Let’s be honest game to movie transitions are never that great, even the ‘better’ ones are questionable. These days, it’s tough to create a successful movie crossover because the majority of video-games are interactive movies anyway, take The Last of Us as an example.
I was pleasantly surprised by the release of Warcraft, a movie take on the Blizzard’s popular MMORPG. Initially, I thought a WoW movie would have been relevant back in 2010 when it’s subscriber count blew the minds of the community. However, most recently WoW has been seeing a steady decline in its subscriber count so the release was a bit odd.
Most online MMORPGs having a sub count of 7 million users would be heralded as a monumental success, but for Blizzard it’s not. Reports suggesting they have seen a steady decline in users of around 44% (2015) has caused most people to begin writing WoWs popularity off. Perhaps the WoW movie was an attempt to attract those lost subscribers back, even though in my humble opinion Blizzard still have a pretty solid sub base.
Turning to the movie, these movies are the type of movies critics love to hate. I feel these days ‘Critics’ openly go out of their way to pan any movie to game transition. I’m not saying these professional reviewers are wrong, that wouldn’t be fair, but when you compare IMDbs critics to your regular movie goer reviews, there’s a significant difference.
The whole world of Warcraft is set amongst a rich backdrop of a CGI world and it’s an impressive feat on screen. It boasts an impressive onscreen world that rivals most real life environments.
The main characters of the film, the Orcs, are completely constructed of CGI only. All of them. The characters express emotions in a manner which makes it feel like they are being portrayed by a real life actor. Warcraft shows us the development of CGI over the last few decades, and when done right it can be used for pretty much everything. Don’t get me started on the CGI in The Mummy Returns, that’ll be saved for another article.
The characters are another aspect of the film which really stood out for me, and in particular the character of Gul’dan. Gul’dan is the main antagonist of the film, possessed by dark magic called Fel magic, he basically wants to do what any good evil Orc wants to do, and obliterate the human’s world for his own. From what we see of Gul’dan, he is actually pretty intimidating to look at and has zero capacity of mercy toward anyone who may defy him. A perfect villain. The only disappointment of the characters is that the movie moves so quickly that there isn’t any real insight into them, or to the extent where we spend some quality time with them. Warcraft was squeezed into a 2 hour movie game romp, but in my view, the movie could have been easily pushed to a 3 hour long feature piece.
The action set pieces are thoroughly enjoyable and it’s certainly what sets this movie apart from other gaming films. There is one simple scene, where the orcs first face the humans, it was an intense battle that was engaging to watch. The Orcs mounting their wolf life creatures, and completely tearing the human species apart. It was no LOTR epic battle at every minute, but it the set action pieces certainly grabbed my attention. If you are a fan of fantasy, then this movie will give you everything that you will crave for. There are moments of a fight with a demon, a newbie mage and a battle with a Griffon landing its talons on a horde of Orcs. It is exciting stuff, that certainly engaged me with WoW’s envirmonmentf.
Overall, I enjoyed this video-game to movie transition. Please ignore the reviews by ‘critics’ online and give the film a chance if you are into video-games generally. The beauty of this film is that you don’t have to be a WoW nut to watch the film. Obviously, as a video-game fanatic I am familiar with what WoW is, but I have not played the games myself. The movie really eases you in to the fantasy world of the Orcs and humans waging war.
Warcraft is now the highest grossing video-game film of all time, just pipping Prince of Persia: Sands of Time for the top spot in the history books. It may have been universally panned by critics everywhere, but clearly, something was done right here.