This is a tough one. As a fan of the Warcraft games and books there is no doubt you will love this movie. However, if you are just a casual player of the games or don’t even play at all, there are some aspects that might be confusing. Like many movies lately, there is a lot going on. However, story wise it is quite straight forward. Because I fear that many people will not fully grasp it I will try to give a short overview of what is what.
The story starts with the Horde who are in need of a new homeland, as their own land has been destroyed. By means of a portal that is created by foul magic by hands of the warlock Gul’dan they are attempting to enter the peaceful world of Azeroth. Azeroth is the home planet of the humans, night elves, and dwarves. This group of races calls themselves the Alliance. Whereas the Orcs call themselves the Horde. What may feel as a lack of a good guy is in fact an excellent integration of the option to choose a side, much like in the MMORPG World of Warcraft: are you rooting for the Horde, or for the Alliance?
Blizzard Entertainment is a moneymaking machine in the game-industry. This is where their mistake lies. They assumed that everyone who would go and see the movie would be a fan. However, there are many critics out there who are rather unfamiliar with the franchise and thus cannot grasp the essence of the story. Which is a shame, because the story is told in an excellent manner. Perhaps something along the lines of a Star Wars introduction would have benefited the gap between gamers and non-gamers.
The thing that is most confusing is the sheer amount of characters in Warcraft: The Beginning. None of them get a proper introduction, as such making it vital to really pay attention to understand the interrelationships. If interested in this movie but unfamiliar with the lore in the games it might be good to read one of the warcraft novels that is based upon this lore. Most prominently this would be The Last Guardian.
Enough about what went wrong. Because they did so much right! First and foremost, the orcs. They truly come to life as huge, green and brown monsters, especially compared to the relatively tiny humans. It is just spot on. Secondly, the mage spells. While based upon in-game imagery the casting of spells really comes to life, if it wasn’t fantasy it would almost be realistic. The special effects and CGI are phenomenal to say the least.
The casting is also done just right. Deliberately or not, most actors are not Hollywood superstars, despite having had a big role here or there, and this actually plays in their favor as well as in the movie’s favor. Although this is especially for those who know more about the characters it can be said that Ben Foster really is the last guardian Medivh; Dominic Cooper is Llane Wrynn; and though I needed some convincing: Ben Schnetzer really is the young mage Khadgar.
Give Warcraft a chance, even if you are unfamiliar with it all. I am slightly biased, but the execution really is impeccable despite the lack of proper introduction of the characters. In a way, this ensures that the movie is in motion and demands the viewer to keep up and pay attention (and not sticking your nose in your smartphone half the time). If you want to enjoy it, you most certainly will.