Caelestis: IP, were you looking forward to a Warcraft movie?
Insomnia Princess: Not until I heard they were making one. As soon as I knew it was a thing, I was looking forward to it.
Caelestis: That’s the thing with video games: I don’t think even fans really said, “I want a movie about this.” Now here we have Warcraft, the movie, and as an outside to Warcraft lore, I was puzzled by some of – indeed, a good deal of – this movie.
Insomnia Princess: Technically the movie adaptation was taken from the books Rise of the Horde and The Last Guardian but I imagine a majority of the gamers who play Warcraft haven’t read the books. What is it that puzzled you?
Caelestis: I think one of the big hurdles for me was understanding the politics. I don’t know a whole lot about Warcraft, but I do know that there is a Horde and an Alliance, and since the Alliance has beautiful humans and the Horde has orcs, I could draw my own conclusions about which side ostensibly has the moral high ground – or at least that’s the lingering effects of reading Tolkien. I didn’t realize right away the movie depicted events prior to the game and that the Alliance hadn’t been established yet, so that threw me. I also didn’t get the Horde faction politics for the same reason, and indeed much of the movie had strife among Horde factions that I didn’t always follow.
Insomnia Princess: This was an origins story film, basically. It was based on the books but was clearly adapted some for film and to show both sides of the story. Rise of the Horde was the book which tells the story of the Orc Horde forming. The Last Guardian is the book that describes how the humans reacted to this Orcish invasion. So the movie alluded to the other races but this story was never intended to be about them anyway. World of Warcraft fans most likely had the impression the film would be set more in the timeline of WoW. Not that any of that applies to you, being that you’ve not played any of the games. I think the biggest reason the movie got bad reviews is that people were calling it a “film adaptation of World of Warcraft” and that’s not what it was meant to be. It’s not a “video game movie” in the traditional sense.
Caelestis: I don’t think that was an unreasonable impression on their part. I guess if you told me there’s going to be a movie about Warcraft, I would think it’s going to tell me about the Alliance and the Horde, since those are the fundamentals of who is who. It doesn’t really matter in the long run; I grasped it easily enough, as would any outsider to the lore, although the harder thing to understand was the whole thing with the Guardian being – oh yeah, spoilers – corrupt. I mean, I saw it coming a light-year away, but it was like, “I’m here. I’m good. Except I’m not.” I think they could have delved into that a little more.
Insomnia Princess: The first game in the franchise was Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. It was the origin story. This movie was based on that game, not on WoW. I don’t disagree on your comments about the Guardian.
Caelestis: I will say up front I didn’t dislike the movie but it did leave me scratching my head at times. Since we’re talking about the Guardian, there’s a scene where he casts a magical barrier that separates the humans’ commander from his son and leaves the son to die on his own, slaughtered by an orc horde. Then, there’s one scene of the commander drinking himself into a stupor and then he snaps out of it in the next scene. Pacing was this movie’s biggest problem. There were edits that almost seemed like they were accidents, such as a quick shot of the commander telling his bird to fly home, spliced between an otherwise normal scene at the base of the Guardian’s tower. I was like, “Uh….did I miss something?”
Insomnia Princess: I thought that first scene with the Guardian was done that way intentionally. It was depicting his inner struggle with the Fel and show his transition. Had he been himself, that never would have happened.
Caelestis: Perhaps. A lot about the Fel was left unexplained, and I suspected that was intentional as a possible sequel hook. The Guardian sure spent a lot of time lecturing the audience about it, and at one point he talks to the orc girl about the Fel and temptation, etc. etc. Was I reading too much into it, or was he her father?
Insomnia Princess: No, Garona was a halforc, but not half human. Gul’dan bred one of his orcs with a draenei female (an orc prisoner) and create Garona. She was raised with the orcs, as the movie portrays, but she was never fully accepted as one of them. So on point to what you said, the movie didn’t do anything to explain Magus Medivh. He was actually corrupted before birth and was possessed by the spirit of Sargeras, a demonlord. None of the other Guardians knew this, nor did Medivh himself until the end when Sargeras came forward from within him. At least, that’s the story in Warcraft lore. If they intended to change that in the movie, they didn’t explain it. Sargeras is the one who gave the orc warlock Gul’dan his powers of the Fel and the ability to open the Dark Portal at the beginning of the film.
Caelestis: Again, I’m sure that’s intentionally done to have more to talk about in another movie. The problem is that it leaves open these holes for the uninitiated who are left wondering how it came to be that the Guardian got corrupted in the first place. I think it would have been a sound idea for the film adaptation to explore that, even it was to show the Guardian struggling with the weight of his responsibilities with protecting the kingdom and, in a moment of weakness, accepting the Fel in a Faustian deal to be strong enough to save the kingdom, only for that to be his undoing. As it was, he was just a dude in a robe casting magic spells and being not-secretly evil.
Insomnia Princess: He was a mage possessed by a demon since birth. The demon would take over and make decisions for him and he wouldn’t know nor remember. I agree they should have explained it better.
Caelestis: Enough nitpicking, though. What did you think of the movie overall?
Insomnia Princess: I liked it. The CGI was a bit much at times. I know all the actors who played the orcs did so with motion capture but there were times it looked odd. It took away from the immersion. Many weapons in the movie are modeled after weapons in the game and they did a great job replicating the capital cities and such. Players will recognize all this, which is a bonus. Overall, I liked the story but I agree that they fell short in some areas at explaining it to someone who is not familiar with Warcraft. They had 10 years to create this, you’d think they’d not mess that up.
Caelestis: Wow, it was in development for that long?
Insomnia Princess: Blizz announced it in a press release in 2006. I don’t think a script was written until 2008. But apparently that script was ditched entirely somewhere along the way. They announced WoW, their MMORPG about 10 years before it was actually released too, so it would seem this is Blizz’s “thing”.
Caelestis: Okay, fair enough. Do we know anything about the original script?
Insomnia Princess: Yeah, sort of. lol It was written by Chris Metzen and he said at BlizzCon (2008, I think) that it would not be a rated G or PG film. He alluded it would be hardcore and said “It’s not called PillowfightCraft.” But when they got Duncan Jones to direct, they used a script by Charles Leavitt. I don’t know why.The original Orcs vs. Humans story was always meant to be gritty, violent, and about well… war. It’s cool to see all the things you recognize from WoW come to life in the movie but the original plans for the movie were not to have a cartoony feel to it at all. I wonder if all the reworking of the film is why it sometimes seems disjointed. I heard a lot of critics say, “It was too dark. It didn’t feel fun and goofy like WoW.” Well, it wasn’t supposed to. I think that was lost in translation, however.
Caelestis: That seems like an odd comment to me because, for all the joking and such that is in WoW, the basic premise is two factions at war. I do feel bad for Duncan Jones, though. He lost his father, the late David Bowie, during production, and I believe his wife was also diagnosed with cancer during production, so this movie must have been very trying on him, only for critics to say, “Meh.”
Insomnia Princess: Yeah, that’s the thing. The original Warcraft games were RTS games, like StarCraft. WoW, the MMORPG, brought different elements to the Warcraft world, for obvious reasons. The characters are cartoony, it has pop culture references, and jokes galore. I think many people thought a movie adaptation would follow along with that, hence the disappointment many critics expressed. They did put a lot into this movie, though. I read somewhere a while back that they hired a linguist and made up a completely original dialect for the orcs. Lots of hard work by Jones and his crew, all to have critics tear it apart. I’m sure that was hard on him with all he had going on in real life. Also, the movie was set to release the same month as the new Star Wars movie, which is why they pushed it out to summer 2016 instead. It really would have tanked if it came out in Dec.
Caelestis: To be fair, Warcraft did break all the records in China for some reason.
Insomnia Princess: Because, China. 🙂 Yeah, it broke records over there, didn’t it?
Caelestis: Didn’t it do even better than Star Wars over there?
Insomnia Princess: Yes, it did. $47M its first day in China and The Force Awakens only did $30M or something like that its first day. The thing is, China loves the Warcraft story. It’s huge over there. In the US, people were expecting a “WoW movie”, not a “Warcraft movie”. It actually did well in several other countries, taking #1 spots in Egypt, Denmark, Thailand and some others I don’t recall right now.
Caelestis: So apparently America is too snooty for a Warcraft movie.
Insomnia Princess: As a result of its popularity in other countries, it is technically the most successful video game movie of all time. So since we’re talking about video games movies… there’s a fun little stat. lol I don’t know if they’re too snooty, or just confused about what it was supposed to be in the first place. lol
Caelestis: Well, being the most successful video game movie of all time is not a high bar as we all know. Still, I wasn’t hostile to this movie like I was with the Angry Birds Movie, so it had that in its favor. I guess people’s expectations varied wildly. I know I was expecting the human commander to perform like he wasn’t trying to be Aragorn but without any of Viggo Mortensen’s charm, but it seemed to work for the rest of the movie-going world.
Insomnia Princess: Over $400 million worldwide, it beat out the previous record holder, Prince of Persia, as well as your favorite, The Angry Birds Movie. :p Anyway, his acting didn’t bother me as much as it did you, I don’t think.
Caelestis: Probably not, but it’s because I’m a snooty American, obviously. So, any final thoughts, IP?
Insomnia Princess: I think it’s worth watching and probably got a little more hate than it deserved. It wasn’t the greatest movie ever but it wasn’t the worst, either. I enjoyed it for what it was, as I said, minus those times the CGI got in the way.
Caelestis: I’m inclined to agree. Like I said, I wasn’t opposed to this movie, even after sneering in general at the idea of video game movies lately, so this is as close as we’ll get to me recommending a video game movie any time soon.
Insomnia Princess: Well, that’s about as good as it gets from Cael regarding a video game movie, I think. 🙂 We should just leave it at that.
Caelestis: IP, were you looking forward to a Warcraft movie?