“Warcraft”: Muddled fantasy monster flick that could be fun, if you’re into that

warcraft

Grade: D+

Verdict: “Warcraft” has some surprising and engaging stuff, but it mostly failed to hold my attention.

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I’m sure many of you, dear readers, will have at least heard of Blizzard’s wildly popular computer strategy game “Warcraft.” Likely the name conjures up images of humans and mythical creature races of all kinds locked in battle, or, for the more invested, memories of hours spent behind a computer creating peons to build your barracks. If none of this rings a bell, imagine a computer game in which humans battle dwarves and other creatures, and you’ve pretty much got the picture. The “Warcraft” franchise has gained a new addition: a “Warcraft” movie, titled “Warcraft” so you know exactly who it’s marketed towards.

There’s stuff to like about “Warcraft” even if you’re not a fan of the game. It may be geared towards players but it’s accessible and comprehensible to those (like me) who don’t know a whole lot about the lore, and puts a surprising amount of emphasis on character. But this is “Warcraft,” so all that matters is whether you’re down to clown with some heavily CGI’d orc/human skirmishes.

The movie follows Anduin Lothar, a knight and brother of the queen, and Durotan, an orc chief fighting against the humans. The orcs and humans are battling over land, and an evil orc called Gul’dan is trying to control all the orcs through a fancy death magic called the Fel. Durotan’s mad because he doesn’t like the Fel and Lothar’s mad because of family stuff, and everybody’s fighting everybody.

“Warcraft”’s deal has always been battle, and there’s plenty of brawling but I couldn’t get into it. The battles just didn’t grab my attention, because I found so little of it visually interesting and didn’t care about everything else. There were a couple of great ridiculous moments that stood out, like an orc strangling a horse in one hand, which I begrudgingly admit is pretty metal.

However that boss-ass imagery didn’t keep me from snoozing for a solid fourth of the movie. To be fair, I blame that on the late hour and the empty theater (box office wise it’s not starting off strong, that’s for sure), but also on all the talking. “Warcraft” tried harder to have a plot and characterization than I expected. Director Duncan Jones wrote the script with Charles Leavitt, and they clearly wanted to add some depth to all the smashing. Their efforts were for naught, but props for trying.

And anyway, who cares? This is video game movie. Unless you’re a big lore fan the smashing’s probably going to appeal most. The franchise overpowers all.

Heck, I’m amazed that there were any moments where I liked the characters, one-note as they were. And they even have conflicting motivations! Warcraft in “Warcraft” is not just force and plunder like the game. There’s a lot of side swappery, people on the same team having different opinions and are secretly joining forces, opposing their people and sneaking behind backs.

It’s not quite interesting—muddled with cliches, with plenty of confusing slip ups in explaining why the war is happening in the first place– but I appreciated that any thought at all went into motives. (I can’t emphasize enough how little I expected going into this.)

Despite exceeding my expectations, “Warcraft” didn’t come together for me, so a D+ it gets. It will work for you if you like CGI monsters punching each other and don’t mind a bit of heavy plotting. It’s gonna be even better if you’re into the franchise and can point to familiar faces. If neither of those things sound like you, feel free to skip. It’s an acquired taste, I think, and you’ll know right off the bat if it’ll be your type of thing.

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