Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Warcraft Movie (Spoilers!)

The Warcraft movie has come out in the States as of last Friday and despite very polarized reviews with critics disliking the movie and fans loving it, the box office numbers seem to be favorable. More importantly, because of the huge disconnect between the reviews due to apparent biases from both sides, I hinted at the possibility of reviewing the movie myself. While I'm not objective, I would like to think I'm jaded against hype and skeptical enough to criticize the movie's shortcomings. At the same time, I'm wouldn't be as inclined to dumpster the movie for being a video game movie, pushing a political agenda, or the like.

However, my article history has shown that I'm not exactly the best at writing in a typical review format, so instead I'm going to list out what I thought about the movie. These opinions will be split into a spoiler-free and spoiler-heavy section and while I'll be using some ugly Javascript to hide the spoilers, it may be revealed to you by default if you use certain browser extensions, so beware. With that said, here's my thoughts:

Spoiler-Free Thoughts

Since a lot of the criticism of the movie seems to be related to the plot, the thoughts here are going to be a little lacking. Hopefully they're still substantial enough to provide something of an impression.
  • The burden of knowledge, especially for a general audience, seems to be addressed okay, but there is quite a lot of exposition early on. In particular, there are frequent jumps from setting to setting.
  • What I particularly liked about the approachability of the film plot-wise was that there were parts of the movie where Warcraft universe concepts were explained to characters that also relieved some inquiries a viewer may have after watching previous scenes without coming off as an insult to their intelligence.
  • The varied settings, which thankfully focused to a few as the explosive exposition died down, were well done. It's not even a matter of being faithful to the original as much as a mix of wondrous fantasy and gritty reality in the movie's world.
  • While we're still on this, I appreciated the grand scale the movie tries to set from the settings to the action. It was very enjoyable to see armies of modest size clashing with each other and the smaller action scenes seemed carefully crafted as well (except a certain one). On the other hand, this is coming from someone who's still pissed off with what happened to the Eragon movie, so there's a good chance I'm biased and easy to impress.
  • One gripe I had based on trailers and promo footage was clashing CG. It's not as bad in the feature possibly due to the motion, though I will say that the shiny armor the humans were wearing could've stood to have more filth and gore in the heat of combat. The CG was definitely distracting enough at times to kill the immersion.
  • It might've just been me or because I really loathe watching anything through 3D glasses (it was disorienting), but it was a little difficult to keep track of some of the human characters. Their physical characteristics seemed a little too similar especially when they're donned up in armor. It may also have to do with some characters generally not being too memorable due to personality and acting problems, which I'll explain further in the spoilers section
  • While the pacing of the film isn't exactly the best considering there's a lot of scenes that seem brief and only largely serve the purpose of feeding condensed tidbits of information to the audience, the ending more rushed than that. Scenes were really brief by that point and it felt like the movie was low on running time to work with. More on this in the spoilers section.
Spoiler-Heavy Thoughts

In this section I express criticism that will spoil the movie's plot. Do not click the button below if you want to avoid spoilers, even if you know the Warcraft lore.

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Final Statements

What these points boil down to is that despite my tendency to go against the popular opinion, which in this case is the polarized opinions of positive fan reviews and negative media reviews, I did like the movie and thought it was good relative to my expectations. However, the flaws that I think the movie has hold it back from being great or a masterpiece. If I had to give a score, I'd probably go with a 7 or so. I would recommend the movie to those who are interested in and/or enjoy fantasy settings, but don't go in expecting it to match up to other epics like Lord of the Rings... yet.

I might go watch the movie again. If I do, this article may be updated with additional thoughts. Now that I've seen the movie once, I can afford to scrutinize a bit more.

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