Review: ‘Warcraft’ An Assault On The Senses

Well, at least Garry Marshall can breathe a sigh of relief.

Universal Studios Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones, produced by Legendary, Atlas and Blizzard Entertainment (the company that developed the game) is an assault on the senses. With CGI that has been plastered all over with little reason behind it, sound quality that will question your ability to hear, and a script that leaves the biggest Warcraft fans puzzled,this film is an enormous failure on all fronts.

warcraftartThis is, in essence, a story concerning the realm of men being attacked by Orcs from another world. There are some familiar elements: A wise king (Travis Fimmel) and a rebel Orc clan leader (Toby Kebbell) want to prevent a war. So with these two elements of a human and rebel leader wanting to work together, one would assume this would be at least the start of a great origin film.Well, those assumptions would be incorrect as Jones doesn’t allow the movie to develop at any point. Instead, the audience endures one jolting plot turn after another. One minute, we are discussing wizards and then suddenly (and without any semblance of a transition), Orcs; then we are talking about the portal that orcs are building, and then without warning it’s back to talking about the King. This schizophrenic plot design is confusing to the most gifted of Warcraft players let alone novice movie goers who are introduced to this universe for the first time.

Industrial Light and Magic had a major hand in developing the Orcs and the final product was shocking. The creatures lack any authenticity and appear to be computer images interacting with other actors. Instead of big budget special effects, we are treated to small market images that bear little resemblance to anything in the game.

As for the sound, the mixer’s sole purpose was to ensure that the sound (whether it’s dialogue or special effects) is blended in with precision. Instead, we get two hours of mumbled dialogue, screeching special effects, and ambient noise was so distracting it was hard even to focus on the putridity on the IMAX screen.

Warcraft fans will argue that it’s hard to evaluate the film unless someone has played the game. No, the audience shouldn’t have to develop the appropriate amount of background knowledge to appreciate this movie. The burden falls on Duncan Jones, Chris Metzen, and Charles Leavitt to develop a narrative that introduces us to the world of Orc and Man, while keeping us engaged. This film slogs along for over an hour until it’s clear who the main characters are. The plot jettisons from one point to another at a rapid rate leaving the audiences head spinning.Jones opted to combine multiple elements from the Warcraft universe when developing his “narrative”. Why? Why not focus on developing one stellar origin film instead of trying to make an epic? Furthermore, why did Jones pick the most mundane characters in the universe for his film? Warcraft is rich with the source material and choose the portion of the saga that had the least amount of fighting. Why didn’t they develop the story around Thrall (that would be the Orc baby that his mom sends down the river for safety)? In Warcraft 3, there is this whole storyline where he learns who he is and rises from an enslaved gladiator to save his people. This story has tons of action and intensity which would have played well on screen.

Some critics might spin this film as simply being okay. How’s this movie even close to being okay? Warcraft had a budget of 160 million and the director spent five years on this project, and the best he does is a film that is no better than a b-grade fantasy film that belongs at the bottom of the bargain bin at Walmart.

Anyone who says otherwise is just living in a fantasy world.


Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.