I recently reviewed Warcraft: The Beginning and what really struck me is that I honestly did not understand the story. My main issue with the narrative is that it did not cater to those who were unfamiliar with the Warcraft games. A lot of things happened in the film at such a fast pace. In my quest to understand the film, I did a Q&A with a Warcraft fan called Nyn.
Nyn has been a Warcraft fan for more than a decade, and first played World of Warcraft in Vanilla. She is a former guild leader, an officer in her current guild, and a married mother with two daughters. Her “main” character is named Nynaeve (from the Wheel of Time books). Nyn loves fantasy, and grew up wanting to live in Middle-earth or Narnia.
Make sure to follow Nyn on twitter – @Lawilc01
Here is my Q&A with Nyn:
I guess the most important question is – did you enjoy Warcraft: The Beginning?
I loved it. And my non-Warcraft playing family enjoyed it too. They gave it 6-7/10!
I’d specifically like to address the female character thing by the way, if you do not mind, as I care about that too.
So did you feel that the lack of female involvement in the film was a problem?
Honestly, I think the director did the best he could considering the source material – there is actually a female character that didn’t actually exist in game canon, or at least wasn’t named (Taria Wrynn, Ruth Negga’s character).
In addition to that – if you notice in the armies on both sides – there are both female humans and female orcs. And one thing that people often have an issue with in the games and the movies is why are ALL the grunts all male too?
So overall, given the source material I was happy that the director did what he could within the constraints he had.
Do the games follow the same pattern, then? Female Orcs in battle, but not a lot of main characters?
They’ve gotten a lot better. We could still use more, but I think they’re trying to move in the right direction. The last expansion had a strong female character that was VERY important.
One other thing a few reviews picked up on! Did you notice that Taria and her brother were not the same ethnicity? They weren’t the same ethnicity, and the movie doesn’t address it, and just treats it like it’s totally natural because it is.
I didn’t, but if I’m honest I struggled to keep up with the film. Was that a problem for you?
I didn’t but I am super familiar with the source material.
For future Warcraft films, what do you think they can improve on?
The pacing was definitely kind of odd… there were a couple of places where even I said, “wait why did you cut away there.” A lot of it would be helped by getting to better source material, though. Because there are some WAY better stories yet to come – but if you started with those, it’s possible people might have been even more confused than they were with this one. Like, “Wait, who is this person…” etc.
I was one of those people. I really wanted to understand the story in general. I felt they tried to rush through it at times…
They did. But due to the sheer amount of lore, I’m not sure it was 100% avoidable.
BUT by the end I was hooked, and felt very invested.
That’s……kind of what the game does, to be honest. A new player has no idea what’s going on but the world itself draws you in.
So the film did to me what the game would do? So the film actually worked?
Yes. And one of the other reasons it felt true to the game world was the lack of a good race/bad race. Which is really hard to wrap your head around in a movie because we like things spelled out more clearly than that.
Do you think for the next one they should try and make it clearer for the non-Warcraft gamers? Or are you happy with the current format?
I think the stories that are upcoming might do that on their own, to be honest. There’s a “tragic hero and his downfall” story not too far down the road that I think people would easily “get.” With unlimited funds, this would have been better than the Game of Thrones serial format. But with limited funds the non-human side would have suffered, because the CGI costs would be enormous for a series. You have to be fair to both sides or it really isn’t accurate. It can’t be all humans all the time. There are a LOT of non humanoid races. And non CGI in this case loses some of the emotion. I just want folks to be able to hear these stories and get to know these characters, because I love them.
I would like to understand how the Orc world starting dying. Potential prequel, maybe?
You actually could do an entire movie from that. Heck, if you wanted to do an entire series just about orc history you could do that. But that’s also one of the problems.
How do you feel the Warcraft community has responded to the film?
Among the people I know – it has ranged from “not perfect but I still liked it” to BEST THING EVER. There are a few folks who got irritated at some lore changes, but a lot were “I like this version a bit better.” I know of at least one person who is up to their 4th viewing.
The lore changes they made actually improved things in a lot of people’s eyes
[Please note the next part of this Q&A may contain spoilers – so if you know nothing of World of Warcraft or the film and you do not want to know then please do not continue]
What changes exactly?
As an example, in game lore, Garona is mind-controlled by Gul’dan when she kills the king. The way it is done in the movie gives her more agency and her character more depth. A lot of people see that as a positive change, but there’re always those few who are going to be super pedantic!
Maybe the films will do that then. Like make changes that didn’t undermine the current lore. Maybe that’s the plan? They just need to be careful not to annoy the community by making too many changes?
I’m not too worried. Blizzard will be on top of that. Especially if Duncan (the director) is in charge – he played the games so he knows. And so did the actor that played Durotan’s friend Orgrim. So in general, I think how people reacted to the movie depended on if they were able to do what you did – let go of the idea that you were getting Lord of the Rings set in another universe and just let yourself be drawn into the world itself.
You’ve mentioned that some of the community were upset by some of the film critics?
I think you do need to have an open mind as a reviewer still, though – or that’s how we end up with a bunch of same-y movies. Just using this movie as an example – people got thrown off that there wasn’t an easy LotR hobbit guide – but then we will complain if all of our movies seem to be LotR redone.
An example – did you feel like the movie went out of its way to let you sympathize with some of the orcs?
Yes I really felt sorry for the main Orc, Durotan, especially when he got killed so ruthlessly.
It was really meant to not show them as ‘the villain,” it’s mostly two fathers trying to do the best thing for their families and people the best way they know how.
But some of the “professional” reviews completely missed that, and one even questioned if it was supposed to be a pro-Trump propaganda piece. That kind of thing actually does matter to me a lot. I am very pro-immigrant. And I thought that was an incredibly shallow reading.
How are the World of Warcraft games at the moment?
If you talk to some people, THE SKY IS FALLING THE GLORY DAYS HAVE PASSED DOOM IS NEAR. And the game did have a rather large subscriber drop after a huge boost at the beginning of the last expansion. (Up to 10 million and then back down to 5.)
Oh, and that was another annoyance some fans had with reviews. With some there was a tone of “failed movie made too late for a player-base that’s gone downhill”. I just – really didn’t find that a useful thing to be bringing up if the review is supposed to be focusing on the actual movie itself. It’s either a good movie or not, and the game’s subscriber numbers really do not feel relevant to me. We’ve also discovered with this film that we aren’t QUITE as culturally accepted as we thought maybe we’d gotten – there is still a bit more of a stigma attached to gaming than we thought. We’re still kind of back at that point where we’re the ones yelling “but guys, these Game of Thrones books are really good and you should read them!” But that’s an aside.
Anyway… back to the game – you also have to take into consideration that this is an MMO that is 10 years old…and even at 5 million, you could look at it as a game which managed to hold a 5 million player-base for an ENTIRE DECADE. There’s an expansion coming at the end of August that people are really excited for – there were some mistakes made this past expansion that people are optimistic the developers have learned from. People are wary, though – I remained subbed the entire expansion and looking back it really is a matter of, “yeah I can see what they were trying to do with that, but it REALLY didn’t work in a big way.” MMOs are also as a whole in a really weird place.
There’s a lot of competition (although WoW is still undeniably on top by a fairly significant margin) – and even the whole genre itself is competing with games you can play in smaller chunks – like mobile games, and things like MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). You can see that in the way Blizzard has tried to diversify their portfolio of games – bored of WoW? Go play Heroes of the Storm for a bit and then come back. Or Hearthstone, or StarCraft, or Diablo, or Overwatch! (By the way, have a look at the Overwatch hero roster as far as diversity goes. Not only are women well represented, WE GOT ONE THAT WASN’T STICK THIN. And it’s racially diverse too!)
I personally think that people calling the game dead/dying are being a bit premature.
One last question – what was your favourite part of the Warcraft movie?
I fell “in love” with Duncan Jones as a director and honestly as a person throughout watching the lead up to all this… and not only is he talented, he’s also a super nice person. And for me, watching this movie felt like someone gave a fan who is also a super talented director a big budget and said GO WILD. I LOVED the depiction of the magic. It was really accurate-looking. I LOVED how he went out of his way to squeeze as much diversity as he could in within the limitations of the source material. I LOVED that it really tried to stay true to the game. Huge amounts of attention to detail. In general I love knowing how much love and care went into the crafting of it.
Stealing from a tweet I just retweeted – they let Warcraft be Warcraft in all its nerdy glory.
Thank you Nyn – lovely speaking to you
Thank you! Lovely speaking to you too!