After spending years in development hell, the Warcraft movie is finally coming to theaters early next month. Featuring quite possibly the largest budget ever for a movie based on a video game, Warcraft is likely expected to counteract years of misguided attempts to bring popular game franchises to the big screen.
Unfortunately, early reviews paint a far more discouraging picture.
Before we jump straight into the negative, let’s take a look at some of the less critical reviews from critics who found something to enjoy during their viewings.
Although Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter refers to “the self-serious mythology” as “borderline camp, if not downright dull,” she also compares it favorably to another recent fantasy film franchise:
“Yet there’s no question that it’s a breakthrough in both storytelling and artistry for features based on video games. And compared with another medieval-ish tale, the soporific Hobbit trilogy, this international production is a fleet and nimble ride, likely to conquer overseas box offices and make a solid stand stateside.”
Variety’s Geoff Berkshire was far less forgiving, and his review features my personal favorite quote about the movie that I’ve read so far:
“Boasting more than 2,000 visual effects shots, it’s dispiriting to think about the time, energy, planning and precision that went into “Warcraft” when the final product brings to mind those animated advertisements for iPhone app games.”
Finally, we have a gamer’s perspective from Jason Schreier at Kotaku. Although he expected very little from the movie, he admits that he managed to have less fun in the theater than he does failing quests in World of Warcraft:
“Rather than tapping into the goofy core that makes a game like World of Warcraft interesting, the Warcraft movie aims for grittiness, missing the mark quite a bit. It just doesn’t work. The lore is too campy. This is a world where a mage’s most popular spell transforms his enemies into sheep, yet Warcraft acts as if it’s a green-screen version of Game of Thrones.”
If you’re looking for a CG spectacle, and don’t mind a campy romp with relatively low stakes, Warcraft might not be a terrible way to spend a couple hours of your life. On the other hand, if you were expecting director Duncan Jones to spark a renaissance for video game movies, you’re likely in for a major disappointment.