First of all, fuck you.
It’s not very nuanced, that comes later, but I think it needs to be said.
At first, I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but since you’ve proven to be patronizing and generally not care what the majority of people think about the garbage fire that is the Warcraft movie, I have decided to take a different approach to my review here.
Which is to blame it all on you.
And there is a lot of blame to place. There were so many bad decisions in this film, I was convinced that somehow, Blizzard must have had some hand in it. One person, who’s apparently made some decent movies in the past, could not make this great an error. Yet there it is, in theaters now, parading around as the largest pile of shit since an Elephant with the runs.
But now having played Overwatch, and seeing the bright and vibrant world Blizzard made, I see now that perhaps they didn’t have as much to do with the movie as previously thought. Instead, they left it all to you, Duncan. Because they trusted you.
And this was what you delivered?
So you and me are going to go through it together, since you obviously didn’t take the time to do a run through before you brought this Hindenburg Tragedy to theaters.
A Butchered Canon
This isn’t nearly my biggest complaint, but it begs mentioning. To start, if people were expecting Warcraft to follow the games and retell the story they’ve all grown to love on the big screen, you can go ahead and check your happiness at the door, cause that’s not what the movie is here to do. The primary goal of the film is to make money, rather than to make the already great story bigger and better than it could be in a game while simultaneously bringing in a new audience to the franchise.
Fuck that noise.
Instead, the movie bastardizes some of the best moments in the lore of Warcraft. And I get it, you can’t have everything in the original source material in a film. Something has to give in order to fit that much into a shorter format, and I’m willing to accept a few liberties on behalf of the director and crew in order to make something work better for film. But this was not the way to do it.
People always say that the book was better, or in this case, that the game was better. Most creators just have to ignore that criticism, you can’t please everyone, right? But why is it that you think people say that in the first place?
Maybe it’s because the source material that’s being adapted was well thought out and planned so that things happened a certain way. Characters grow and change and act in response to other characters and the events of the story, and most of that has been established with some great flow. You have to be careful changing anything, otherwise you risk upsetting plot points that are supposed to be a big deal later. Achievements get undermined and characters undergo drastic changes to the point where they aren’t the same characters anymore.
Take the whole issue with Kine Llane. In the game, and in the novelization (which lays out really clearly what’s supposed to happen and why it happens, just saying) Garona still kills Llane, but not on the battlefield. The reason that Stormwind falls is because he’s killed in the midst of the sack in the throne room, which ensures that the humans will lose. The city of Stormwind has to fall, it’s essential to Varian’s character since that’s how he gets captured and so on and so forth. But in the movie, it seems like Stormwind won’t need to fall, thus making all of the things that are supposed to happen to Varian and the other humans null and void?
It’s all messed up now, and those characters will be forever changed as a result, they won’t really be those characters that we like as much. And all because the movie didn’t think it could spend enough time setting all of this up. It will be convoluted, people won’t understand, it will be too confusing.
What are you talking about?
Not that length will make the movie better, but Lord of the Rings was willing to be a long movie since there’s a lot to talk about. Just like in Warcraft, characters travel around and are not always together, so they have to take time in each place in order to explain what’s happening and dwell with the characters. That movie is a total hit, and Warcraft thinks that it’s going to be too complicated? You would need a PhD in Tolkien to really understand everything that was going on, but that didn’t stop Peter Jackson from making what he did. He assumed that the audience wasn’t five years old and could follow along, and as it turns out, they certainly can. You should have trusted us more, Duncan. We certainly don’t trust you anymore.
Who Are These People?
Since we’re on the subject of characters, this has to be the greatest source of bullshit next to a Texas Cattle Ranch.
None of these people resemble they’re counterparts. Oh, they look like they should, but it’s just like a mask covering up all the laziness underneath.
Oh look! Garona is green with little tusks! Oh and there’s Thrall! He’s not even supposed to be born yet, but fuck it! No one cares, and the only people who will care are the hardcore fans, and fuck them, Amirite?
The only way to really do this is to go through each character. That way, it’s possible to see just how many bad decisions were made, only only in changing the characters, but in the performances that were given. Just bare with me, I promise it will be informative.
Here we go…
Let’s start with Durotan and his wife. Here I feel we see some of the best good and the worst bad. Durotan mostly sticks to the notes of his character, but this whole fight with Gul’dan? Yea, that’s not real. His death is brutal and stupid and it’s really shame it had to be that way. Durotan is supposed to die with his wife together after they’ve been living in the Alterac Mountains for a while, felled by assassins, which then leads to Thrall getting picked up. A lot more true death than the one they dished out in the movie, which felt really cheap. I didn’t feel what I was supposed to feel, something I’ll get to in a little bit. Draka doesn’t just up and leave Thrall in a river, no one really does the Moses thing. Turns out, it’s not really that smart to send kids down the river since the little boat thing will probably flip over. And if not, the baby just dies of exposure, but whatever, it’s just a movie, so fuck it who cares?
Ogrim isn’t a Frostwolf, he’s a Blackrock. It means a lot that the two of them get along, they come from clans that would have normally fought, so they’re friendship really bridges gaps, which is then what Durotan will attempt to do later with the humans. He doesn’t really ever betray them, but they, it’s just a movie, so what does it matter that his character pulls a 180 and just goes behind his back?
Gul’dan is not buff. Who the fuck thought that would be a good-oh wait! Trust me, I think I know. That’s kind of the whole thing about the Fel, it really takes its toll on the body. You don’t get to be an awesome warlock and a buff dude at the same time. I swear I was screaming when he started taking off his robe. And speaking of the robes, that’s what has the weird horns and shit on it. Underneath that whole facade, he’s just a weak little Orc with some magic. I get that he was supposed to be the big bad guy, but Gul’dan has a way of convincing people to do things for him. He’s not the type to do things himself, he could get hurt and die after all. And he doesn’t pull the soul out of a deer to give to Thrall. I get that you wanted him to do creepy things like smoking a person (literally taking drags on a dudes soul just to show how edgy he is, wow I’m so impressed), but that was just unnecessary. Thrall’s born healthy, that was pointless and gave a crappy reason to why Thrall’s green. Great job, asshole, you fucked it up.
Ben Foster was already too young to play Medivh, but there it is. Not only that, doesn’t even look like he’s trying up there. You hear about actors putting it all out there, but Medivh looks like there wasn’t anything in him to give. He goes from scene to scene, good or evil, with the same expression. He’s tortured and troubled abrasive in all the wrong ways and it just makes anything that involves him boring when it’s supposed to be an interesting mystery about what the Guardian is hiding. Really dropped the ball there.
Khadgar is supposed to be Medivh’s apprentice, but apparently, that was just too much for Duncan, so he’s just a runaway from Dalaran for reasons. He says something about his parents and that he ran away, but not why or for what purpose. Apparently it’s a big deal that leads to his exile from the Mage city, which really seems to matter when he shows back up there for help only to be immediately taken to the big secret mcguffin hid away in the city. So apparently, not that big a deal. Why are you even here? Oh yea, because the entire story leading up to the war is supposed to be about you, so you’re here, but they don’t care about your story or your development, so too bad. Also you were supposed to be old at the end, but apparently, that would have strained the enormous CG budget just a little too much. Whatever.
Anduin is not supposed to be the focus of this story, yet they felt it necessary to make him the opposite of Durotan and focus on him way more than was comfortable. For one thing, Lothar doesn’t have any children, which is kind of the point. He’s supposed to be a father figure for his troops because of his lack of children, but apparently they needed a smaller rock to break next to a larger rock so the audience would start crying when it was appropriate (I did not cry, I was too angry). Having a son for the sole purpose of having that son die was so cheap a thrift store wouldn’t have taken it. And his reaction to his son dying? Priceless. Way to really act out there, Ragnar. Did I mention that’s Ragnar from Vikings up there? No? I didn’t think I needed to since he’s just reprising his role with a little more hair and bigger armor, but there it is. Lothar breaking down in the barracks is really the best part of the movie for me. He’s really trying to sell it, but it’s just embarrassing to watch him try to emote about something literally no one cares about. Great job dude.
Garona, you tried, but only as much as everyone else, which is not trying. You wanted me to care about you, but I still don’t. You want me to care about your relationship with these characters, but I don’t. And the decision to kill Llane on the battlefield so she would win honor and stop the fighting? Yea, that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen a movie do. And I’ve seen Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Yea, it was that contrived.
The Not So Silver Lining
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Still, there were three things that this movie did well, and I think it begs mentioning because it outlines the main flaw with the film.
For one thing, the CG is really great. It’s actually pretty beautiful, and you can definitely tell what each location is when they zoom out for the scenery. As great as it is to see those locations recreated, it felt a little cheap. All they had to do was take the assets from WOW and make them look better, so them making that look good wasn’t some great feat. Moreover, since we never spend any time in one place, it’s hard to feel grounded, like you’re actually immersed in the setting. But we’ll get to that.
The other two things are two scenes in the movie that almost make the movie worth seeing. Or it might just make you angry for what might have been.
The opening scene with Durotan and Draka talking about their child when they’re about to leave Draenor is pretty great. The story slows down a little and just lets the characters interact. It feels natural and because we open with the orcs, it drives home that they aren’t the bad guys in the movie even though they look different.
Same thing after Thrall is born and they’re hanging out in their tent. Draka hands Durotan his son and they’re making faces at each other and it’s a really sweet moment. There’s not a lot of action, and we get reminded what the stakes are. For a brief moment, the characters feel like they’re supposed to feel. This is what the movie could have been, but it wasn’t.
It’s Just a Movie
That’s really the whole idea here for Duncan, right? It’s just a movie, so we need to chill out. But I’m not really convinced that he even had the movie part down.
I swear the amount of times that the scene cutaway to a new location almost made me go to the hospital for whiplash. Each scene jumps from one to the other so fast, there’s no time to really get immersed in what’s happening. As soon as we start feeling like we’re getting into the action, BAM, switch to somewhere else. I know there’s a lot of characters and all of them are doing things, and it scares you Duncan, I know it does. But listen, Lord of the Rings had the same thing going on. So what’s the difference? That movie was great, and this one sucks. What gives?
Well, Peter Jackson wasn’t afraid to take some time away from the action. Characters got a chance to emote and feel things and most important, interact. We got a feeling for these sweeping settings because we got to spend a lot of time there. Scenes aren’t just jump cuts from one thing to the next, they take some time and the movie isn’t afraid to lull a little so the characters get a chance to act.
Everything is way too fast in Warcraft. I’m supposed to cry when Llane dies and really feel the betrayal from Lothar since his best friend ever just killed his other best friend, apparently, but I never felt like they were friends. They never spent enough time together to make it seem like they would be friends, they never did anything that would make them even strangers. Avengers takes time to let the characters pair off or hang out together and you can see immediately how everyone feels about the other. It forms relationships so their friendships feel real. All of these connections just felt forced and contrived, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. This isn’t how you write characters with this much history.
But hey, it’s just a movie right?
It’s a treasured story that a lot of people value. It has a lot of great morals about how we should treat those who are different from us and the problems with power and racism. These characters helped to shape who we are as people as we played them from game to game. It’s almost more powerful than a book, which some people also read, since we get to experience their stories first hand. There’s great lessons about inclusion and accepting people for their differences, lessons about uniting and fighting for a common cause. And that’s not something just the hardcore fans are going to understand. Even from a purely analytical perspective, this movie is a pox on one of the healthiest franchises in gaming history. Fans and newcomers alike won’t give this movie the time of day. You think the numbers in China are telling, but it’s just a ruse. I could get a lobotomized chimpanzee to tell me this movie was a piece of shit too runny to throw.
But that doesn’t mean shit to you, does it?
At first, I thought this was an act of love. Now I see that it was nothing but lazy, an IP and some intertextuality for a quick buck. You sold all of these beautiful characters and lessons for cheap, and all you can say is, “it’s just a movie.”? Fuck you, Duncan Jones. I won’t be sad when they kick you from the future projects, and I’ll even be happy when the next film you try to make bombs too. Because as it turns out, you don’t know how to write characters or make a movie, even when all the pieces are literally gifted to you already set in perfect place. You should be ashamed of yourself.
But chill dude, it’s just a criticism.