Though by no means a flop, Duncan Jones’ movie adaptation of the religiously popular MMORPG series World of Warcraft failed to connect with audiences in an equally successful way as the games.
Video-game-to-movie adaptations have always struggled with critics and audiences alike but the reaction to Warcraft was particularly harsh. Does the movie deserve to be remembered as a failure or is there a potential audience that could be missing out on something they’ll love because of an unfairly negative reputation? Let’s look at where the movie’s greatest successes as well as its most damning issues to see if it’s truly as bad as people say it is.
10 Isn’t: The Music
Ramin Djawadi’s score is the first thing about the massive scope of the movie that the audience is introduced to and it’s pretty terrific.
Adapting the distinct sound of the games, the music for Warcraft is big, rousing, and full of menace. It adds so much personality to the movie’s story and assists in keeping it flowing at a satisfying pace and fleshing out its fictional world.
9 Isn’t: The Cinematography
Simon Duggan’s cinematography, similar to the music, never slacks off. Warcraft clearly has a lot of love for its source material but never rests on it as the only thing required to sell the movie.
Though forced to incorporate an almost constant string of hyper-detailed computer-generated effects shots into a live-action world, the movie still relies on angles and close-ups to give tone and character to its scenes.
8 Is: Way Too Much Going On
Warcraft is burdened with not only establishing two fictional worlds and several distinct fantasy cultures and races, but it also has to be a pacy action-adventure movie too.
The result is like watching an entire season of a TV show crammed into two episodes, blink and you honestly can miss something crucial and, even if you don’t, there’s so much about the movie’s story that can easily fly over the most seasoned movie fan’s head.
7 Isn’t: Effects, Sets, and Costumes
A movie like Warcraft is as much about constructing a fictional world as it is telling one specific story, perhaps even more so, and the sets, costumes, and effects are all of a consistently high standard.
The exaggerated designs of the games aren’t really well-suited for live-action storytelling but the production goes to admirable lengths to fully realize them as fans know them rather than toning them down. The gigantic props and suits of armor don’t look easy to deal with but they assist greatly in making the movie stand out as its own thing in such a visually derivative genre.
6 Is: Not Enough Backstory
The audience is dropped into the middle of a complex realm of opposing factions with its own unique history and, while there’s a certain pleasantness to figuring things out for yourself from throwaway lines and vague references, it makes the movie seem inaccessible to anyone who hasn’t played the games.
The audience is told that the movie takes place in Azeroth, for example, but, if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, you have no actual idea what Azeroth is. Is it a planet? A kingdom? An island? A continent? A peninsula? You don’t know, and the movie really doesn’t have time to explain.
5 Isn’t: Genuine Tragedy
While the movie’s structuring of its fictional world may leave a lot to be desired, it uses the time that it has to properly flesh out its conflicts and this is, after all, a movie about conflict.
Character’s motivations are well established and their paths towards their predetermined outcomes come off as genuinely tragic.
4 Isn’t: Performances
The actors in Warcraft have a lot of serious stuff to accomplish with their characters in a very ridiculous setting and they each rise to the challenge.
Whether they’re giving motion-capture performances of gigantic monsters, restricted by makeup and costumes, or just saddled with absurd expositional dialogue, each actor takes their role seriously and makes their character seem three-dimensional.
3 Is: It Doesn’t Have an Ending
The biggest thing holding Warcraft back from feeling like a complete experience is its lack of any kind of conclusion to the events it depicts.
One antagonistic force is dealt with but it’s by no means the main one of the movie and all of its remaining characters are left in some kind of emotional limbo, with crucial information about their lives being privy to the audience but not them, and it all feels for the sake of a sequel that we’ll likely never see.
2 Isn’t: Tiny Details
Even if you aren’t familiar with the games at all, it’s plain to see that a loving amount of detail has been put into the movie.
Actors are always switched on in their scenes and reacting to their world even when the focus isn’t on them while the environments themselves go a long way in fleshing out the aspects of the story’s world that the movie doesn’t have time to stop and examine.
1 Isn’t: Well Rounded Characters
The usual issue with video-game-to-movie adaptations is characters because, even more so than with a novel, the characters of a video-game are easier for an audience member to imprint themselves onto.
Warcraft fully embraces that its characters need to be both unwaveringly distinct and emotionally balanced in order for them to be relatable to the audience. You understand the obligations of not just the protagonists but the antagonists also in intimate detail so their actions always make sense even if the situation necessarily doesn’t.
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