I like video games. I like fantasy movies. I like Travis Fimmel. World of Warcraft is a huge video game based in a fantasy world. Warcraft is a movie based on World of Warcraft and it stars Travis Fimmel. So that would mean I really like Warcraft.
Almost. I really almost liked it.
In the end, I just sort of liked it. In that, “while I was watching all the insanity play out on the big screen I enjoyed myself, but upon the introduction of the end credits I almost immediately stopped caring about anything I had just seen.”
Here’s the story: the warmongering Orcs have devastated their homeworld and a demented Orc sorcerer, filthy with some bogus green magic, is looking to take over some new haunts. The humans of Stormwind, the great outpost of Azeroth, suddenly find themselves the first line of defense against the invading hordes.
At the forefront is Lothar (Fimmel), the most aggressive and lethal human warrior around. Faced with this new existential threat, he rushes to unite the Azeroth forces, including the enigmatic super-wizard Guardian (Ben Foster), to repel the Orc army.
Meanwhile, an Orc named Durotan is conflicted by the invasion and distrusts the sorcerer, leading him into a tenuous alliance with the humans—and a whole mess of vicious Orc politics, which, frankly, look fairly tame to what we’ve been seeing around here lately. What ensues is an explosion of CGI the likes the world has never seen before.
Which I’m cool with, to be honest. In fact, Warcraft boasts some of the finest visual effects to assault my optic nerves. The Orcs look incredible, with special kudos to the animators of Durotan. And most of them are rendered in broad daylight, so no cheating.
But what ultimately kept my enthusiasm for the film at bay was the one, nagging thought that, despite the humongous budget and the computing horsepower required to make it all happen, at the end of the day, it all just sort of felt like an extended LARP session.
Everyone gives it their best shot, belting out their lines with the sort of gravitas you’d expect from a realm-lord or a demigod wizard, but something about how the whole thing is presented just comes off as—cheesy. The costumes are too gaudy. The facial hair too manscaped. And everything is too clean. I don’t need opaque gun-metal gray grit, but fantasy successes like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings had that down and dirty look that made the world feel organic. Warcraft feels synthetic.
The Blu-ray’s a winner though: a slam-bang, gorgeous 2.40:1, 1080p transfer and a robust Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 audio mix come together to blistering A/V experience. Extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel, a motion comic and featurettes on the origin story, the video game’s fandom, the Warcraft Madame Tussaud’s exhibit and the ILM effect. Lastly, there’s a giant Blu-exclusive making-of documentary.