Warcraft: Review - Video game movie done right

Written by: Pio Garcia

Film | May 31, 2016

blizzard warcraft

When video games are turned into movies, I have trepidations.

Yes it goes back to that very awful "Super Mario" movie wherein I was just completely lost. Like, what the hell happened there? That isn't the game! Or take for instance, the "Mortal Kombat" movie which was so bad that I wanted to gouge my eyes out for even laying my sight on it. Or it can be so damn bad like Van Damme saying he'll show you his Thailand in the "Street Fighter" movie.

And please, let's not start on Angelina Jolie's "Tomb Raider." Minus the shower scene, that thing totally sucked big time. The only video game movie I ever appreciated was probably "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children" (NO THE "SPIRITS WITHIN" IS NOT A FINAL FANTASY GAME MOVIE SO SHUSH!) and even then, the story there had a lot of holes but hey, fans never care.

Along came Blizzard, Duncan Jones, and that movie titled "Warcraft." And my faith in video game movies has been restored. You see, "Warcraft" is not just about the title. It's about the story.

The game of Warcraft is heavy on lore. And this is what made the game relevant. There is an actual story that can be turned into something else on the big screen and Duncan Jones really nailed it.

*SPOILER ALERT. Do not go beyond if you are not a Blizzard nerd, haven't played a drop of Warcraft, or think Warcraft copied from DoTA. I will also use terms that maybe alien to you if you don't have basic Azeeroth lore in your blood. You still wish to continue? Be my guest.*

Going inside the cinema, I was already stoked. The trailers from the movie, along with other snippets, really made me believe that this is going to be good. Blizzard did not skip on the details that made their in-game cinematics the greatest ever, and adding real humans made it feel more right (maybe because that footman during the Reign of Chaos opening credits looked really lame). Also, you just get giddy when the whole line was screaming "Lok Tar Ogar!," with bewildered girlfriends trying to shut up their nerdy boyfriends, with answers of "For the Alliance!!!" from the arriving supporters in blue (I was in red, for I am a Horde member through and through).


*SPOILER ALERT: Last chance for you, or by the Light I will purify your soul*

The movie fires off during the early days of the First Human-Horde war, as there was no formal Alliance yet that time, with the warlock Gul'Dan, played by Daniel Wu, opening the Dark Portal to lead the Horde to Azeroth. We were given a great sight of Hellfire Peninsula and the secret to the power of the portal itself: uncorrupted Draenei.

I was breathless with the way Wu played Gul'Dan. He was as real as the real Gul'Dan can get, similar to what we encountered in Warlords. He was EVIL. And nothing else mattered to him, he was willing to break traditions in order to gain power, and that's how Gul'Dan really was in the books ("Tides of Darkness" by Aaron Rosenberg), and in-game.

We all know why the Orcs invaded Azeroth through a portal at the Black Morass. Draenor, their homeworld, was dying. Of course this was due to Gul'Dan and his warlocks in the Shadow Council (wait, where were they in the movie?!) corrupting the once-vibrant land the Orcs peacefully shared with the Draenei. They needed a new home, and Gul'Dan needed a new place to grab power from.

But Travis Fimmel's Anduin Lothar was not going to have any of it. The "Vikings" star left me rooting hard for the Humans as he was just badass mowing down greenskins left and right, and acting as if he wasn't breaking any sweat while doing it. As it is, the legend of Lothar in the game, being the best warrior in the Warcraft universe was given justice by Fimmel. He portrayed the Lion of Azeroth as best as he can possibly be. I felt bad that his only son, and probably the very last of the Arathi line fell in battle with a great soldier's death. This gave Fimmel more character, making him more human than the grand bastion of swordmanship that his character was.

Meanwhile, Toby Kebbell's Durotan wasn't too shabby either, for being a mag'hari (brown-skinned, uncorrupted orc). He really stayed true to the character's sense of right, integrity, and honor. I think we were short-changed by the orc's virtue and character towards the long run in the movie but that's for another part. The other named Orcs like Blackhand and Doomhammer were also played greatly, especially with Rob Kazinsky, a hardcore Warcraft gamer himself, channelling his best Orc ever.

Dominic Cooper somewhat disappointed me with his Llane Wrynn that I had to call him Lame Wrynn. King Llane rivalled the Lion in terms of swordsmanship; he didn't need Lothar to protect him. They fought side by side, back-to-back. Although he had his grand moment in the last battle, Llane Wrynn seemed to pale in comparison to what his son was in-game (Bless your mighty spirit, my King Varian, chose of Lo'Gosh).  And he was supposed to be the better warrior.

All in all, the movie was carried by Fimmel and mostly, Wu. Every Gul'Dan scene was really vicious. Wu gave his all in portraying the mad orc and it was glorious. I'm already imagining Fimmel as a white-haired Lothar, swinging Ashkandi at Kazinsky's Doomhammer in maybe the second movie detailing the Second War?


Okay, time to deal with the bad stuff. And as much as there was a huge amount of great stuff, there were big gaffes as well, and they were really sticking out like a sore thumb.

One, where was the grand transformation of the Orcs? There were brown-skinned ones and green-skinned ones. They were all supposed to be green upon the start of the First War because they drank Mannoroth's blood. Why was Draka going through the portal heavy with Thrall? Why was Gul'Dan the only one with glowing eyes? Where was Grom Hellscream? Why the hell is Garona not ensorcelled to do Gul'Dan's bidding or something?  Oh and Orgrim Doomhammer being a Frostwolf.

Wait, what, Orgrim is a Frostwolf?! Apparently in the movie he is although canonically, he's a Blackrock and the last of his line. At least they kept the Doomhammer true to its form, and use.

They however skipped on Orgrim's rebellion and instead made it Durotan's rebellion. Nope. It doesn't work that way even if they gave a foreshadowing of things to come when the famed orc questioned Gul'Dan openly after the warlock cheated in his Mak'Gora with Durotan. Also, it's supposed to be the Doomhammer wrecking Blackhand, not some unnamed Alliance blade. And before we forget, Green Jesus' parents died during the middle years leading to the Second War.

For the humans, they could've done better than Dominic Cooper. Really. Sure you had glorious end-game moments. But you were silly all through out with Fimmel's Lothar looking more like the King except for that time he let rage get in the way. I would also like to point out that the connection between Medivh and Sargeras weren't even touched on when it is an important part of the story. However, I liked the way they did Llane's death. Because in the game, it was just said that it was because of Gul'Dan and stuff, but here, I see the logic of why he has to be killed and it was written so well.

Medivh being possessed by Sargeras is the wheel that made this vehicle turn and get Azeroth torn apart. That was the biggest mistake of the movie. Gul'Dan ain't the big baddie. Neither is Blackhand and his mutated and mutilated self. It's Sargeras.

Sargeras is the biggest baddie in the universe and everyone is just dealing with his lackey's (Kil'Jaeden) lackey. It doesn't make sense that you don't show the real power out there. And Kallan Lothar? Gimme a break. He had his shining moment, yes. He can fight like daddy, yes. But you really felt he was going to die the moment he got surprised by Blackhand and be a plot vehicle for Anduin.

The Sargeras plot hole is so big that it wouldn't be missed by hardcore Blizzard fans. But it doesn't derail the overall story of the movie that pits humans against Orcs.


Overall, the movie did its job. There were no huge plot holes that would be bad for a casual fan. There were glaring non-canon stuff but that was okay and did not damage the overall story of Warcraft. I'd still give the movie a "Cool" rating for staying true to the gist of Warcraft, and the start of the conflict. I'm still ecstatic that the movie franchise ought to build upon it. I'd like to see more Daniel Wu. He really nailed Gul'Dan and I cannot stress it enough. They also need to find a great Turalyon to complement Fimmel's Lothar and I'll be nerdgasming in my corner.

With the ending scene the start of Thrall's life under Aedalas Blackmoore, I think Blizzard should go ahead and do the Tides of Darkness storyline continuing on to the Lord of the Clans, and digging into the Reign of Chaos. That would be so much fun.

Please make more movies Blizzard! Maybe something set in Tristram this time or maybe in Aiur?

Lok Tar Ogar! For Doomhammaaaaaah!

About the author: Pio Garcia

GameGulp's resident Blizzard die-hard, fanboy, superfan, whatever you wanna call it. Totally loves mecha the way Setsuna loves his Gundam. Does not shy away from any JRPG available. Find him on Warcraft's Barthilas realm masquerading as a Daemon Prince Primarch.

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