Going into the Warcraft movie, there is no denying I was sceptical.
Can a major movie studio really pull off a film about a computer game, especially Warcraft?
Before we get started, I have a quick PSA: although I’ve had the pleasure of pouring countless hours into Blizzard’s Warcraft and World of Warcraft (WoW), I must stress, you’ll still enjoy this movie even if you’re completely new to the franchise. In fact, my dad can vouch for that, who might have been the only person in the cinema enjoying the movie more than I was.
Now, our story begins in Draenor, the home of the Orcs. Their world is dying and they need another, so naturally, they follow the creepiest guy in The Horde (a unity of Orc clans) through a portal into Azeroth (the place where humans and dwarves etc. live). In short, their plan is to capture humans in order to use their bodies to power the portal so they can bring all the orcs into Azeroth and take over the place.
Pretty grim, right? Still, intermingled between the eye-gouging, throat slicing action is a storyline steeped in love and loss, corruption and benevolence. All in all, I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear…
Which is why the Warcraft movie was such a pleasant surprise.
It had every chance to rest on its predisposed fan base as a means of making the dough, pulling off a bunch of cool CGI sequences and calling it a day. But there was serious effort put into the story and the character development. We learn about our protagonist’s life, Sir Anduin Lothar’s (Travis Fimmel) and establish a deep empathy with him. We relate to Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) a young mage, sympathising with his rebellious nature and willingness to establish his own path, and we feel empowered by Durotan’s (Toby Kebbell) dedication to his clan, and his struggle to fight those dishonouring the Orc way.
The movie also finds time to throw in a bit of humour, and not in an excessive “every thing’s a joke’ Marvel humour”, but enough to provide comic relief when needed, and still maintain a serious overall tone.
Warcraft showcased some little nuggets for those more familiar with the universe, including a cheeky Polymorph spell pulled off by Khadgar (a personal highlight of the movie).
I must say, however, I did find it a little cringe worthy seeing Durotan and Draka’s son Go’el floating down the river in a wicker basket in an attempt to save his life; just a tad too biblical for my liking. But there was a silver-lining here when Blizzard threw out a massive hint at a sequel. Who knows? Perhaps Warcraft is the new ‘Lord of the Rings’; I definitely wouldn’t object.
What are the wider implications of the success of the Warcraft movie?
We all know that Bungie have toyed with the idea of a Halo feature film since what seems like the dawn of time itself, and that the Assassin’s Creed movie (starring Michael Fassbender) is quickly approaching. With this new shift towards a gaming film genre I have to say, I hope more successful franchises try their hand at the silver screen. While it may initially seem daring to compact days of gameplay into a couple of hours, creating movies based on video games expands the universe and gives fans more to get excited about, and at the end of the day, that’s what I’m all about.