necessary room to breathe and just fits the pacing loooaaaads better.

      • jonahcutter says:


        One big reason GoT can work in TV series form is because it’s primarily low fantasy in visuals. The more fantastical elements are fairly spare. I was just reading about how they have just two practical giant suits for actors. It looks great for the tiny bits they have giants, because they’re not rushed tv cg with slightly off actor eyelines everywhere. But they also don’t need to show entire races of orcs, elves, dwarfs, trolls etc in huge wars.

        Hell, even for the GoT dragons they built a literal fire-belching crane rig. Primarily to get the blocking and actor interaction looking proper. And their dragons are actually scaled-down, more “realistic” wyverns (/nerd). Onyxia would keep a GoT dragon as a pet (and yes I think they fucked Smaug up in The Hobbit film (/nerdoutrage)).

        Serial television would be a good format for Warcraft storytelling-wise, but there is a LOT of overhead in just its world and race building. They’ve got multiple entire fantasy races to show and keep from looking poor. Plus far more fantastical environments to put around their actors. And the human eye still often knows extensive cg when it sees it, even on the big-screen. The newest Star Wars made a point of practical effects and actual locations to counter much of the criticism the prequels received, and received a more positive response for it.

        • hemmer says:

          You make excellent points, but I wasn’t really thinking of a Warcraft TV series anyway. I like the universe but don’t personally feel the need for any adaptions anyway.

          I was just thinking more TV adaptions in general.

  18. PancakeWizard says:

    ‘bants’ can be pretty hard to pull off so I’m not going to fault them for playing it safe when LOTR did that for 9 hours.

    Thing is though the trailer for Warcraft showed there was certainly some banter in there.

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  20. ansionnach says:

    Interesting review. Maybe I won’t avoid this if I unexpectedly collide with it. Prince of Persia is the best film I’ve seen that’s based on a film. Thought it was amusing enough and didn’t take itself too seriously. Far from a masterpiece but it was watchable. The bit where the camera pans out to give you a side-on view of the prince running and jumping across rooftops made me smile.

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