A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Warcraft is a sci-fi/fantasy adventure based on the hit video game franchise, and teens are very likely going to want to see it. The biggest issue is violence, which is frequent and strong, with lots of visual effects, fighting, and killing. Characters are stabbed with swords, shot with primitive guns, and bashed with giant hammers. There are quick images of skulls being smashed and necks snapped and a horse smashing up against a tree, as well as some scary images (monsters, a bad guy sucking the life from humans, etc.) and a digital orc baby in peril. Characters die, but not much blood is shown. Expect a bit of flirting and a woman in a skimpy outfit; while the movie does feature a capable female character, she -- like the rest of the characters -- isn't very fleshed out and seems there solely to serve the plot.
What's the story?
In WARCRAFT, the land where the orcs live is dying, but they can survive by traveling through a glowing green portal to a human-inhabited world. As the orcs begin to take over, the king (Dominic Cooper), his best warrior (Travis Fimmel), and a young mage (Ben Schnetzer) try to stop them. They summon their protector, the wizard-like "Guardian" (Ben Foster), and they also meet a kind of half-orc, half-human refugee, Garona (Paula Patton). Meanwhile, the benevolent, noble orc Durotan (Toby Kebbell) decides to try to team up with the humans to stop their cruel leader, who's using dark, evil magic to stay in power. Everything leads up to a final battle, wherein the portal could be opened again, and all will be lost.
Is it any good?
Disinterested, disengaged storytelling, stale dialogue, and an overuse of familiar visual effects add up to a forgettable big-screen rendition of the beloved video game. Even fans will find this dull. Most of Warcraft is likely to make you think of other, more successful movies -- Avatar frequently comes to mind -- or else makes you wonder what the heck is actually going on. Story elements are either dropped, ignored, or forgotten, and eventually viewers are left either confused or bored.
The movie seems to want to be about teamwork and striving for peace, but, as it ends, it seems to promise only more war. Characters are extremely thinly drawn (it will be difficult for non-fans to even remember their names), and their emotional interactions are mainly dialogue-based (i.e. they explain their relationships to one another). There's no feeling here. It's a shame, since director Duncan Jones' previous two movies (Moon and Source Code) were so smart, and Warcraft is just the opposite.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's the appeal of movies based on video games? How well does this one work compared to the game?
What's the movie's message? Is teamwork valued? Is peace valued? How does war affect the characters?
Is Garona character a role model? Why or why not?
- In theaters: June 10, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 27, 2016
- Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster
- Director: Duncan Jones
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: extended sequences of intense fantasy violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.