Warcraft, the movie adaptation of the massively popular online game, hit theaters this weekend. Below, we cover the essentials of what parents should know before taking the kids.
1. What’s it about?
The movie centers on the arrival of the Orcs in Azeroth. Led by an evil sorcerer, the Orcs pass through a magical portal and invade the peaceful kingdom of the humans, and it’s up to King Llane and his commander, Lothar, to save their people. At the same time, one of the Orc chieftains, Durotan, questions his people’s ultimate motives.
2. Do I need to be a fan of the game to understand the movie?
Here, I can give a definitive answer: absolutely not. I know this because I am not a fan of the game. I don’t have anything against the game, I know it’s brought lots of joy to lots and lots of people, and it ultimately gave us The Guild, but massively online RPGs like that just aren’t my cup of tea. I’ve never played so much as a second of the game, and I didn’t find that a liability in watching the movie. It’s entirely possible that there were some references here and there that I missed, but overall I don’t think the movie is designed as a fan tribute or anything to the game, but rather merely uses the game’s universe as a platform to tell its story.
The obvious follow-up question: is a fan of the game more likely to enjoy it than someone like me? That I really can’t say. I did see the movie with someone who has at least played the game, and he didn’t like it any more than I did, but he’s not a massive fan of the game, and that is after all only a sample size of one.*
3. Will I enjoy it?
I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t terribly impressed. The movie wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be, but I don’t think it rose to the level of good, either. There’s a lot of forced dialogue, some key plot points that just don’t make any logical sense, and the movie is much too long.
4. Will my kids enjoy it?
Younger kids probably won’t, but teens of any age who are into fantasy likely will. The movie is full of cartoony but nonetheless graphic violence, it has a convoluted story that younger kids will probably find confusing, and did I mention it’s too long?
5. Does the movie have any big stars?
Not really. King Llane is played by Dominic Cooper, who fans of the blog might recognize as Howard Stark from the MCU or from The Preacher. Ben Foster, from Lone Survivor and lots of other things, plays The Guardian. And Lothar is played by Travis Fimmel from the History Channel series The Vikings.
Most of the bigger names are hidden behind layers and layers of CGI: Toby Kebbell, who played Dr Doom in last year’s The Fantasic Four (which you’ll be forgiven for having tried to forget), Battlestar Galactica’s Callum Keith Renne, and Clancy Brown all play Orcs.
6. What’s it rated? Why?
The MPAA gave the movie a PG-13 for “extended sequences of intense fantasy violence,” which is exactly correct. Basically the entire movie is one (overly) long sequence of battles. It’s all CGI, of course, but I was pretty surprised by the level of gore in the movie. There are characters who get crushed, who get limbs chopped off, and who get decapitated. More than once, blood splatters on the screen. The movie definitely is not for those with light stomachs, and as I mentioned before, it’s a factor that would definitely give me pause in taking younger kids.
On the bright side, there’s no bad language at all. There’s also no sex, although there is a female character who spends the first half of the movie as a slave girl in a somewhat revealing outfit. But also on that note, there are multiple female warriors shown, of both races, and those women wear the same armor as the men. There’s no boob armor to be seen.
7. So just how long is it?
The movie is just over two hours long. I know, right? I get that they have a lot of world building to do, but it still felt excessively long. There are lots and lots of characters, and lots and lots of locations, and lots and lots and lots of battles. I felt like they could have easily cut a good half hour with a little more disciplined editing and still had a decent movie.
8. When’s a good time to sneak out to the restroom?
Roughly half-way through, there’s scene where Lothar, Garona (the aforementioned slave girl), and a young wizard-in-training set off an the obligatory quest, and they pause for the night. The scene that follows is just them talking a bit, and gives you a couple of minutes to run to the restroom. You could also miss portions of just about any battle without losing too much story.
9. Is the movie worth seeing in 3D?
I saw it in 2D and didn’t feel like I missed much. There are some sequences in some of the battles that you can tell were designed for 3D, but overall I don’t think the premium price tag would be worth it.
10. Is there anything after the credits?
No. At the end of the movie, the Warcraft logo appears, and then there’s a follow-up scene before the credits start. That scene felt a bit like it was intended to be post-credits, but the producers apparently had mercy on us and decided to not make us sit through the nine minutes of credits to see it.
*Editor’s note: Although Rob didn’t have experience with the game, he was the only one able to get to the theater early enough to write this 10 Things post. Watch for a more in-depth review from a fan’s perspective soon.