For Azeroth

For AzerothI

am sitting down to write this Thursday night after having just come from watching the Warcraft movie.  Firstly let me state that I am going to do my best to keep this spoiler free, even though in truth the story that the film is based on is now multiple decades old.  I attended the movie with quite possibly the perfect person I could have in the grand scheme of things.  I went with my friend Vernie, or at least that is the character folks would know him by.  On November 24th of 2004 the two of us farmed our little asses off to be able to purchase the guild charter for House Stalwart, a guild that still stands living and breathing today.  I have to admit I went into watching this movie with a lot of conflicting emotions.  A lot of time has passed since those heady days over ten years ago, and my feelings for Warcraft and the franchise as a whole have evolved over the years.  I also had a bit of trepidation going into the picture seeing as I have seen many fondly remembered franchises end up marred by the churning machine that is Hollywood.  I wanted to believe that this movie could do at least an adequate job of encompassing my memories and feelings and placing them on the big screen.  When I found out that my local theater was showing the film on Thursday night, I purchased two tickets without even checking with Vernie first to see if he was interested.  Thankfully he was, but otherwise I would have gone by myself because I had to know one way or another what the film ultimately would be.

Firstly I have to say that overall I am very pleased with the film.  This is not a film that is going to win Oscars, but nor do I think that every film should be that.  I grew up during the 80s, in an era when it was perfectly okay to make an exciting science fiction or fantasy adventure film without trying to aspire to pretense.  I could sit here and knit pick little details, and complain about minor flaws… but instead I decided to embrace the joy of seeing this setting that I have spent so much of my time involved with spread out on the screen before me.  If you have ever loved Warcraft, then there is likely magic to be found in this film for you.  There was something uniquely mesmerizing as I saw setting after setting that I recognized immediately from my years playing the games.  There is a moment early in the film where you see Dun Morogh and Iron Forge, and having spent the early years of my life in this game as a Dwarf there was this excited little child deep inside of me that stirred free from years of being jaded.  Moment by moment the characters on screen appeared in settings that were as familiar to me as my own bedroom.  There is a certain loving craft that understood the parts that needed to be there, and those that could be enriched and improved without losing the feeling of the original setting.

For Azeroth

Then there are the characters, ones that came largely from a time before the current fidelity of World of Warcraft.  We know them largely from lore that has been written in the years since the release of Orcs and Humans and Tides of Darkness.  While I said earlier that none of the performances are likely to win Oscars…  that is not to say that each of them did not play their parts perfectly.  Medivh was immediately recognizable as Medivh for example, and Durotan worked perfectly especially with the renewed focus on that character that Warlords of Draenor brought.  There was not a single role that I felt was miscast or failed to hold up to the jumbled memories I have of the lore and setting of the early games.  I have to say that of all the characters, the one I came to like the most has to be Khadgar, which is shocking considering I am not much for finger wigglers… and Warlords made me largely think he was an ass.  The character I most closely related to of course was Anduin Lothar, but given my proclivity for warriors this should surprise no one.  The real breakout for me however has to be a tie between Garona and Draka , but I can’t really go into my reasoning for either without dipping into spoiler territory.  Suffice to say that for the story that is being told, I thought each and every actor did a great job delivering their role.

Now for a bit of a warning.  For the lore purists out there, you need to go into this accepting that the movie is going to paint a slightly different picture than the one you know from the background of the game.  Lets face it… the early years of the Warcraft franchise were a bit of a mess, with a combination of “wouldn’t it be cool” stacked onto layers of “this is awesome” to weave together a passable story.  The Chronicles series of books have been a method of trying to clear up the tangled bits of maladjusted lore and set straight the canon once and for all.  As a result the story of the movies is likely going to be the new canon of how the events of the first games will be set in stone from this point on.  The sequence of events made more sense that some of the existing lore so I am completely fine with this.  However for those who have to be tyrannically pure to the original source material…  you are going to find certain aspects of this movie frustrating.  I highly suggest you approach the movie with an open mind like I did, and allow yourself to simply get sucked along in the currents of nostalgia for a time when Warcraft inspired greatness in us all.  I’ve never felt a lot of faction pride, but I have to say there was something that swelled inside of me when I heard the lines “For Azeroth! For the Alliance!”.  Thanks to Duncan Jones and everyone at Blizzard for getting the movie right, and making something we can all ultimately be proud of.  Not everyone is going to get this movie, but it wasn’t for “everyone”.  This is a movie for the long time fans of the Warcraft franchise and I am hopeful this will be a long running series of movies, spreading the giant screen with the characters I have loved.

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