Review: Warcraft Isn’t Goofy Enough To Make Up For A Murky Story

Title: Warcraft
Director: Duncan Jones
Summary: The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home.

Warcraft is one of two video adaptations that are coming out in 2016 that people are hoping will finally produce a good movie. Thus far the video game movie landscape is a desolate wasteland that is one super mutant away from being a Fallout game. There were a few reasons to at least be optimistic about Warcraft but the primary one is Duncan Jones. His first movie, Moon, is one of the best science fiction movies in a decade and he’s a huge fan of the game. That raw filmmaking talent, combined with a love of the world and the minds of WETA (the genius’ behind the Lord of the Rings special effects), designing everything was enough to make even the most cynical viewer at least hopeful.

Warcraft is an odd movie that isn’t very good until it stops trying to be good and embraces just how goofy everything about it is.

warcraft poster

There are some game breaking things in this movie. The first ten minutes were a rough watch for me because the Orcs didn’t look like they had any weight to them. While I didn’t know how they could possibly make something that inhuman look real they very much looked like the CGI characters that I knew they were. I’m not sure if the CGI got better later on, or if I just got used to it, but the longer the movie went on the better it looked. I’m not sure if seeing it in IMAX 3D helped or hindered when it came to that but by the end I did have some issues with eyestrain. There is also the fact that this is yet another movie where the story is bogged down by the plot. There is so much exposition as Jones has meticulously created the world of Warcraft that he seems to forget to form a coherent story. The characters are arch with their weird names that if you asked me ten minutes after it ended to name a single character, by name, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Speaking of characters there is not a single woman of note in this movie. It seems that everyone was under the impression that Garona (Paula Patton) would be enough of a presence but her entire arc doesn’t make much sense. They say she is a “half breed” but never really explain, at least that I can remember, what she is or why the orcs keep her around. There is also the question as to why the humans decide to trust her so much. Patton does her best to look menacing in her puke green make up and silly looking fangs but the movie gives her nothing to do. They have the amazing Ruth Negga as the human queen who stands around and does absolutely nothing. The actions that the orcs and the humans make in this war don’t really make any sense. The orcs don’t see the obviously evil leader as evil and the humans are so incompetent that I worried for their intelligence. The big battle at the end was supposed to be a huge dramatic sacrifice but no one feels real and we don’t care enough to make it mean anything.

All of this makes it sound like I hated this movie but I didn’t, or at least not as much as I thought I would. I love cheesy, high fantasy or high concept science fiction so this sort of thing works for me. Warcraft gets better when it starts to embrace how goofy it is and those moments worked for me. However, the movie seems to go “oh no, we’re a serious movie” which made me want to flail my arms and go “no, you are not a serious movie, embrace how over the top you are and you’re a better movie”. Perhaps this is another movie that seems better to me because I went in with no expectations. The early reviews are destroying this movie and while it isn’t good I can’t say that I walked out angry like I did with Angry Birds or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Warcraft is not a good movie with an extremely clunky story that focuses so much on the world that it forgets to have real characters or even a coherent narrative. However, when the movie decided not to take itself so seriously, it got better and maybe if this one does well they can work out the tone more. The world of Warcraft has potential if only they had a better script.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.