Humans and orcs are enemies, fighting for control of the land of Azeroth in the IMAX 3D fantasy reboot Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones. It’s up to Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) to protect King and country from the invading outsiders.
Meanwhile, Durotan, a powerful orc chieftan, is looking to find a safe home for his family and clan. During the ensuing struggle, Lothar teams up young mage named Khadgar and Garona (Paula Patton), a half human/half orc, in order to save Azeroth.
As war threatens to destroy both humans and orcs, Lothar and Durotan must fight to save their people, while Garona must decide where her loyalty lies.
Tribute writers Shelby Morton and Yanis Khamsi attended an advance screening of the fantasy epic, and the two sat down to discuss their thoughts…
SM: So I went into this not having any clue what an orc or an Azeroth was, and it was an interesting experience, to say the least. I’m pretty sure you knew more than I did?
YK: Au contraire, I had no idea what Warcraft was all about. I knew about orcs because I’m a huge fan of the Peter Jackson Tolkien films, but the rest was totally new to me.
SM: And what was your first foray into the world of Warcraft like?
YK: Right off the bat I found the plot really difficult to follow. It’s not that fantasy is inherently complicated and daunting — look at Game of Thrones or the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies — I just didn’t really understand who some the characters were or what their motivations were. Although, I still found myself completely immersed in the film’s visuals.
SM: I agree with you on the story front. I found myself asking “what’s happening” and “what’s a fel?” more than once. However, I did find the visuals pretty stunning from the get-go. Needless to say, ambition was high with this movie. Rebooting a classic video game is certainly difficult to do without a few hiccups in the story or the writing. I do think some of the talent saved it, though. What did you think about Travis Fimmel as Lothar?
YK: I think he was relatively well cast. He had that shimmering intensity in his green eyes. The cast was huge, and yet he managed to stand out and own his scenes.
SM: I agree, he looks like the standard leading-man type but he’s certainly got an edge. And to my surprise, delivered some pretty solid one-liners with excellent comedic timing.
YK: I don’t know if he was the fish-out-of-water protagonist the film needed, though. This type of protagonist would ask questions or have things explained to them, and then we, the audience, would have it explained to us. A movie like Warcraft requires good exposition and a relatable lead, otherwise the audience just won’t care.
SM: I’m going to have to disagree with you on that. I think the young mage Khadgar was just that — a fish surrounded by sharks. He’s a character who seemed destined for great power, but still remained endearingly earnest and hopeful to a fault, which, in my humble opinion, is the mark of a true protagonist.
YK: Garona, on the other hand, was the anti-hero. Paula Patton did a nice job conveying her story. How did you like her?
SM: I did like that she was able to hold her own with the men and the orcs, and that her story wasn’t solely about being a foe to the humans. However, I think maybe her character arc wasn’t as fully fleshed out as it should have been. I will say one thing: I found it really funny that she somehow had all the attractive features of a human and very few of an orc — talk about baby tusks! I guess she has to be a believable love interest for the very attractive and human Lothar…
But I digress, let’s talk about the somewhat surprising appearance of Ben Foster as The Guardian. Like or dislike?
YK: He wasn’t as distinctive as some of the other characters. Ben played the part well, it just wasn’t as memorable as some of the other leads. One performance that blew me away was Toby Kebbell‘s portrayal of Durotan. The character is CGI but Kebbell’s voice work was so captivating. I also found Durotan to be the best-written character with the best arc. Do you agree?
SM: Absolutely. He was definitely the character that I could relate to the most. I completely understood his motivation — he was fighting to save his wife, his child, and his people. I was very happy to see that they explored the orcs’ side of the coin, essentially humanizing them so it’s not solely an “us versus them” trope. It made for a much more intriguing battle.
We both agree that there were lapses in character exploration and story, but admit it — we aren’t going to see this kind of movie for the story. It all goes back to our senses. And boy, did Warcraft ignite those. Sure, I found myself confused and a little incredulous at times, but, like you said before, it felt like watching a monstrous video game. Which, considering its origins, isn’t such a bad thing.
YK: You bring up a good point. We aren’t fans of the video game. I’m sure that the gamers, of which there are millions, will be able to fully understand every little crevice of the film. There are some talented actors on board and the cinematography is commendable, as were the costumes and set design. It was an enjoyable IMAX experience and I would recommend Warcraft to anybody looking for a visual spectacle.
SM: Final grade?
YK: I give it a C+. How about you, Shelby?
SM: Warcraft was a huge undertaking and I think it was a moderately successful first attempt, so B-.
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