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warcraftWhen I first heard that they were making a Warcraft movie I was both happy and worried. Most video game movies suck and this movie would have to rely on a lot of special effects to tell the story.  Being a fan of and player of the game the movie is based on I was interested in seeing how they would put it together.  I can say that after seeing this film that I did enjoy it but not for the reasons I expected and I think overall this movie is pretty good.  Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead.

After destroying their home world, the Orc Horde, led by Gul‘dan, played  by Daniel Wu (The Man with the Iron Fists,) sends a small force of Orc warriors through the Dark Portal to the land of Azeroth with the hopes of building a similar portal and bring the rest of the Horde across.  One of the Orc Clan leaders, Durotan, played by Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,) begins to have doubts about Gul’dan and in particular his use of Fel Energy to power himself and fellow Orcs as it seems to destroy all it touches.  The humans of Azeroth, led by Anduin Lothar, played by Travis Fimmel (TV series Vikings,) the mage Khadgar, played by Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief,) and King Llane Wrynn, played by Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger,) are trying to figure out what is attacking them and why.  They manage to capture a female Orc named Garona, played by Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,) who tells them what is planned.  While Wrynn prepares his forces Khadgar and Lothar head to Karazan to ask for help from the protector of the land Medivh, played by Ben Foster (Lone Survivor,) who does so but at the same time possess a secret that may be the downfall of the alliance.

I have been playing the World of Warcraft game for about 8 years and before that in the late 1990’s I played with the strategy game that came first.  I say this because despite my knowledge of the lore, or history, in the game, I do not know the beginnings as well as I do the middle and current.  So I can’t say how much they changed the lore of the game to incorporate into the movie.  But from what I know, which isn’t much, the movies story is fairly close to the lore from the game.  For me that is the best thing about the movie because I found the story fascinating and quite good.  I do not feel you need to know the game to understand the movie, sure it helps, but I don’t believe people who know nothing of the game will be lost in the story. The story is more about the Orc invasion and the struggle Durotan has in watching Gul’dan lead the horde than it is about the alliance side of the war.  My knowledge of the game allowed be to enjoy it because I knew the names of the characters but don’t really know how they relate to the history.  But again, I am a fan of the story in the movie.  It got off to a little bit of a rocky start but it quickly got passed it and I began to be engrossed in the story.  For those Warcraft fans that know the story inside and out don’t be upset if they changed a few things, it happens to fans of books that get turned into movies and it’s a necessary evil.

It’s hard to comment on the acting because with the exception of Garona all of the Orcs had lots of CGI and I couldn’t really tell what expression was the computer at what would have been the actor.  It was so good that I had no clue that Gul’dan was played by an Asian actor.  But at no point did I say or feel that any of the actors were doing a bad job or just plain bad.  I did enjoy Paula Patton’s performance as Garona and Ben Schnetzer’s performance as Khadgar.

What I was also impressed with was the special effects of the film.  They did a great job of making all of the races of Azeroth look as real as possible.  I was surprised at how well the Orcs looked and well as the Draenei race.  I won’t say that they looked as perfect as a human but since they are created beings I believe they did the best that technology could create.   The landscape shots that they created to show the areas in and around Stormwind as well as Karazan and the Dark Portal areas were really nice as well.  The reason I sound surprised is that one of my worries is that this movie would have the feel of another fantasy role playing game turned horrible movie, Dungeon & Dragons.  That movie was poorly done on many levels.  Warcraft if definitely not Dungeons & Dragons and if anything it is closer to the Lord of the Ring movies in terms of look and feel of the scenery.

I was also surprised at the fight and battle scenes in the movie and not because of how they looked because those scenes were very nice as well.  What I was surprised at was how few there really were in the film.  The makers of the film made a conscious effort to give the story some thought and development and was as big a reason why I like this film as was the fight scenes and special effects.  I will be disappointed if this film is not nominated for an Academy Award for best Visual Effects.  I have seen lots of movies this year with special effects and all of them are behind Warcraft.

To those of you who have never heard of or cared to play the game but you liked the Lord of the Ring Movies then you can see this movie and should have a good time.  To my friends who play the game please keep open minds about the movie realizing that they had to change some things to make it into a movie.  I am a fan of the movie because it is fun and engaging.

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