The only reason I even gave this movie a shot was because of writer/director Duncan Jones (Moon). After Moon, I was eagerly awaiting his next project… and then I heard it would be Warcraft. I was dubious in the extreme. I admit, I was happily surprised.

There were many reasons for me to avoid the film. Though an inveterate computer gamer, Warcraft was never part of my world. Adaptations of games are usually notoriously bad. The movie came so long after Warcraft had crested in the culture that it wasn’t even something I was hearing about all the time from my friends. But I wanted to see what Jones would bring to it, and bring it he did.

Warcraft has humor, emotion, story, surprises, and action. And, of course, lots of special effects. The story is also likely not the plot you’re expecting. Life is not cheap in Warcraft; characters die with purpose left and right, a brave choice in what was intended as a franchise movie. Its real weakness (outside of timing) was in the casting rather than the writing or directing.

On the up-side of the casting are a number of actors and CGI’d actors that did just fine. Ruth Negga (Agents of SHIELD), Callum Keith Rennie (Into the Forest), Ben Foster (Inferno), Tony Kebbell (Fantastic Four), Dominic Cooper (Miss You Already), Daniel Wu (Europa Report), and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol) all did quite well.

However, there were two glaring gaffs in the cast for me. Primarily that was Travis Fimmel (Vikings), who never really felt believable even if he looked the part. Ben Schnetzer (Pride), on the other hand, did a fine job with the character, but he just didn’t quite have the charisma on screen to capture my support and emotions. These two are part of the major spine of the film, and with both failing to engage me it weakened it at the core.

I admit, your world will not be diminished by missing this movie. But I do think it was given an unfair rap as junk. It is far from junk even if it never quite reaches the heights everyone hoped it would. And whether you like the tale or not, Duncan Jones proves he can work with a large budget and keep his character-focused approach to story-telling to create something that was more than just pretty lights. Hopefully his next will  financially succeed better, though I suspect this movie will have long legs in the disc, stream, and download market as more folks weigh in.


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