This review CONTAINS spoilers to the Warcraft film to any of those unfamiliar with Warcraft lore. If you’re one of those people, then how dare you! At least you’ll get learned from both perspectives.
I didn’t get a chance to see Warcraft for almost tens days after its release. I know, I know, bad blogger. There were plenty of legitimate reasons. Chief among them was fear. Fear that the film may be as bad as the early reviews said. Fear that the lore I was sucked into would be taken and bastardized like so many video game properties before it. Fear that the weight of a massive franchise would crush Duncan Jones’ artistic talent, a talent that I’ve very much enjoyed to date. It’s with much trepidation that I stepped into Auditorium 9 on Tuesday, 3D glasses and a small popcorn in hand. A theater that was completely empty. A theater that I arrived to 10 minutes after the start time. Ominous indeed. I plopped down, munched some kernels and ogled the screen. The credits rolled and I thought “I wonder what Shaktaji would think being someone that’s rather new to the lore…”
She roundly took up the challenge to deliver her newbie review. Via text. Live texts. It began with confusion.
“Had no idea movie was starting…” as two warriors, one human, one orc, circled each other on a dusty wasteland complete with voiceover. A time jump later and we’re introduced to Gul’dan and his Horde, something she understands. But “Gul’dan looks very fake” is the second critic. Why? Well, Gul’dan in Hearthstone appears decades older. More of a wasted shell. Unfortunately, that’s how she envisioned the fel master. This caused her to feel he, in particular, was an example of poor CGI. Clearly not something any fan of Blizzard would expect. The scene continues with a classic wartime rally. Gul’dan rallying his people. Despite the reservations of Durotan and his people it gave off a “very Trump rally vib[e]”.
Distracted, Shaktaji began honing in on the sets. Epic sets that weren’t well done. She screamed for real stone walls, real forests to help represent the lands of Azeroth. After all, there’s plenty of this world, that being Earth, that the populous isn’t intimately familiar with that could stand in. Stand in as something real instead of computer generated for no reason. This trend, a severe dislike for CGI when it wasn’t necessary to bring the world to screen, continued throughout the text review. Later on, the scouting mission awarded hern more ammo. She noted “The frostwolf [Sharptooth] CGI is worse than the wolves in Twilight.” Simple rebuttal was a raised eyebrow and “Twilight…” as I trailed off. When pressed, she admitted that wasn’t entirely true, but again, why bother with a such a heavily stylized wolf? It’s not like we can customize our mounts in game or something!
“What is a Guardian?!?!!” summed up her next bout of confusion. A murloc under the bridge nearly covered the gaffe. “I Heard a murloc though, that was cool” says someone that absolutely disdains murloc decks. The major oversight didn’t get pushed aside though. It’s absolutely fair. If you’re not familiar with Warcraft, specifically Warcraft III or newer, the Guardian isn’t a well known role in lore. The film glossed over its utmost importance. That of being the defacto champion of the Kirin Tor, another aspect of magedom that was glossed over, and the protector of the realm.
At this point, as Stormwind is planning and executing a scouting mission to figure out who the Orcs are, she complained that she didn’t know the king’s name. That’s kinda of an oversight at this point. Unless you know it’s King Llane, he’s a guy with a crown. Up to this point Jones has made a big deal out of naming everyone — Durotan, Lothar, Gul’dan, Kevlar [Ed. Note: We know it’s Khadgar] — but the king is nameless dude with amazing hair, suggesting he may not play much of a role in upcoming events. That’s not the case. It’s Llane who reaches out to Garona, giving her every opportunity to murder him, or his wife, if she dared. He saw that she’s an outside of the Horde for being “scrawny” and let’s her into his circle as an informant. An informant that in Shaktaji’s opinion “goes from [a] specimen of [the] invading force to trusted ally way too quickly”. Fast forward to the death of King Llane and we see how the immediate acceptance and ascendance of Garona is even more irksome. “What?!?!!” “The ‘kill me’ bit came out of ducking NOWHERE.” She saw why Garona was instantly accepted though, “Must be the cleavage.”
Yeah, that’s some nice cleavage. That bit of teenage regression sums up her next dig quite nicely if you ask me. Warcraft, in her mind, leaves a bit to be desired in the cunning linguists department. “Dialogue is horrible — silly one liners (“that was cheery”).” The dialog is the broth of the Warcraft universe. The meat and potatoes lives in the epic struggle, the overall story arc, not the thin fluid that holds it together.
The impeding third act left Shaktaji more annoyed than anything before it. It begins with sadsack Lothar. Granted, the man watch his son die. Die because his bro miscalculated his magics erecting a wall of lightning a shade behind the front line. Lothar opted to drown his personal torment by hitting the pub. “Drunk & lying on a bar = not a respectable way to mourn the loss of a child” she says. I’m 90% sure that’s the first activity I would partake in. Well, after being overcome by emotion from such a tragedy, of course. The annoyance continued with Lothar. Not the writing this time, but casting. Hearthstone present a Anduin Lothar as an aged man. Timeline differences aside, Shaktaji believed that his comic relief and general adolescence take away from his revered status in his later life.
Warcraft quickly attempted to segment the orcs. The green orcs were subtly shown to be bad, all of the green-eyed Gul’dan’s ilk. The Frostwolf Clan, and a few select others, remained brown, the original spectrum of orcs. Green eyes were presented as additionally bad, or at least additionally powerful. End Glenn Close, who, confusing even to me, isn’t Aegwynn, but Alodi, another previous Guardian of Tirisfal. The presentation of Alodi, a shadowy, green-eyed figure inside a magical cube kept in secret at Dalaran, caused some consternation among our uninitiated. “Who the duck [it’s through text, remember?] am I supposed to trust?!?!!”
She was quickly distracted from the inner turmoil. “Polymorph!”
Then the movie ended on her in the most obvious way possible to fans of the franchise, a stalemate. A perfect situation to see another eruption of violence. “It ends in a stand off…FFS.” Hey, how else is Jones supposed to ensure his Chinese blockbuster gets funded for the planned second and third adventures?