The battle for Azeroth has begun, and it is a fantasy epic that fans and non-fans alike will enjoy. You do not have to be a player of the massive game franchise to enjoy this film. If you are a fan of sword & sorcery type fantasy movies, then this is a film for you to enjoy. Being a fan of the lore and universe, however, will make the movie going experience even more enjoyable. Director Duncan Jones (Source Code, Moon) is a fan of the franchise and made the most of his opportunity to turn the Warcraft Universe into a movie series.
Jones enlisted a cast of mostly up and coming stars to help tell the first story of the Orcs and Humans War. Beginning with Vikings star Travis Fimmel (Anduin Lothar) and adding the likes of: Dominic Cooper (King Llane Wrynn), Paula Patton (Garona), Ben Foster (Medivh), Toby Kebbell (Durotan/Antonidas), Ben Schnetzer (Khadgar), Robert Kazinsky (Ogrim Doomhammer), Clancy Brown (Blackhand), Daniel Wu (Gul’dan), Ruth Negga (Lady Taria), Anna Galvin (Draka) and Callum Keith Rennie (Moroes).
Considering this movie had to use so much motion capture and CGI to give us the massive Orcs that would be the invading Horde, the acting was superb on both sides of the equation. Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Ben Schnetzer shone for the human side of things. Foster was brilliant in a role that is very integral to the story being told. Ben Schnetzer could have had one of the performances that become known as a break out performance. Dominc Cooper and Travis Fimmel continue their hot streaks as both have garnered small screen fame with the likes of Preacher and Vikings respectively.
On the Orc side of things Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell and Daniel Wu gave amazing performances. Patton did not have as much CGI surrounding her as she played the half human/half orc Garona. Kebbell made a convincing Durotan, the honourable Chieftan of the Frostwolf Clan. Wu was absolutely diabolical in his performance of the Fel corrupted Orc, Gul’dan. As far as fantasy films go, the acting was on par with the likes of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Duncan Jones and his writing team of Chris Metzen (Blizzard Entertainment – Senior Vice President, Story and Franchise Development) and Charles Leavitt (K-Pax, In the Heart of the Sea) brilliantly adapted the lore from the very first Warcraft real-time strategy game and snippets from books: Rise of the Horde and The Last Guardian. Long-time fans may notice a few deviations from the lore, but that is to be expected in most adaptations of films. The plot is a relative familiar one in the world of fantasy: One race is trying to make its mark and stake its claim to the lands already inhabited by another race. Betrayal, magic, sword-play, politics and honour are the hallmarks of any good fantasy film, and this movie has it all.
The battle scenes in this movie are well crafted: from the skirmishes in the early parts of the film; to the full on epic battle between Orcs and Humans that is the peak of the third act. The CGI is seamless in most scenes, but there were a few tiny moments where it was noticeable but not distracting. The sheer joy and excitement this film elicited was very real. The story has touching moments, thrilling moments and even some surprising moments – even for those who know the lore behind it all. This movie hits on many of the best parts of the Warcraft Universe and beautifully begins what could be a long and thriving franchise.
The stigma of video game adaptations should not even apply here due to there being so much actual lore and novels written. Is this movie for everyone? No, but then again there aren’t many movies that are for everyone. This movie does have Easter Eggs for the gamers and the fans of the lore, but also pieces together an epic story that really and truly is just the beginning.
When all is said and done this movie rates highly for me personally and I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre, and not just those who have played the game. Give Warcraft a chance to warm your heart and enrich your sword and sorcery senses.