May 25, 2016 came with the movie titled “Warcraft: The Beginning”, which saw the collective orgasm of almost all geeks old enough when the unassuming game it was based on came out in 1995. Blizzard back then was not yet the legendary gamegold developer and titles like “Diablo” and “Starcraft” were probably not yet thought of. Fast forward to 21 years later, and here we all are.
First off, let me just say that I am a big fan of lores. Be it Star Wars, LOTR, GoT, Harry Potter, or whatever, I will always seek out and devour the lore first and foremost.
So naturally, that was the first thing I went for with Warcraft. And man, it was like I was led to high fantasy heaven! Unlike some other franchises, this one’s got its lore down pat: from nothingness, to creation, to ancient civilizations, ancient wars, a great global disaster, right down to modern woes, and even employing an instance of retroactive continuity at present. Azeroth is filled to the brim with events, beings, artifacts, places, and each and every one of these are quite detailed and nuanced. It is a world anyone can immerse themselves in. Anyone. Take a look in any of its wikis if you don’t believe me.
Which is why I was kind of disappointed while I viewed the film. I was unconsciously shaking my head for about every 3 minutes the entirety of the movie. It was that bad, initially.
There were a lot of thoughts and questions popping up in my head while I watched. Why is it going too fast? Why didn’t they try establishing anything? Why did I feel some of the major characters were miscast? What was it I was looking for and didn’t find?
I slept that night feeling bad for being disappointed with the movie. I was being a bad fan.
The next day, I sat myself down and started thinking. I probably spent majority of my day doing just that. I spaced out a lot on my wife, who told me off about it too. Sorry, dear. But thinking like that helped a lot. I realized why I was disappointed with the Warcraft film. It was because I held it to impossibly high standards. And anything, even the movies I’ve already raved about here, will always fall short of impossibly high standards.
But Bem, c’mon. LOTR? The Hobbit? Harry friggin’ Potter? Those were solid movies. There were none of the disastrous elements littering Warcraft in these masterpieces when they were made several years ago. Sure, I get your point. I am aware that said earlier movies do trump this 2016 one. But I’m now at peace with that. Why?
Well, first, let’s remember that our source material for Warcraft: The Beginning is a game from 1995. Not a novel or a series of those, as aforementioned movies were. Everyone knows it’s not a walk in the park making written narratives into films. Now try to imagine being dumped a PC RTS (real-time strategy) game and its attendant backstory and then being given the task to flawlessly make it alive on the silver screen for two hours at most. That was exactly what Duncan Jones was tasked with, being both the director and screenplay writer for this epic undertaking. For what it’s worth, he did a spectacular job. And he probably did it all for love. Yes, Duncan Jones is a real and vocal fan of the franchise. Last time that happened, LOTR was made. And what’s the running time for one of those bad boys? Oh yeah, definitely longer than two hours. And the source material for that was basically spoonfed by Tolkien himself. Plug and play, baby. Not so with Warcraft: The Beginning. Jones had to pick which particular set of events included in the game get written into the plot of the movie. So give the man some slack.
And you know what else? It’s just the first movie. And it’s such a wonderful first dive into a very promising arc. My insides tingle at the thought of things, people, and events to come. We haven’t even seen Lordaeron yet, for Pete’s sake.
But yes. If I were to assess this film without any knowledge of its lore and just by its merits in metrics usually associated with and utilized for the medium, it is a sad failure. Even Duncan Jones cannot save it. I still think one of, if not the main protagonist is a definite miscast and such a letdown. His acting was uninspired at best and nonexistent at worst. I also still think the scriptwriter should be force fed with the thoughtless script first before being barred from writing film scripts in the future. Lastly, I still am a bit annoyed at the sound designers’ compromising the barely audible dialogue for cheap thundering thrills. But apart from those bones I feel the need to pick, everything else was okay. Not good, but also not bad. I felt the sincerity from the others. And that’s good enough for me for first blood.
To sum it up, I recommend everyone to go see this one for yourselves before making your minds up about it. This is one of those instances when the critics should shove it. Try it before you knock it. You just might find it awesome.
Director: Duncan Jones | Producer: Stuart Fenegan Alex Gartner Charles Roven Jon Jashni Thomas Tull | Writer: Duncan Jones Charles Leavitt Chris Metzen | Casting: Michelle Allen | Cast: Travis Fimmel Paula Patton Ben Foster Dominic Cooper Toby Kebbell Ben Schnetzer Robert Kazinsky Clancy Brown Daniel Wu Ruth Negga Anna Galvin | Camera: Simon Duggan | Music: Ramin Djawadi | Editing: Paul Hirsch | Production Design: Gavin Bocquet | Art Direction: Dan Hermansen Helen Jarvis Iain McCaig Margot Ready William Ladd Skinner Grant Van Der Slagt | Set Decor: Elizabeth Wilcox | Makeup: Jill Bailey Jaime Danielian Rebeccah Delchambre Adrien Morot Sarah Bergeest Still Howard Lau (character designer) Connie Parker (makeup designer) | Costume: Mayes C. Rubeo | Production Management: Sean Cooney (post-prod head, Legendary Pictures) Cecil O’Connor Leeann Stonebreaker (unit prod manager) Corinne Teng (associate prod manager) | Sound: Michael Babcock Eric batut Tom Bellfort Charlie Campagna Nerses Gezalyan Gary A. Hecker Eric Hoehn Sylvain Lasseur Millar Montgomery Thomas J. O’Connell Unsun Song Wylie Stateman | Production: Atlas Entertainment Legendary Pictures Blizzard Entertainment Universal Pictures ILM (SFX) Rodeo FX (VFX) Prime Focus World (3D conversion) | Distribution: Columbia Pictures (Philippines) Toho-Towa (Japan) Universal Pictures (USA) |Year: 2016 | Length: 123′ | Genre: Fantasy Adventure | Spoken Language: English | Subtitles: none | Country: USA