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Laramie Movie Scope: Warcraft

A franchise in search of a first film plot

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 23, 2016 -- Unless you are very familiar with the video game and novels, trying to follow the plot of this movie is like trying to follow a story committee meeting in which the participants are having a lot of disagreements. It is hardly a standalone story.

The plot of this movie is more of a sketch designed to lay the groundwork for a long series of movies. Main characters are killed, setting the stage for sequels. A baby is set adrift, Moses style, for the sequels. Hints are dropped here and there about a complicated back story, and the audience is expected to fill in the blanks (obviously this is aimed at an audience with a foreknowledge of these back stories).

While I lacked any Warcraft background, the story does make sense after a fashion. The worlds in which this story takes place are somewhat familiar because so much is borrowed from J.R.R. Tolkien and other fantasy writers, not to mention the bible.

A war is developing between the worlds of Draenor, the dying world of the Orcs, and Azeroth, a peaceful world of humans and other sentient beings. Gul'dan, a powerful wizard, uses evil Fel Magic to open a dimensional portal from Draenor to Azeroth with the aim of conquering Azeroth. Durotan, one of the Orc clan leaders doesn't like Gul'dan's plan, and decides to form an alliance with the humans after crossing over from Draenor to Azeroth through the portal.

Gul'dan and the first wave of Orcs start raiding Azeroth villages and collecting captives. The Orcs are building a portal on Azeroth to transport the rest of the Orcs from Draenor to Azeroth. The portal will be powered by the life force of the captives, who will die in the process. Despite the existential threat posed by the Orc invasion, the leaders of Azeroth can't agree on a united response. This sets the stage for shifting alliances between some of the humans and some of the Orcs.

These shifting alliances, along with the stories of various shifty sorcerers and warriors, form the heart of the story, against a backdrop of global catastrophe. This story is about those who lust after power, and how it corrupts them. It is about brave warriors and magicians with pure hearts, battling other warriors and sorcerers who are acting out of fear or ambition. There is also some romance in this story.

There are a lot of good action scenes. The computerized graphics and motion capture creatures are of high quality, and there are some good characters, like Durotan, Stormwind King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper of “Captain America: The First Avenger”) orc woman Garona (Paula Patton of “2 Guns”) apprentice magician Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer of “The Book Thief”). However, the story is so sketchy that character development and motivation is almost nonexistent.

Rather than spending so much time setting the stage for sequels and assuming the audience already knows the back stories, it looks like the writers of this screenplay should have concentrated on explaining this story, developing the characters, and making a movie that can stand on its own as a film worth watching. The way it looks now, there may not be any sequels to this ambitious film. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)