Warcraft, the upcoming film adaptation from director Duncan Jones based on Blizzard's wildly-popular game franchise, is set to arrive next month. While the film's marketing has been shoddy at best, there are more than a few fans of the game hoping that Warcraft might be the movie to break the dreaded video game adaptation curse.
That doesn't look to be the case, at least from early reviews. While there are a few mildly-positive ones among the bunch, they are mostly negative, some of them extremely so. The film currently sits at a 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and holds a 32 on Metacritic.
So, what's the deal? Many of the reviews in question take aim at the film's heavy use of CGI and lack of realism. Take this review from Variety, for example:
"Boasting more than 2,000 visual effects shots, it's dispiriting to think about the time, energy, planning and precision that went into Warcraft when the final product brings to mind those animated advertisements for iPhone app games," writes critic Geoff Berkshire. "So good at making the most outlandish elements of his first two films seem completely credible, Jones can't find a way to get this cartoony spectacle to soar. His heartfelt approach to the material only underlines the silliness."
There's also the film's core cast of characters themselves. Critics are saying the film's heroes and villains don't evolve beyond their simple archetypes.
"The cast seems mostly adrift, with only Schnetzer giving what might be considered an actual performance," writes Alonso Duralde for the Wrap. "The usually reliable Foster is reduced to gadding about like a prog-rock Jesus in a series of robes that make him look like he's posing for the side of someone's van, and poor Paula Patton gets saddled with a sad pair of novelty-store fangs."
One positive aspect of the film that appears to be universal is Warcraft's orc characters. Brought to life using motion-capture technology, the digital characters appear to be more endearing and expressive than the film's human ones.
"In terms of VFX, Warcraft is largely a triumph and Industrial Light & Magic‘s work on the Orc horde is the film's chief asset, coming off more convincing than their human counterparts," reads Russ Fischer's review via the Playlist. "The massive characters, scarred and wrapped in straps of leather and spiky armor, with great tusks thrust from their lower jaws, pass inspection even in lingering close-up. Kinetic battles do not fail them either; in the first skirmish especially, the Orcs are imposingly dangerous. And the mo-cap actors who play the primary characters are barely detectable in each visage."
Expect more reviews for the film to arrive in the coming days and weeks. As a result, its aggregate review scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic could very likely rise (or fall). If nothing else, it seems that fans of the game franchise may find aspects of Warcraft to enjoy. Whether or not that will be enough for the film to achieve box office success remains to be seen.
Warcraft is in theaters on June 10.