Saturday, November 12, 2016
Not as bad as I expected. But not, you know, good.
Don't know what I can say that the initial reviews didn't. Far too many characters and world-building in the first act. A rushed back half and an anti-climatic, franchise-building ending. Having played Warcraft II and III (only dipped my toe into World of Warcraft - not a MMO guy), I could follow everything well enough. I just didn't care.
Like The Phantom Menace, Warcraft gets all the pieces on the board for future movies. And like Lucas' prequel, it feels unnecessary to start at square one. Most of the movie - where the orcs come from, the corruptive magic of the Fel, and the death of Lothar's son - could've been told through visual shorthand or scenes where we learn about this world a piece at a time while an actual story was told.
The odd thing is I'm still impressed Duncan Jones' direction. I've never seen a movie I had so many problems with that I thought was so well-directed. And I'm not saying that because I'm such a huge fan of Moon and Source Code. As he's already proved, he's great with actors and can do spectacle. He can tell complicated stories with complicated ideas. This is only a guess, but it feels like he was forced to cut a three-hour movie down to two.
There are a few nice things here. The visual effects for the Orcs are another step forward for mo-cap technology, especially in capturing nuanced facial expressions. Travis Fimmel and Ben Foster turn in surprisingly good performances. And there are a few moments here and there that actually work. In those moments, you feel like you're watching something other than a $200 million Wikipedia summary.
But here's the crazy thing, I'd still be willing to watch Jones return to this world and get it right.