Tomorrow (or technically tonight), Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment’s most successful property), the latest movie to be brought to the big screen from the video game world, hits theaters. Based on the insanely popular Warcraft Series of real-time strategy (RTS), massive multiplayer online roleplaying (MMORPG), and collectible card games. There is quite a stigma about video game movies, specifically, that they are terrible. While this is something that I don’t want to disagree with, I do want to point out that Warcraft has the ability to elevate (not necessarily rescue) the genre. This means that I am arguing that Warcraft won’t necessarily be an amazing film, but it will be worth your time despite early reviews gleefully comparing it to Battlefield Earth and its unfortunate score on Rotten Tomatoes.
1. Duncan Jones
If you want to make a good cake, it’s best to start with great ingredients! Sometimes during cake making things can go wrong. It may not cook long enough or if you have a house full of rambunctious children, the cake could even fall in. Well, if you use awesome ingredients, then even a cake that falls in on itself a little bit can taste amazing.
I use this analogy– not because I believe Warcraft to be a fallen cake– to point out that this film has brought it someone who is passionate about the material and has the eye and determination to put together something that is worth experiencing. Jones is an up-and-coming director who’s credits currently include the very well received Moon and Source Code. Jones has proven that he is capable behind the camera and tackling high concepts is not out of his wheelhouse.
Is one of your favorite things about fantasy/sci-fi films the expanded universes found within (ie. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter)? Well, The Warcraft Universe is at least as big. There are innumerable characters and storyline. You have multiple planets (Azeroth, Draenor), dragons, zombies, orcs, trolls, elves, Old Gods, and even boring ol’ humans. There are stories of unity, justice, hope, loss, disaster, discovery, betrayal, kindness, and heroism. This film will obviously not be able to cover all of these things because its job is to plant our feet in the world. Again, I am not arguing that this will be the best movie you’ve ever seen, but I honestly think it’ll pique your interest to know a little bit more about these characters and settings. The best news I have heard about the film is that it could, if nothing else, do so well in China, alone, that we get to see where the story goes in future installments. Heck, I already can’t wait to see Duncan Jones first cut of the film that is nearly forty minutes longer than the theatrical cut.
3. The Lore
It’s been twenty-two years of growing and expanding for the worlds of Warcraft. So much has changed on the human home world of Azeroth since the first RTS gamers stepped foot in Blizzard’s first big success. As I mentioned previously, this universe is huge. It’s not just big for big’s sake– it is also deep. One of my favorite characters in all of fantasy is Thrall, War Chief of the Horde. He dominated all the stories told from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos through the continuing story in World of Warcraft. Sadly, he is not even around in the early days of Warcraft, which means this movie will primarily feature, Durotan, his father. That’s not a bad thing as the lore surrounding Durotan is extensive as well. Not a fan of Orcs (yet!)? That’s fine, there are some really great human characters who are well worth your time. Heck, So this isn’t the longest thing you read all day, here is a good primer just for the characters we’ll see in the Warcraft movie and that is just a scratching of the surface of some of the best characters in the entire fantasy world of Azeroth (Sylvannas, Arthas, Kael’thas, Garrosh). All that to say that if you really start to explore the world, you have the opportunity to add a world and lore to your fantasy nerd-verse that is ever-expanding and a whole lot of fun.
All this to say that I think this movie will be worth your time. I mean, of all the movie that come out during the year, I think Warcraft will be the one that has the potential to kick off something great. It won’t win any academy awards (except maybe visual effects), but it doesn’t have to in order to be fun and a great vehicle to shovel popcorn to. So, get your ticket, shake the video game stigma, and enjoy a world that many people, myself included, have been understandably devoted to for over twenty years. Wether you have played a single minute of this Blizzard Entertainment franchise, I think if you love fantasy, you’ll enjoy Warcraft.