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Movie Review: Warcraft

Tonight we tried to watch the Hamildoc but it seems that either the fandom swamped the stream and broke PBS or the DOS attacks were involved. (FWIW the issue I had was in buffering, so I only saw maybe two minutes of synced sound and video....whev, I'll watch it tomorrow. Sigh.)

Anyway, instead we watched Warcraft, or at least I did (Scott fell asleep pretty quickly), and....it turns out I have A LOT of feels about it. Like, if you look past the uneven CGI and the messy script (like, seriously, did anyone who doesn't play the game understand half of what was going on?), it does a lot of things rather brilliantly: it manages to have several women characters, none of whom are objectified or abused; it shows how sometimes pretty much everyone can be doing something for the right reasons and how often this actually works out badly; rather bravely it manages to take a fantasy summer popcorn film and make it an actual tragedy. That is no small thing.

The thing that struck me, too, is how it pretty much does all the things that Game of Thrones (books and tv) are lauded for, in terms of gritty storytelling and realism and so on, and manages to do so **without** boobies, rape, incest, extended torture sequences, some more rape, and problematic white saviorness. (Although we could have some interesting discussions about how race is codified in other ways, there are actually more POC in Stormwind than there are in Star Trek. Which is a whole other kettle, but anyway.) The final big battle scene isn't Ran, but we nonetheless watch most of the characters we have come to care about die and--this is the kicker--it isn't cool at all. It's *sad.* It's *sad* when Draka dies to save her baby, it's *sad* when Durotan chooses to let Guldan kill him so people will turn against Guldan (and it doesn't even WORK!), it's *sad* when Llane asks Garona to kill him so that she can survive and work for peace within the Horde. People complained about how the fight scenes weren't cool, and....I kind of think that was the point. War is awful and people die and that's awful.

You see this in the game, too, but I also like how the narrative shifts between sides so that it starts out "For the Horde", blends in the middle, and ends in "For the Alliance." I thought that was a lovely bit of bookending that also made its point about how each side has both heroes and villains, and the whole shades of grey thing. There are a couple of scenes where Garona Halforcen acts as translator, and when POV shifts the highlighted speaker is heard in English that sort of emphasizes who sees themselves as heroes in a given moment. (And I have feels about Garona acting in a liminal space too, and how that was done. Like, a lot of them.)

TL;DR Warcraft was surprisingly complex and I liked it a lot, especially the gratuitous scene when Khadgar turned an NPC into a sheep, because I haven't seen low-level spells like that in ages.


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