MOVIE SYNOPSIS: The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another.
Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence
Released in Theaters: June 10, 2016 (2D, 3D, IMAX 3D)
Best for Ages: 12+
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Based on a Video Game
Runtime: 123 minutes
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Cast: Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel
MOVIE REVIEW: "Warcraft" is based on the gaming universe, "World of Warcraft," but you don't have to be familiar with it to enjoy this movie. Stunning visuals, great character development, and a compelling story make this an entertaining film for both teens and grownups.
The story begins in a land inhabited by orcs, creatures that are similar to humans, but bigger, with more interesting teeth (and no relation to the "Lord of the Rings" orcs). With their homeland dying, the orcs survive by traveling through a glowing green portal to the world of Azeroth, inhabited by humans. As the orcs begin to take over, the human king, Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper), his best warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), and a young wizard named Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) try to stop them.
They summon their protector, a Guardian sorcerer named Medivh (Ben Foster), and also gain the trust of an orc-human refugee, Garona (Paula Patton).
Meanwhile, the noble orc Durotan (Toby Kebbell) teams up with the humans to thwart their cruel leader, who's using dark magic to retain power. Everything leads to a final battle, and if the portal opens again, all will be lost.
I was surprised when I found myself fully engaged and enjoying "Warcraft." I know a little bit about the gaming universe, and even created a character at one point several years ago when my kids were just getting into it. But because of a good narrative arc and storytelling, you don't have to know anything about it to follow the movie.
Part of that is not only because of the beautiful special effects, but also the great character development. With a lot of these fantasy or gamer-based movies, the characters all blend in together. Not so with "Warcraft," where everyone stands on their own. I particularly love Paula Patton's strong female character, Garona.
This is director Duncan Jones' first foray into this genre (his previous sci-fi movies include "Moon" and "Source Code"), and he brings that same smart, emotional storytelling to "Warcraft." I saw the IMAX version, and it was well worth the extra bucks.
With plenty of kingdoms, land and characters to cover in the World of Warcraft universe, I wouldn't be surprised if more movies hit the big screen. The ending of "Warcraft" definitely left things open.
PARENT OVERVIEW: "Warcraft" includes plenty of gaming-type violence, including fighting and weapons. Characters are injured or killed, but not much blood is shown. A CGI orc baby is in peril. Romance includes some flirting, and a female character wears skimpy clothing.
PARENT DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):
Violence/Gore: Plenty of battle scenes and fighting, including stabbing with swords, bashing with giant hammers, slicing with knives and crushing of skulls. Characters are injured and die, but not much blood is shown. A horse smashes against a tree. A CGI-digital orc baby is put in danger. Scary scenes involve monsters, dark magic, and the life force being sucked from a human.
Sex/Nudity: Some flirting and near-kissing. A woman wears a skimpy outfit.
Profanity: Fairly mild, including one use of "hell."
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.