I went to see the Warcraft movie last night, and it left me with a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head. So I reckoned I’d write them down.
Visually, Warcraft is impressive. The landscapes and cities look incredible, and really make you feel like you’ve stepped into the cities from World of Warcraft. Even more impressive are the orcs, who are finely detailed and whose every movement have been captured so well that they look and feel like real people. The humans and other races look good as well, with their looks from the game world captured perfectly. Unfortunately, they pale in comparison to the orcs whenever they appear together in a scene.
Further to this visual disparity between the orcs and everyone else, the orcs’ armour and equipment looks so much more ‘real’ than the humans’. The orc armour looks functional and heavy. Their weapons seem like they have weight, while still capturing iconic looks from the games. The human armour, on the other hand, while looking very shiny and faithful to the games, also looked to me like very good cosplay armour. That is to say, it looked amazing, but it didn’t look functional or heavy or even like it was made out of metal in some cases. Even the human weapons seemed to lack weight.
I heard an opinion on this movie that pretty much summed up the visual aspect of the film for me: it’s one of those rare cases where the CG elements actually looked better than the live action stuff.
Now onto the other aspects of the film. As a fantasy film, it ticked a lot of the right boxes: magic, fantastic creatures, amazing cities, beautiful vistas, and big battles. However, the film also felt like it lacked heart. I must admit I found myself not really caring about the plight of the humans in general, nor did I particularly care about the specific characters or their safety. Like the rest of the film, the characters felt like they were ticking the necessary boxes but somehow didn’t evoke any sort of emotional response in the audience (or at least from me). The most interesting character was probably Durotan, and even then, he was mostly interesting from a visual perspective.
The film seemed to assume that the audience had a certain level of knowledge about the world and characters before they even walked into the cinema. Many characters and locations were not named, perhaps to reduce the chance of information overload, but it left me feeling like I should know who that orc or what that city was. I have played Warcraft III and a not-insignificant number of hours of World of Warcraft, so I felt my knowledge of the world and its history was likely to be sufficient. However, I got the feeling like the film expected me to know more. That’s quite an expectation for a film that likely needs to impress the masses in order to secure a sequel.
There were a few other aspects that bothered me, like the strange cuts at the ends of some scenes. One example was when a scene ended with a shot of Garona looking at something. To me it felt like that shot needed to go on for a few more seconds before it cut to a completely different scene. On its own, that would have been fine, but there were several more instances where I felt the change of scene was a bit abrupt.
Lastly, I must wonder why the story was changed from the established lore. I’m not an expert, but I am married to one, and he listed numerous changes from how the story was supposed to go. I do wonder why this was done – perhaps it was to improve pacing or the flow of the story? I worry that it will affect potential sequels the way the Eragon film adaptation made it more or less impossible to make any sequels without rewriting the entire thing.
Overall, I found the film entertaining and a visual treat, but I felt it lacked depth. The fact that I wasn’t particularly concerned about the fate of the characters, and that the film didn’t leave me wondering what would happen to them in the future, is a bit worrying.