Making a film based off the Warcraft franchise has been in the works for quite some time. After going through development hell, a falling out with director/writer Sam Raimi, and some other issues, fans finally got to see their favorite game series come to life on the big screen. I was sent the 4K Blu-ray of Warcraft to review, and while I enjoyed it as a fun fantasy movie, newcomers and fans not liking the liberties it takes may not.
Fellow reviewer Chris Pandolfi covered the theatrical release of this, but seeing as I’m familiar with the games, I can give a little more insight into the plot. In a nutshell, the orcs are trying to find a new world to live on thanks to theirs being destroyed by a strange energy known as Fel magic. One of the most powerful orcs and master of magic named Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) unites the clans and forms the faction known as the Horde. He also takes it upon himself to drain the life essence of the Draenei race who also live on their world and uses it to open a portal to where the humans and their Alliance friends run things.
Some of the orcs don’t agree with just taking over someone else’s world, namely one named Durotan (Toby Kebbell) who is the leader of the Frostwolf Clan of orcs and his pregnant wife Draka (fans will know these two as Thrall’s parents). It isn’t long before some of the Horde kill some Alliance people, and Anduin who leads the knights of the kingdom of Stormwind sets out to stop them. But a young mage Anduin’s men find sneaking around named Khadgar suspects there’s more to this than just the orcs invading, and the two team must ally with others including a half-orc woman named Garona (Paula Patton) and Durotan to stop the upcoming war between humans and orcs, along with whoever is pulling the strings behind this conflict.
While it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I still had a good time watching Warcraft, as I’m a big fan of the lore of the franchise. This is exactly what I mean about not being what I expected, as they took quite a few liberties with the lore in order to make a simple enough story that would appeal to fans and those unfamiliar with the game series. I totally understand this, but it still would’ve been nice if it was near scene for scene of the games. Still, those who love fantasy action movies such as Lord of the Rings and such will have a blast as I did, and fans of the franchise will get some amount of enjoyment as well.
Watching the 4K UHD version of this was awesome, as every vivid detail and color comes to life on the screen. Industrial Light & Magic never fail to amaze, so watching their work in 4K is always a treat, and the audio is just as great as keeps you into the world of Azeroth with the booming sounds of the Horde and epic musical scores by Game of Thrones’ Ramin Djawadi. There are some extras, but I’m surprised there isn’t any audio commentary here featuring director Duncan Jones. Some of the ones you’ll find here are a few deleted and extended scenes that fans will love thanks to some of them delving into the history of the orcs. There’s even an interesting extra where fans of the games explain why the movie did well despite poor box office numbers here in the states and critics chastising it. Things wouldn’t be complete with some behind the scenes featurettes, a look at how ILM worked on the special effects for years and how they changed as production went on, and of course there’s a funny Gag Reel. The really neat feature to me is the “Bonds of Brotherhood Motion Comic” that serves as prequel of sorts to the events in the film, and is something that fans and newcomers will want to check out to learn more about these heroes and the world of Azeroth.
It may not be the film fans have been waiting years for, but Warcraft is still a great fantasy movie worth checking out. Despite taking some liberties with the lore of the franchise, the amazing special effects, some fun and interesting characters, and some well-done special features will have you yelling “Lok’tar Ogar!” before you know it.