Warcraft 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Should we just accept that it’s impossible to adapt video games into movies? I wasn’t that familiar with the World of Warcraft before sitting down to watch the latest video game adaptation, but there was nothing I saw that led me to believe it was even possible to make this into a good movie. Maybe it required a familiarity with the game before watching, in which case the filmmakers lost before they even filmed a single frame, or maybe they just failed to bring in the non-gamers. Either way, as a film, WARCRAFT struggled.
Director Duncan Jones (who did a fantastic job with the much smaller MOON) starts things off with a very brief narration about how Orcs and Humans have been battling for many years. Before I even get past the opening narration, I have to point out that he starts off by confusing the audience. The pre-battle scene we’re introduced to is what I presume is present day in this world, then as the shot fades, we get to our main Orc, Durotan, who is presumably in the distant past. But all of that is a bit confusing since Durotan is narrating the opening, even though the events he’s narrating are in the future. Or maybe it’s not even him narrating; the point is that this is the kind of incomprehensible mess we’re in for over the next two hours.
Once you wade through some of the nonsense, the overall plot is that the main Orc uses a dark magic that sucks the life out of everything it touches and he’s using that to open a portal to another world, where he will kill everything he sees. That world is the world of humans, elves (that we don’t really see) and dwarves (again, that we don’t see). What comes next is some strategic maneuvering between the humans and orcs as they call upon their magic to help them out.
So what went wrong? For starters, we just don’t know this world or the rules that govern it. We see the different species of beings, but we have no history of who they are or why they do/don’t like each other. We understand the Orcs destroyed their planet, but have no understanding of why they follow a leader that basically led the destruction. We know the human world is at peace, but we don’t know anything else about it, other than Lothar (Fimmel) seems to be able to fight better than any other human. Since we don’t really understand any of the motivations or even what’s going on, it’s impossible to care about anything. There’s a moment where one of the main characters loses someone he supposedly loves, but since he didn’t seem to care all that much, there was no reason for the audience to care.
So let’s ignore the plot problems and get to the action sequences. It was fun watching Lothar out maneuver the Orcs and he did some fancy sword work, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the big battle sequences that lasted too long and went nowhere. The use of magic was fun to watch, but the magic had no rules around it, so we never knew who could do what or when. In every battle, everyone waited for the magicians to come in and do their thing, so the audience didn’t know whether to enjoy the Orc on human battles or wait for the magicians.
The problems go on and more questions were posed that probably shouldn’t have been, like was that a love story subplot or was he really her father? WARCRAFT felt like a scrambled mess of a movie and at just over two hours long, it felt at times it wouldn’t end. But when it’s all said and done, I’m not convinced it was possible to make a good WARCRAFT movie, but I do know this wasn’t it.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: When we’re in a close-up, the 4K video quality of WARCRAFT is unparalleled. But when we have a scene that’s shot from a distance, it drops down to good video. For example, the scene where Durotan is sitting on top of the mountain, overlooking the Orc camp and plotting his alliance with the humans shows great detail in his skin, hair and clothing. But when the camera pans out to the overlook, I expected a lot more detail and instead, it felt a little saturated, with almost no upgrade over the Blu-ray. I also gave special attention to the scene where Lothar flies in (and eventually out) at the end to save the day. In this very heavy CGI scene, there’s very little increase in detail or colors. But where the 4K upgrade earns it’s money is in every scene where there are two beings talking up close. Even the CGI Orcs look spectacular and the extra 4K detail gives them a more realistic feel than the Blu-ray. The extra detail in the CGI characters is worth the 4K upgrade alone, even if certain battle scenes and far away shots didn’t prove it.
Audio: The coveted Dolby Atmos track is included and it sounds incredible. Despite the film’s problems, it did sound great.
There are no 4K exclusive features on this disc, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Deleted and Extended Scenes (13:55): 13 total scenes that aren’t long enough to make that much of a difference. I’ve read that there was at least another hour of footage that was cut and it would be interesting to see a “director’s cut”, but like I’ve said before, I’m not sure more footage would help anything.
The World of Warcraft on Film (33:50): This is a nice making of featurette broken into six parts. It covers everything from the development of the story, to the cast, the special effects and stunts.
The Fandom of Warcraft (6:36): A close look at the fans of the game.
Warcraft: The Madame Tussauds Experience (7:30): A look at the physical making of the various characters and sets.
ILM: Behind the Magic of Warcraft (3:00): This looks at a few different CGI-heavy scenes.
Warcraft teaser – 2013 (2:33): So this explains why the opening scene felt and looked so different from the rest of the film. This is an extended look at that scene that was shot years earlier.
Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood Motion Comic (53:45): This is sort of a companion piece that tells another story from the World of Warcraft.
Gag Reel (3:25): The cast and crew crack each other up.