'Warcraft' Movie Reviews Lead To Warring Opinions

Ven Lanyon

Legendary Picture's latest foray into the fantastic has hit international audiences, and it's a clear success story. Legendary, partnering with Universal Studios and Blizzard Entertainment, has finally released the long-rumored, long-awaited and long-desired Warcraft movie, and it's performing well by all accounts. Though the massive fantasy film still has two weeks to wait before U.S. and Chinese audiences can get a look at 2016's summer blockbuster season starter, Warcraft has already easily cleared $9 million in international markets. According to Variety, the film has topped the charts in 11 countries already, and broken a few records in such huge markets as Russia and Germany.

Initially intended as a video game adaptation of Games Workshop's own high-fantasy classic Warhammer, the video game was changed to its own property after the miniatures and war gaming giant stepped out of the deal, leaving Blizzard Entertainment to slap together something to make up for their losses. Despite its ominous origin story, the Warcraft franchise has grown into a massive success, spanning 11 video game titles (including expansions to previous titles), a pen-and-paper roleplaying game, and several offshoots and spin-offs. The fourth and fifth entries into the franchise, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, even spawned their own genre of video game, now dominating the casual sector with titles like League of Legends and Blizzard's own Heroes of the Storm.

However, the movie has received some criticism for its fast pace, which some reviewers believe takes away from the interesting characters, and for its clear favoritism toward fans. It's also been criticized by critics, including Hitfix, for being too dense, and "only act one of an obviously-larger story," despite being an otherwise fun film. Some names, characters and lines fall flat for audiences not intimately familiar with the Warcraft franchise, which may be off-putting. However, though Warcraft is nowhere near the epic saga telling of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings in its appreciation for the uninitiated audience, it nonetheless takes viewers on a fun, wild ride through a fun and bright world. Much less foreboding and serious than the Rings trilogy, the Warcraft movie does the bright and fun fantasy vibe right. It is clearly superior to Peter Jackson's own attempt at a more whimsical fantasy series with his Hobbit movies, which fans of the Rings movies criticised as derivative and forced.

[Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP]