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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Warcraft (Blu-ray)
Warcraft (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // September 27, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $34.90 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted September 23, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Warcraft is many things to a lover of uncut, unadulterated, unapologetic schlock like myself. It's an 80s heavy metal album cover come to life, an after school special about the harm that long-term exposure to the uncanny valley effect can have on our senses, an expensive experiment to see how much a movie can get away with ripping off The Lord of the Rings and still be legally considered a completely separate piece of intellectual property. But above all of these things, its' one intrinsic quality is key for lovers of goofy genre fare to enjoy. I'll offer a quote from Monty Python's very own Sargeant-Major: "It's silly! Very silly indeed!"

What we get with Warcraft is one of those chepo 80s straight-to-video fantasy fare, this time with state of the art CGI technology and a hundred and sixty million dollar budget. It's the kind of depthless trash (I mean this in a sincerely positive way) that cool dads used to let their five-year-old boys watch, despite the wanton violence and carnage, so the kid could put on a cape and grab a plastic sword while imitating the clankity-clank sounds from the bombastic battles between swashbuckling brave knights and the grotesque giant green monsters du jour. Meanwhile, stoic mages in their high towers would form a fireball with their hands while looking like they're giving an invisible bison a prostate exam, until the fireball would hit the gross creatures and go BLAMMO!!!

I'm not going to do the typical film critic thing and go into the details of the plot here, because, well, what plot? A horde of green mo-cap orc thingies go through a green magic portal thingy in order to attack medieval human thingies who fight back using a blue magic thingy. Green magic is evil, blue magic is good. Complex stuff. One of the brave yet not so smart orc chieftains (Ben Schnetzer) comes to the genius conclusion that a kind of magic that devours all living things might not be so hunky dory, so he tries to form an alliance with Hotknight McBroodypants (Travis Fimmel) to put a stop the evil green menace.

And of course what follows is a series of epic 1s and 0s attacking each other with the endless fury of seriously messed-up PG-13 violence ("Look kids, the blood is green instead of red! That means we can show nasty decapitations!" - Nice old MPAA lady) and bucketfuls of CG dirt and blood hitting the virtual lens. The overblown gravitas of the battle scenes are balanced with the sheer dullness of humans, elves, and dwarves sitting around a table discussing the fate of the ring of power. Sorry, wrong franchise. They talk about what to do with the green meanies and such.

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of Duncan Jones fans who turn a misstep from an immensely talented director into a Greek tragedy. It's because of Jones' dedication to Warcraft's silly/epic tone that turns this derivative crap into such an entertaining block of gooey cheese. I know that Jones is also one of the screenwriters, but how much quality, A-class entertainment could have been extracted from a video game that's seventy percent Tolkien/AD&D plagiarism and thirty percent Fantasy Writing for Idiots gogbbledygook, which brings us intensely-read lines akin to "What do you mean the blargblorgs stormed the gates of gagagugu using flartybart magic!?"

Listen, general movie audience looking to spend their hard earned moolah on quality blockbuster entertainment with engaging, original characters battling in a thrilling and awe-inspiring fantasyland: I don't want any of you to just look at the star rating and think I wholeheartedly recommend Warcraft to you, only for you to comment below about this movie being trash. It's trash, unintentional or not (Although I have faith in Duncan Jones' self-awareness), and that's what makes it worthwhile for weirdos like me who take perverse pleasure out of movies that are not afraid to bathe in schlock. Clankety-clank-clank, whoosh, kablammo!!

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Warcraft is an overtly stylized fantasy. As far as a direct departure from any form of realism is concerned, it's even more removed in its visual style than many of its' contemporary genre counterparts. This is practically a colorful, slightly adult animated adventure, and thus is filled with frames where a single bright color is dominant, from the browns of the plains, to the stark blues of the night scenes. The 1080p transfer is aces when it comes to faithfully transitioning the film's bold visuals to home video. If you're into Warcraft's look, even though I know many of you aren't, this is a demo-worthy gift to the fans.

Audio:

One of the best aspects of Warcraft, one that doesn't get tainted by the film's occasional goofiness, is Ramin Djawadi's bombastic and exciting score that perfectly fits the tone of the film. The main theme during the opening, as it blared through the Dolby Atmos track, brought my home theatre to life. Appropriate to its' over the top tone, the sound mix is always vibrant, and the Blu-ray transfer brings the blockbuster experience to home with a clear and lively presentation.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes: 13 minutes of scenes that add pretty much nothing to the story. The animation in many of the scenes is unfinished.

Gag Reel: 4 minutes of slightly amusing bloopers.

The WoW on Film: Six featurettes, each of them around 5 minutes, briefly explore various aspects of the film, from the origins of the story, to the special effects and the stunts.

The Fandom of Warcraft: Since the film was obviously made only for the fans, it makes sense that we get a 6-minute exploration of the WoW fandom.

Bonds of Brotherhood Motion Comic: This is pretty cool. We almost get another feature with this hour-long motion comic that expands on the Warcraft story. Yes, it's a motion comic, but it's occasionally better written, and is more brutal than the film itself.

The Madame Tussaud Experience: A 7-minute commercial for the movie tie-in wax figures that can be seen at Madame Tussaud's.

Behind the Magic of Warcraft: A 2-minute EPK that glosses over ILM's special effects. Pretty useless if you watched The WoW on Film stuff.

We also get the 2013 Teaser, which showed a longer version of the opening scene.

Final Thoughts:

The A/V specs of Warcraft should be highly satisfying for fans of the film. For everyone else, it's pure cheese that will either turn you off or charm you despite its many shortcomings.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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