A Warcraft Movie Directed by Christopher Nolan?
I saw Warcraft movie on the big screen two times and I quite enjoyed it in both viewings. Still, sometimes I think of a Warcraft movie directed by Christopher Nolan, who is one of my favorite directors.
Hello fellow adventurers,
(First of all, let me briefly note that this is neither a Warcraft movie review nor an article trying to convince you that Warcraft movie is good or bad, nor me claiming that it would have been a better movie if directed by another director. This is just a post where I talk about the Warcraft movie, as someone who saw it multiple times and who is more or less involved with the Warcraft universe for about 15 years, telling things like what I liked and disliked about it and, using a little imagination, expressing my wish that a Warcraft movie be directed by a director whose movies I like a lot.)
The long-awaited Warcraft movie, named as Warcraft: The Beginning, was released in May-June 2016 around the world. Just in case you are not much familiar with Warcraft, it is a popular video game franchise by Blizzard Entertainment, which contains an RTS games series (Warcraft I, II, III and expansions), an MMORPG (World of Warcraft), an online strategy card game (Hearthstone), books, merchandise, etc. and most importantly, a huge, active fan base.
The movie took the story of Warcraft universe from the very beginning of Warcraft franchise (not from the beginning of Warcraft timeline), that starts with the first Warcraft game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, released in 1994.
In a few sentences, the Warcraft movie tells the story of how once peaceful orc clans of Draenor (another planet) invaded Azeroth (the planet where the main story takes place) through a portal (Dark Portal) opened by their powerful warlock, Gul'dan, and then clashed with humans, doing endless battles with them. At the same time, a powerful human mage, Medivh, becomes corrupted by the same universal force behind orcs' corruption (Sargeras, also known as The Dark Titan or The Destroyer of Worlds), and as a result, leads orcs to Azeroth.
On the Azeroth side, the devastating, brutish orc forces are trying to be stopped by an alliance of humans, dwarves and night elves (non-human races are not much shown yet), with heroes such as Garona, Anduin and Khadgar, who took the battle to orcs for saving not only their kingdoms and lands but also their world from the savage invaders.
If you haven't seen the Warcraft movie yet, 1) if you are a Warcraft or World of Warcraft fan/player, I highly recommend that you see it because it will provide a 2-hours of adventurous journey to Azeroth, which you are already familiar with, 2) if this is the first time you are learning about Warcraft universe, but if you like fantasy fiction movies in general, I still highly recommend it as it will show you a new fantasy universe with beautiful worlds and interesting characters.
You can see its trailer on YouTube below:
Though it can be considered as a financial failure in the US market, the worldwide box office figure was enough for Warcraft to become the all-time #1 grossing movie based on a video game. Warcraft is currently offered as Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on Universal Pictures Entertainment Portal.
My Impressions About the Warcraft Movie
I should say that even though I played Warcraft 3: The Reign of Chaos and its expansion, The Frozen Throne, at their releases and I started playing World of Warcraft a few years ago, I have never followed the story of Warcraft closely. Even though I knew the movie's story in general terms, I still did not know many details before going to the movie. So, I was quite excited to finally seeing a Warcraft movie.
Image Copyright - Universal Pictures
Seeing the Blizzard intro logo on the big screen (I saw it on IMAX), hearing the Warcraft and especially World of Warcraft themed beautiful soundtracks such loudly, seeing all those places I had been visiting in a digital world, waiting till the end of the credits while listening to the epic Warcraft music in a public place for the first time, they were all enjoyable experiences for me. In both viewings, I was fully immersed into the movie and didn't know how time passed.
Though I truly enjoyed watching Warcraft, it is not hard for me to say that it was not what I would define as the perfect Warcraft movie. To give a quick comparison, as a Lord of the Rings fan who saw each of its episodes on the big screen for 5 times, I can't say Warcraft created half of the effect Lord of the Rings created on me.
To sum up the things that I liked about Warcraft in one paragraph, I can say that I liked the casting. I saw some of the actors and actresses for the first time and I liked seeing them in Warcraft. I especially loved how Blackhand character was portrayed. The setting and the atmosphere of Azeroth in the movie was quite in line as the Azeroth I am used to visiting in WoW. The cinematography, soundtracks, costumes, makeup, visual effects were all nicely done. In short, it felt like a Warcraft movie.
Image Copyright - Universal Pictures
Now, about what I didn't like. I am not a movie expert or professional critic, I will just explain what I didn't like or feel like could have been better in this movie. To start with, I think the overall editing and the duration of the movie were not appropriate. 2 hours were definitely not enough for this movie. Even as someone who is familiar with Warcraft, I felt some of the scenes were under developed, some characters did not have enough screen time or their stories were not developed properly. At times, it was difficult to make connections between consecutive scenes.
The movie was action packed and never boring, but some of the scenes and characters could have used more introductions, explanations and such. The emotional bonds I had easily established with Lord of the Rings characters were not present for Warcraft characters. They felt like something is missing about them. For the story and the pace of the movie, I can say the introduction and build up for the events that are taking place could have been done better.
This movie was an introduction to a (hopefully) longer series of movies about the Warcraft universe, so it was hard to explain everything properly within 2 hours, still, I think it could have done a better job at telling the viewers what Warcraft is all about, what takes place in this first movie and what is expected to come in the sequels. To me, the movie felt like a section cut from a much longer movie, so it struggled to make perfect sense on its own.
In short, it didn't feel like "the" Warcraft movie. It felt like some secret ingredient was missing, which could have made it an experience that would last a lifetime. It didn't create a strong question "what will happen next?", assuming it was planned to have sequels from the beginning, at least its name implies that, right?
Was Duncan Jones a Wrong Choice for Directing Warcraft?
Before answering this question, let's quickly see who Duncan Jones is and what he has done so far.
Duncan Jones directed two movies before Warcraft: Moon and Source Code. To be honest, I didn't like Moon much, but I liked Source Code a lot. For many of his followers though, Duncan Jones is highly appreciated for his Moon movie (I guess I shall re-watch it some time). Additionally, Duncan Jones had played Warcraft games, hence he was familiar with the universe, which is an important thing when it comes to book or video game adaptations.
In terms of critic success, Warcraft received a score of 32 on Metacritic and a score of 28 on Rotten Tomatoes; overall, it received mostly negative reviews initially. But as more people saw it, mixed and good reviews started to pour in and eventually, it reached a 7.0 rating on IMDB (by over 180k voters) and 71% on Rotten Tomatoes (by over 55k users). In other words, even though the initial reviews the movie received were mostly negative, a lot of people gave it an average 7 out of 10 after watching it, and possibly many people who would have liked it didn't go to see it due to the negative reviews.
So, considering the US box office failure whereas becoming the top grossing video game adaptation of all times; considering the low critic scores whereas receiving mostly positive feedback from the viewers, was Duncan Jones a wrong choice to direct the Warcraft movie?
Absolutely not! This is not what I think and it is not what I am trying to say in this post. Duncan Jones created a Warcraft movie based on the existing materials, using his own vision, his own perspective, his own imagination, and produced this movie that we have now. With its goods and bads, in my opinion it is a good Warcraft movie and also a good fantasy movie. Surely it could have been better (anything can be better, right?), but it is not to say that Warcraft is a bad movie.
I also read that about 40 minutes was cut from the movie to squeeze it into 2 hours. As far as I know, there's no officially released director's cut for Warcraft but I believe that the removal of 40-minutes-long parts is true. I have no idea what was in those scenes and how it would have affected my perception of the movie, but considering time quickly flew by in 2 hours, a 3-hour Warcraft movie would have also been nice for me as I wanted to see more of it when it ended. Who knows, perhaps the publishers didn't think such a long fantasy movie would attract many viewers. In any case, it is possible that if the movie was longer, it may have made more justice to itself. By the way, you can find some "deleted scenes" on YouTube if you do a little search. I will not link to them as I am not sure if they are officially allowed to be shared on YouTube.
Why I Want a Warcraft Movie Directed by Christopher Nolan?
I first met with Nolan's work via a friend of mine who recommended Memento to me. Back then, since I was not much of an experienced movie-goer or film-watcher, and also since Nolan did not have that many movies in his career, I did not pay much attention to him, even though I liked Memento very much. In time, Nolan continued to direct some of the best movies in the movie history, such as The Prestige, The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar, and he became one of my favorite directors. He is currently working on Dunkirk, which I am looking forward to.
Christopher Nolan is acknowledged as one of the best directors in Hollywood, however his relation with movie fans is kind of complicated. Of course I don't mean from his side. What I mean is, some people love him, some others hate him, some are neutral towards him. Some consider him as the best director, and his movies as the best movies; whereas some others consider him as a bad director. Some love him to love and some hate him to hate. As you see, it's pretty complicated :)
So, why do I wish Christopher Nolan to direct a Warcraft movie? Do I think that Nolan's Warcraft would do all the things that I mentioned above in a better way?
Probably not. Maybe in some ways, his version will be worse. But, the core ingredient I like in Nolan's movies and that I think Warcraft was missing, is the feeling of epicness, a heavy sense of emotional bond to the story and characters. That unique substance Nolan uses in his films, which makes you want to pause and re-watch the same scene again and again, which creates high re-watchability in movies, which inspire you and even cause to change your life.
Image Copyright - Universal Pictures
For example, I don't know other World of Warcraft players but when I am adventuring in Azeroth, there are many times I feel an epic feeling and inspiration due to the soundtracks, the dramatic scenery, the flow of story and the characters. This, if accomplished in a Warcraft movie too with such a touch of Nolan, might create the perfect Warcraft movie for me.
I am not here to say that Christopher Nolan can get the material and setting Duncan Jones used and create a much better movie. I am not here to compare. I am just imagining loudly that as one of my favorite movie-makers, I would love to see a Warcraft movie created by Christopher Nolan. Not necessarily the same story, the same timeline or the same characters. As some of you already know, Warcraft lore has such humongous material that even a dozen movies can be produced out of it. What I am saying is like saying, there are many superhero movies that I like or dislike, but there is a director that I enjoy watching his films a lot and it would be nice to see a superhero movie from him.
To finalize my post, I did like Warcraft movie, and I think Duncan Jones did a good job. I will just be happy to see another Warcraft movie, maybe with a different story and characters, directed by Christopher Nolan.
Which director would you like to see a Warcraft movie from?
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