Warcraft: The Beginning *SPOILER ALERT* Review
Director: Duncan Jones.
This has been long awaited for, by myself and fellow wowsters. I won't say gamers because people who play World of Warcraft are a difference breed of gamers, a bit like what New Yorkers are to the rest of America. This was a film I was both excited and apprehensive about, knowing the usual result of games being adapted into films. Read my 'Games on the Big Screen' to see what I mean.
Now, I am a avid gamer and a confessional 'vanilla' role-player of World of Warcraft, starting in 2005 and having been clean now for around six years. I have played the games from the first Warcraft game on PC and spent over a whole year, to the minute, of the maybe eighty years I might be lucky enough live, in the realm of Azeroth and beyond. I have made some good friends from around the real world, friends who still visit me and visa versa today. I lost many night's sleep staying up to do 'just one more quest', earned the achievement Loremaster and even attended the BlizzCon in Paris back in 2008. (Just to get my Tyrael mini pet.)
This could mean I'll be very bias regarding this review and, and or be unforgiving to the people behind the film. So, I went with a trusted friend who's never played Warcraft and knows nothing about the game so to get his opinion as viewer, but let's say, this film is really for the players, which does make it a challenge to please non-players.
The game itself is a phenomenal MMORPG franchise boasting millions of subscribers, larger than some country's populations. It's online economy has been reported to be larger than Bulgaria's and has players from all walks of life, from all over the world, from pornstars to politicians and film stars like Vin Diesel, Mila Kunis and even some of the cast of this film. (Robert Kazinsky! Bill Westenhofer! Put the laptop down! We're filming!)
The film is beautiful, luscious and vibrant, baring the game's neon enchantments and stunning landscapes. The scenery is recognisable and I could hear the crowd agree when seeing Ironforge and Stormwind brought to life. I, myself (my characters) having been drunk many a time in the Lion's Pride of Goldshire, (the real me doesn't get drunk, few would argue.)
There's a staggered pace to the film, which suggests a lot of edits, sometimes feeing like a lot of cutscenes missing the gameplay but it isn't bad enough to ruin the film. There's a good balance between the Alliance and Horde which pleases me greatly, showing that each side can be just as good and evil as each other.
Now the lore has been a little tweaked here and there, but the core of the storyline is very much evident and would be surprised to find hardcore players raging about the matter. We have to accept that some elements have to change for the bigger picture and being that the people at Blizzard were very much behind this film, the tiny glitches in lore can go unnoticed and the nods to the game that are 'dropped' are good enough.
Toby Kebbell is one of my favourite actors, especially in Guy Ritchie's 'RocknRolla' and Shane Meadow's 'Dead Man's Shoes'. He does the clan proud playing the hero Durotan, also playing a Mage for a small bit. Vikings star, Travis Fimmel played legendary Lord Commander Anduin Lothar extremely well. He reminded me of a sleeker Tom Hardy. Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Ghost Protocol) does a good Garona and Khadgar is well played by Ben Schnetzer. Ben Foster was brilliant as the twisted guardian, Medivh, though my only wish was for the fight to end with an ageing Khadgar. The only nerfed character was Dominic Cooper's King Llane Wrynn. I don't think he was strong enough and I understand he's not to overshadow Lothar, but, he's still a King and a main character at that.
I was a little disappointed game-composer, Jason Hayes didn't do the score here as his works on Warcraft have been amazing but, Game of Thrones' and film composer Ramin Djawadi does a fine job embellishing parts of Hayes' game score, highly dramatic.
At first I was undecided but looking back on it and refreshing my lore, I enjoyed it. Quite gruesome and pretty at the same time, the CGI is outstanding. 'Moon' and 'Source Code' director, Duncan Jones does a grand job that hopefully gives players and non-players the epic loot they have been waiting for. As for my non-player friend, he enjoyed it greatly, himself saying younger audiences would love this.
I can imagine some critics hating on this film but for what it is, it's a great tribute to the Warcraft world and I don't think it could have been done better (apart from casting King Llane) Not that anything has been announced, the UK's title 'Warcraft: The Beginning' might suggest a series. I would look forward to seeing more and can only assume it depends on the success of this film, whether they continue. It's definitely aimed at the more 'vanilla' players of the game, such as myself. I will go raid this again.
Did it make me want to play the game again? Hell yeah! But not in a Leeroy Jenkins kind of way. DING!!
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 7
Job Description: 9
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for sticking mostly to the lore as much as cinematographically possible and recreating Azeroth in true fashion.