Having missed the press screening last week for Warcraft, I am a little late to the party on this one. But even though it grossed only $24 million in the U.S. since opening on Friday, I was enormously curious about this movie since in its first five days in China alone it grossed $156 million. Say what? And a total of $260 million-plus overseas. So I decided to check this one out over the weekend in a real theater with real people (who mostly just stared at the screen with little reaction), despite a marketing campaign that made it seem about as enticing as a dip in a cesspool. Okay, so maybe never having played The World Of Warcraft video games or not being up on the challenges of Orcs makes me far from the target audience, I still have to ask just exactly what are you thinking China? $156 million? Seriously?
As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch) I find it hard to fathom how such an incoherent fantasy adventure that might require a manual to follow could be so engaging to so many people on the other side of the world? I feel like the humans battling the Orcs here. We must be on different planets. I find it a little depressing that because of a movie like this one having such success in the ever-burgeoning Chinese market that studios will feel compelled to turn out endless sequels and variations of this type of over-produced and expensive blather. I’m already upset over Lionsgate’s recent statement that they may produce up to seven, count ’em, seven Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movies. You like the sound of that, China?
At any rate, the expense is clearly on the screen in Warcraft, but the visual effects are mostly cheesy (CGI crowd scenes are laughably lame) and the dialogue incomprehensible. The movie looks like an over-stuffed cousin to 60s-era fantasy epics which at least had some level of B-Movie charm to them. The basic plot has the Orcs, monstrous-looking creatures with Tusks and bad nose jewelry coming in to colonize the human world known as Azeroth where heroic Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel of the TV series Vikings) and others must do battle to save their turf from these invaders. In the middle of it all is female Orc Garona (Paula Patton) who miraculously speaks perfect English (she says she learned it from the human prisoners). She gets a little too close for comfort with the humans which eventually poses a major conflict. Meanwhile there is one battle after another with effects that look mostly like lightning strikes. Yawn. You may recognize some of the other actors on board including Dominic Cooper and Ben Foster who try their best, but unfortunately Warcraft comes off as a cheap hybrid of Lord Of The Rings meets Game Of Thrones meets Shrek meets dreck.
Duncan Jones, who directed more ambitious and cool movies like Moon and Source Code, got his shot directing and re-writing Charles Leavitt’s script for this big budget effort and sadly failed to give it more than surface gloss. Producers Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Stuart Fenegan, Alex Gartner and Jon Jashni produced and are certainly busy converting all that Chinese gross in dollars as we speak. Legendary Pictures, Atlas Entertainment and Blizzard (which distributed the game) are production companies behind the Universal release.
Do you plan to see or have you seen Warcraft? Let us know what you think.