Okay look, I have never played the MMO World of Warcraft, or “WOW” as the cool (maybe?) kids call it. In fact, as I typed this I had to google “MMO” because I wan’t even sure what it stood for. It’s “massively-multiplayer online”, there saved you 30 seconds in case you are as willfully ignorant as I. Of course I know of the game, and I have a few friends who have played it and enjoyed it, hell maybe some still do. But I knew out of the gate that it wasn’t for me; none of those types of games are. I like games that require less of my time and have a definite end, so I figured, “Hell, Warcraft the movie has a runtime of 2 hours and 3 minutes, I’ll give that a shot and then maybe I’ll play through all the Uncharted games again.”
But I’m not really telling the truth. The ONLY reason I was even the teensiest bit interested in seeing Warcraft is because it is directed and co-written by Duncan Jones. I’m a huge fan of Jones’ Moon and to a somewhat lesser degree Source Code. The man makes interesting, original science fiction movies and his dad is David Bowie. Yeah, I wanted to see Warcraft on pedigree alone. In fact, while I didn’t get the chance to see it in the theater, I was rooting for this movie at the box office because I knew if it was a success, Jones would likely get a blank check to do whatever he wanted next – and “what’s next” is the movie that I really wanted to see. Think Christopher Nolan getting to make The Prestige and Inception after the successes of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Warcraft ended up flopping badly in the US at $47 million, but did manage to rake in over $433 million worldwide. Turns out this WOW shit is really popular in China, but guess what? The studio only gets 25% of the take in that market. Shit. Forbes has a really good article on how this movie that made nearly half a billion dollars was still a huge money sucking turd bomb.
“What’s next” for Jones is expected to be Mute, a spiritual sequel to Moon which I’m about to smack some fools to see. It’s supposedly being released on Netflix in 2018 but it seems there have been some delays. Anyway, back to Warcraft.
Here’s the deal – Warcraft isn’t terrible. But it’s also not that great. I debated if I even wanted to write about it because the longer I thought about it, the more dull and uninteresting I found it to be.
Visually, it really is spectacular. So much so that I’m sorry I missed it in theaters. But it’s a movie clearly made for the fans of the game. To everyone else it feels pretty damn derivative. I will give it credit for having some complex characters on both sides who are struggling with honor over duty, and for killing off some of its most interesting characters. That takes balls. But that also doesn’t usually translate into a popular movie, I’m sorry to say.
But now I’m already bored writing about the movie itself and struggling with the thought that I have to look up the cast on IMDB if I want to even get close to any of the character names spelled correctly. I call out the Orcs in my title, but that’s racist. The human names are just as stupid.
I think the biggest problem with this movie is that there is a mythology and character development that only resonates with people who have played the games and know how and where things are going. Shit, I didn’t even realize that game had a narrative until I asked someone I knew played it, but as I watched the movie, I couldn’t shake the feeling the entire time that I was missing something.
As a basic Sword & Sorcery, Orcs vs. Humans, Good Magic vs Bad Magic movie it’s fun for the most part, but it really could have done with a bit more levity. Everything is so serious it makes Lord of The Rings seem like Pineapple Express at times. Most of the humor is from the orc, Durotan (yes, I had to go to fucking IMDB for that name) and if you are relying on orcs in your fantasy movie to provide the humor, you’re kind of fucked right out of the inter-dimensional portal (yes, this movie has one of those too).
After I finished watching Warcraft, I wanted to declare it the next John Carter, a movie I find to be so wonderful that I still don’t understand the inexplicable critical backlash it received. John Carter is the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strike Back. Unfortunately that movie suffered from inept marketing and an audience that felt it was derivative as well, but ironically of the exact property that ripped it off in Star Wars. I wanted to write this article about that one or two movies a year that critics love to hate for no other reason than it seems like the trendy position to take, but unfortunately Warcraft doesn’t fall into that category. It’s tepid film-making at best, but if you talk to a fan of the game, they really, really liked it, and that’s pretty great. Of course you want to gain a broader audience with your movie, but if you make a movie about a video game that the players of that game like a lot, that’s a very good definition of success. It’s just too bad there weren’t enough of them to warrant a sequel.
That last paragraph felt like a pretty good conclusion so to make it to 1000 words I’m going to share some of the stupid character names in this movie. You can guess Human or Orc for yourself, I can’t fucking remember myself.