This film is just what it needed to be: first, a fantastic piece of WoW-gamer fan service, and second, an adequate if uneven opening to what will hopefully become a solid fantasy film franchise.
I expect Warcraft to receive poor reviews from mainstream film critics who aren’t familiar with the game world. It doesn’t function well as a stand-alone story compared to past fantasy epics. But, I think the critics will be surprised by its commercial success. I expect the follow-up sequels to feature more solid direction now that the franchise has a grounding in Hollywood – just as the Lord of the Rings films got stronger as the trilogy developed.
ILM did an amazing job on the CGI characters – most of whom acted more believably than the humans! I loved the subtle facial expressions when the orcs teased each other.
The violence seemed overdone, but I imagine having so many bloody war scenes was a requirement to ensure success in non-English markets in case the subtler drama failed to connect.
Some of the human roles felt mis-cast and performed (or were directed?) half-heartedly. For example, I felt he quiet scene between Medivh and Garona where they discuss lost families fell flat.
Seeing the WoW world in high-resolution film was amazing. I particularly loved seeing Karazhan, Dalaran, and what looked like part of the Nexus, after spending so much time in those places in game. Stormwind was perfect down to the classic circular candelabras. Playing mostly on the Horde side myself, I can’t wait to see more of the orc, Tauren, and Blood Elf worlds – though the Blood Elves looked terribly silly in this film, and I hope they get re-designed for any sequels.
Lastly, I very much enjoyed the subtler WoW references, like Khadgar explaining how Polymorph works “for 60 seconds, and only on the weak-minded,” and Lothar’s response that his last visit to Karazhan was about six years ago – yeah, me too buddy!