If you’re a fan of Blizzard, Warcraft, the art of Blizzard properties, or anything Blizzard touches… You’re in for a treat.
I was invited to attend an IMAX 3D advance screening of Warcraft tonight (6/7/16) at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco and I’m happy. Why? Well, remember that feeling when you first saw Iron Man in theaters? That feeling that for one split second that Tony Stark was as real as everyone in the theater and could have made that suit? That’s how I felt while watching Warcraft.
My knowledge of Warcraft lore isn’t as extensive as most hardcore fans. I had played the original Warcraft on my Apple Performa 6200 way back in the day and played about 40 hours of vanilla WoW before calling it quits. In all honesty, my expectations were lower than low for the film. I expected a flimsy script, mediocre acting, and the visual effects being the only thing that would carry the film. A cash grab meant to pull at the heartstrings and wallets of some of the most hardcore of hardcore fans in the video game industry. This was not the case at all in my opinion. The film holds up and except for a little plot hole, that I didn’t realize until someone behind me mentioned it, the story holds up.
The feel of the film felt like something Blizzard had complete control over or those working on the film along with the actors had real respect for the franchise, one that’ll be 22 years old this coming November. From the glowing effects on some of the characters eyes, casting of magic spells effects, detail of statues, souls exiting bodies, the roof textures of buildings, the exact colours used (I was able to pick them out and reference them from box art to cinematic), all scream Blizzard and nothing else. This wasn’t the let down of expecting to see the classic image of Optimus Prime from the 80’s cartoon that is engrained in my mind only to be shattered when seeing the ungodly hunk of metal Michael Bay rendition that did no respect to the 80’s cartoon version of Optimus I’ve held onto since my childhood. These were the locations, buildings, character styles easily able to be identified from the games. Hell, I was even thinking Terran Space Marines at times when looking at the armor the humans wore in the film. The Starcraft Terran Space Marines were modeled after the human knights in Warcraft right?
The story and character development was well done. I connected with the characters, didn’t feel like I was missing anything story wise since I’ve never played any of the WoW expansions (other than knowing the names of the expansions and new races). I knew what was going on, some back story on the characters was revealed in logical ways, and in the end learned a little about the lore of the world of Azeroth. Having seen glimpses of some of the other races that inhabit the world I’m excited to see how future films could include blood elves, dwarfs, gnomes, the undead, trolls, and other races. Now that’s not to say that those well versed in the world of Warcraft might see some changes made to lore from the video game franchise to be more appealing to a wider audience, but I’d say that it’s as close as you’re going to get. With that said, small little nods and references were made through the film that I even picked up on. The cries of a Murloc (that sounded exactly as they do in Hearthstone) in a river, references to the boomstick (the weapon my Dwarf Hunter character I created wielded ), and the feel of watching battles from a birds eye view (RTS style) taking place gave me the feeling I was playing the game. All these little things came together and brought to life what the video games of Warcraft have created over the past two decades. Azeroth is real.
The film felt polished and I don’t think that any more could have been done to improve the film. If memory serves correct the history of getting this movie made took years and had many road blocks along the way. The classic Blizzard saying of “when it’s done” rang in my head as I was watching. This might have been one reason why it took so long for the film to be released, Blizzard wanted it to be up to their standard and something their rabid fanbase would appreciate. I think they did the franchise justice by making the film they did, the way they did.
The acting, movement of the CGI characters, and believability of everything kept me hooked and believing I was looking through a portal into this amazing fantasy world. Ben Fosters performance stole the show personally and I cheered each time he was on the screen. He LOOKED like he was a powerful mage and I was invested as to how his characters story would unfold through the film. Second to Ben, Daniel Wu was as much as an evil orc warlock one could be. The way that both of these characters were portrayed and represented stole the show from the two main hero’s of the film and the rest of the cast.
Beginning to wonder if all this nonsensical late night writing will ever come to an end? Yes, it is close to an end. You’re probably wanting to know if Warcraft is worth seeing. Yes, this is a film you want to go see. Whether you’ve been playing since the days of the original RTS, have hundreds of hours in WoW and are in a top guild of a server, or a casual fan like myself, I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy this film. I also have to recommend that you see it in IMAX 3D. The grandness of some of the scenes and the way that some frames are shot were made for being seen in IMAX 3D. For reference, I’m NOT a fan of seeing films in 3D, but this was 3D done well and felt it needed to be seen in 3D in addition to on a large screen to totally suck you into Azeroth and to experience all the fine details of the film. I’m looking forward to seeing Warcraft again in the theaters and owning it on Blu-Ray once it’s released. If you’re wondering about the action and battle scenes, they are on par with the original Lord of the Ring films and surprisingly there wasn’t as much of a love story as I was expecting. Overall, I think there’s something for everyone in this film to say the least.
Some information from early box office estimates in China, Warcraft has beat Age of Ultrons pre-sale numbers and is closing in on Furious 7’s pre-sale records according to Collider. Interesting enough, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that fan reception in Germany and Russia is positive. I have a feeling that even with current low critical reviews and rating before the wide release on Friday, Warcraft will do well with old fans and with newcomers to the franchise that have never played any of the games. I’m hoping that this is the first of many Warcraft films to come.