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Warcraft Wins Only the Staunchest of Fans

<i>Warcraft</i> Wins Only the Staunchest of Fans

Based on the best-selling videogame, Warcraft is an adventure that’s fun to watch and easy to enjoy. Sadly, unless viewers are experts in the deep mythos of Azeroth, they’re likely to get lost along the journey. 2.5 out of 5


After many years of peace, the world of Azeroth is shaken by the arrival of fearsome creatures known as orcs. The orcs are fleeing their dying homeland, and under the leadership of a sinister warlock named Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), plan to take the enchanted kingdom for their own. In response, the King of Stormwind (Dominic Cooper) and his legion of warriors ride forth to repel the invaders. However, not all is as it seems, and dark forces conspire to manipulate the battle. Only together can the heroes of both sides overcome their hatred and create a new future for their people.

What Works?

Right from the opening scene, it’s clear the true star of Warcraft is the CGI. The film's visuals are absolutely stunning, particularly when used to highlight the formidable, green-skinned orcs. The sweeping landscapes and noble towers are everything one would expect from a fantasy world, and it’s nice to immerse yourself in the environment. Warcraft also doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a fun, summer movie that invites viewers to sit back and enjoy the show.

What Doesn't?

Unfortunately, much of the visual splendor is wasted on the story. Unless viewers have played the games, or are somehow well-versed in the convoluted history, politics, and geography of Azeroth, they will be hopelessly lost throughout the film. Because of this, characters are barely given enough depth to sustain interest. Travis Fimmel, who plays the film’s main protagonist, comes off as two-dimensional and bored. His romance with another character feels forced, and even phenomenal actors like Ben Schnetzer don't have much to work with.

Warcraft is clearly pandering to a very specific audience, one that already knows the world, and that doesn't leave much for the rest of its viewers.

Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes

All fantasy worlds contain some magic, and Warcraft is no exception. Wizards, spells, and dark forces are the norm for this movie, and it’s bound to make some Christians uncomfortable. In particular, the warlock Gul’dan uses a type of "Fel Magic" which drains the life out of his victims and thrives on human sacrifice. This magic is said to be the work of demons, and there's more than a few passing references to demonic forces lurking in the shadows. To be clear, these aren’t the same kind of demons you'd find in the Bible (they’re treated as creatures from another world like the orcs), but the distinction probably won’t matter to believers.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action, fantasy violence, and mild sexuality
  • Language/Profanity: Surprisingly clean, apart from a few fantasy slurs.
  • Sexuality/Nudity: An orc woman is shown pregnant and later gives birth, an orc baby is shown, the character Garona wears revealing clothing, a man is shown shirtless, a joke about a character who wants to “lie with an orc”, Garona and Lothar kiss.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Ale is served in taverns, one character is shown drunk.
  • Violence/Frightening Images: True to its name, Warcraft is filled with violent imagery. The Orcs in particular are a brutal race and frequently solve their problems with war. People are stabbed, slashed, and clubbed with every medieval weapon imaginable, guns are used, one character has his hand blown off by a gun, the same character later cauterizes his stump with fire and has it cut off, a character is sliced through the groin, magic causes people to wither and die, a wolf savages a human, a person is crushed, skulls are crushed, necks are snapped, a cage full of people is pushed off a cliff, an orc bites another’s neck off and is stabbed in the process, horse crash, a horse kicks an orc, people are sacrificed to fell magic which saps the life from them, a griffin attacks some orcs, wizards shoot lightning and fire.

The Bottom Line

RECOMMENDED FOR: Warcraft players, fantasy lovers, and people looking for an easy, summer movie.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those unfamiliar with the games, conservative viewers, families with small children, pacifists.

Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones, opened in theaters June 10, 2016; available for home viewing September 27, 2016. It runs 123 minutes and stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, and Daniel Wu. Watch the trailer for Warcraft here.

Ryan Duncan is Entertainment Editor for

Publication date: June 10, 2016