Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Review: Central Intelligence (PG13 – 114 minutes)

Everybody loves a great buddy comedy.  Well, almost everyone loves a great buddy comedy.  They usually follow the setup of two opposite personalities being thrown together for an adventure, then hijinks ensue.  Trading Places, 48 hours, Twins, The Heat, etc.  It’s a really old formula, and it keeps getting made because it works.

This movie is no exception – it’s solid, not overwhelming, but solid.  The tagline, “Saving the world needs a little Hart and a big Johnson” should pretty much give you an idea of the tone of the movie.  Get it?  Because Dwayne Johnson is huge and Kevin Hart is tiny?  Not as funny as you want, but not terrible.

The movie opens with a flashback to a 1996 high school senior assembly – Calvin Joyner is the valedictorian who rules the school and is voted most likely to succeed.  Robbie Weirdict is an overweight kid who showers at school during first period.  Some bullies find him and throw him naked onto the middle of the gym floor during the assembly.  Everyone laughs except Calvin, who gives Robbie his letter jacket to help cover up. 

Cut to 20 years later, and Calvin is an accountant who just got passed over for a promotion, is married to his high school sweetheart, and deciding not to go to the 20 year reunion, because he feels he hasn’t lived up to his potential, and that his star is not as bright as it was in high school.  He randomly gets a friend request on Facebook after responding to the reunion group from a Bob Stone.  He accepts, and in order to get out of going to couples therapy with his wife, agrees to meet with Bob at a bar for drinks.  Once there, he realize that Bob is the man who used to be Robbie, and is now – well - he's now the Rock.

Bob gets real friendly real quick, and after beating up some terrible bullies in the bar, they head to Calvin’s house – where Bob suspiciously asks Calvin for help looking up some ‘payroll’ information.  Calvin’s computer gets pinged right before Bob “accidentally” spills a beverage on it.  The next morning, Bob disappears just as the CIA shows up and asks Calvin where he is.  From there on – Calvin gets wrapped up in a mystery where he has to decide if he trusts Bob – who says he’s a CIA agent who has been framed with an international crime, or Bob’s former boss – who says he’s crazy, a criminal, a murderer, and on the run.  Hijinks and fun cameos ensue.

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who previously did Dodgeball (A True Underdog Story), and We’re the Millers, is good at screwball comedy with surprising heart moments.  This is definitely that.  Not every joke hits, and some feel a little forced, but the movie has a great anti-bullying message, and some laughs all the way through.  The cast is small, but game.
  • Dwayne Johnson plays Bob Stone and plays this a little bigger than we’re used to seeing him.  He’s usually the action hero, or in a comedy, the straight man.  Here – he gets to play the goofy one.  It actually works pretty well, and you believe that this guy is all in on trying to solve this case.  At first his devotion to Calvin comes off as weird and a little stalker-y, but the advantage of the charm of the Rock is that it goes through creepy to devoted, and you can see that this man attributes most of his positive outlook in life to the one kind gesture from Calvin in high school, and is now able to turn that positivity around and feed it back to Calvin, who needs a boost of self-confidence.  I’m not sure anyone else could have pulled that off; it would have just stayed creepy with any other actor. 

  • Hardest-working-man-in-Hollywood Kevin Hart plays Calvin Joyner – and if you haven’t seen any of his stand-up specials, check them out, they are on Netflix.  He’s lightning-paced, and usually is the over-the-top goofy one.  However, here, he’s the straight man.  It’s interesting, and he does well.  They also use the obvious height difference to great comedic effect throughout the movie.  Hart makes you feel for Calvin as he slowly gains self-confidence during his screw-ball adventure with Bob.

  • Amy Ryan plays Agent Harris, and doesn’t have much to do aside from grumpily chase Bob around and demand assistance from Calvin.  She plays it with a snarky superiority that really does help the comedy.

  • Danielle Nicolet plays Calvin’s wife Maggie and has even less to do.  She basically just keeps requesting that he go to couples therapy with her and go to the reunion with her.

  • Jason Bateman plays Trevor – the former high school bully – who is still a dick.  Bateman is always a great addition to a comedy, and it’s great to see him get his comeuppance in this flick.

  • Aaron Paul plays Bob’s dead partner Phil; and yes, does work ‘bitch’ into a sentence for you Breaking Bad fans.  He fits well into the role, and I’d be interested in seeing him do more weird comedies.

  • Ryan Hansen plays Steve, Calvin’s co-worker.  He’s one of those guys that you’ve seen everywhere before, but might not know his name.  He’s hilariously annoying in this.
Hart and Johnson are wonderful together, play well off each other, and I did love flipping what would have been the assumed tones between them.  I would love to see them in more movies together, certainly they could throw together a sequel to this.  This movie is fun, reiterates a wonderful anti-bullying message, and has the number one thing all comedies should have – outtakes over the end credits! 

7 out of 10 – gained points for the chase sequences, for Calvin rescuing Bob, and for Bob surviving Agent Harris’s torture in a hilarious manner.

Bonus – Megan Trainor’s All About that Bass video – the big dude dancing is the one who body doubled for the Rock in High School in Central Intelligence, he is an awesome dancer!  Random trivia for you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Retro Movie Review: Independence Day (1996 – PG13 – 145 minutes)

This movie has been on my mind a lot lately, for lots of reasons.  First and foremost, there is a sequel being released in just a week or two, 20 years after the original was released.  Amazing.  But even more so – lately it seems that Hollywood marketing people have lost their minds.  For a lot of recent movies – Independence Day Resurgence among them – I feel like the commercials and trailers have been showing way too much of the movie.  I worry that they have ruined the end of this one in particular, that giant alien you’ve seen stomping around? I’m sure that’s the finale of the flick.  Earlier this year, they did BVS Dawn of Justice no favors by showing that Doomsday was featured, and last summer they showed the IRex from Jurassic World, which would have been a stunning reveal had they kept it under wraps – plus the reveal of Pratt’s keeper riding with the velociraptor pack.  

I feel like in terms of movies that did it right, I always remember the original Independence Day.  I remember for the Superbowl in early 1996, prior to hearing anything about the movie, there was a commercial that just showed that amazing shot of the White House blowing up. 

At that point, I still had no idea who was in the movie – or even what it was really about, and that one shot kept me looking forward to it for 5 months while we waited for the movie to come out.

Independence Day starts with an eerie shot of the moon on July 2nd as something moves past it.  A scientist at the SETI Institute (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – visit them at Seti.org) picking up on a signal.  He calls in the boss, and they listen to the signal together, initially wanting to write it off as much of the space garbage they hear regularly.  However, this one is clearly generated, communicative, and getting closer.  We then are gradually introduced to the main characters by seeing them in random locations – prepping for the July 4th holiday.  We meet the president, Thomas J. Whitmore, Air Force Pilot Captain Steven Hiller, his unnecessarily-a-stripper girlfriend, Jasmine, and her son; and MIT grad David Levinson.  The signal is finally analyzed - it is a giant alien mothership that has passed the moon and is taking up in orbit around the earth.  It releases 36 smaller spacecraft – each about 15 miles across (city-killers) that each enter the atmosphere and take up positions over the largest cities on Earth.  Remember how amazing seeing that was for the first time?

People behave as people will – some wanting to run up to the top of buildings with signs (“I hope they bring back Elvis!” – they don’t), and some panic and try to leave the cities (these are the smarter folks). Levinson realizes that they are using our own satellites to communicate (he works for a cable company) and immediately gets in touch with his ex-wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano – he grabs his father Julius, and they head from New York down to Washington D.C.  They get to the president, and David lets him know that the signal is a countdown to what he can only assume is an attack.  The president tries to pull back a helicopter that was flashing lights at the ship in order to try to communicate it, but as the countdown hits zero – each of the 36 ships attacks at the same time, launching a beam from the center of their ships to whatever is beneath, causing a ring of fire to move outwards, destroying whatever in comes in contact with. 

We then shift to July 3rd as the ships close up, and each one moves to the next city on their lists.  Humanity tries to assemble some sort of counter-attack, and we follow Capt. Hiller and his group as they attack the ship nearest to them. They quickly find that the ships have hundreds of smaller fighter ships inside, and most of our forces get wiped out in dogfights. Hiller leads one in a chase through the Grand Canyon, causing both his ship and it to crash – at this point, he climbs on top of the ship and when the alien attempts to pop out, he punches it in the face.  Because Will Smith.

The president, Connie, David, and Julius are hanging out on Air Force One, having barely escaped D.C., and now looking for a plan.  Julius accuses the President of not acting on the information he had from the aliens that crashed in 1947 and they were keeping in the secret base, Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. The President insists that this is not true, but Defense Secretary Nimzicki states that it is actually there – so there is where they head. 

Meanwhile, Hiller is dragging his punched-out alien through the desert and runs into a convoy of RVs led by Vietnam Vet, Crop Duster, and self-proclaimed alien abduction victim, Russel Case.  He instructs them to head to the secret base he saw from the air – convenient, because now everyone is heading to Area 51.

The President and crew meet Dr. Okun, who seems to be in charge of the place, he and his staff have three alien bodies from the 1947 crash and the ship – which has started to react in the last two days since the arrival of the others. They have some information on them, but not much – basically they wear bio-mechanical exo-suits and communicate telepathically.  When Hiller arrives with his alien, Okun starts an examination of it – removing it from the bio-suit.  However, it wakes up, trashes the place, and communicates through Okun to the president.  Whitmore asks what they want us to do, and very ominously, the alien responds “DIE”.  He then learns through some telepathy that the aliens are wanting to wipe us out to take the earth for its resources.  That doesn’t sit well with us, after all, we’re wanting to use up our own resources – so the president authorizes the military to try a nuclear weapon on one of the ships.  

That doesn’t work - why did they think it would?  David, in a fit of drunken despair, comes up with an idea to give their systems a virus.  Since we couldn’t get though their shields, but they are using our satellites, he designs a computer virus that will interrupt their communications, hopefully shutting down their shields, and allowing us to attack them. 

It’s a pretty great plan, or it’s the only plan, so Hiller quickly marries Jasmine, and David reconciles with Connie so that Hiller and David can fly the old ship up to the mother ship and upload the virus. The president gives a really inspiring speech to everyone left who is about to take to the skies to fight as dawn breaks on July 4th.

Hiller and David head up (nevermind how Hiller knows how to fly the ship); just as another ship moves in over the base to send out its fighters and destroy the base.  David uploads the virus (nevermind how his system can interact with theirs), and just when they think their trip is one way – they shoot a nuclear missile into the mother ship – dislodging theirs, and head down as quickly as possible. 

The fighters on the ground can now destroy the smaller ships because the shields are down, but the larger city-killer is too big for them to take out, until Russel Case flies his ship directly up the center weapon-hole.  This sets off explosions from the inside, and they communicate that to everyone all over the world, so they know how to bring down the aliens.

Hiller and David crash out in the desert to be greeted by Connie, Jasmine and the president – everyone is all happy as the ships crash down around them.  Hooray! Humanity wins!  At least until we go see Independence Day Resurgence, I mean – who knows how the aliens have spent the last 20 years.  My guess is that they are seriously angry with us.

Directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Dean Devlin, this movie is the best of their multiple team-ups.  Prior to this, they had done Universal Soldier (1992) and Stargate (1994).  They followed this with the terrible Godzilla (1998), the Patriot (2000 – you remember, the movie about the American Revolution starring two Australians?).  You can tell, at least from Universal Soldier and Stargate, that Emmerich excels at big sweeping action movies (he also did The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and White House Down) and as much as I loved both Universal Soldier and Stargate, this movie is really fantastic, and still holds up.  The pacing of the movie – cleanly broken into the three days – really helps to get the audience on board with the speed of the attack.  The effects at the time were ground breaking, and the first scenes of the ships breaking into the atmosphere and slowing down were stunning and amazing.  It is a bit heavy-handed in the triumph scenes, especially in insinuating that the rest of the world was just sitting around waiting for the Americans to come up with a solution, but it does manage to balance that with some more quiet, touching scenes – especially with the death of the First Lady.  The scope of the movie is incredible – it manages to be a really huge global story, but by giving us multiple really interesting characters – also manages to feel fairly personal.
  • This is a Will Smith movie, and definitely helped to cement his role as an action star.  This came right after Bad Boys – and Smith feels completely genuine and believable as Capt. Hiller. He never gets overwhelmed by the situation, preferring to handle one issue at a time, ready to take on each challenge as it comes up.  The interesting backstory of him always wanting to be an astronaut was a nice bit – but never really gets developed, just pays off when he finally gets to fly the spaceship.  His shooting Suicide Squad prevented him from joining in the upcoming sequel, but hopefully they’ve handled the lack of Will with grace.

  • Bill Pullman plays President Whitmore, and does a great job of making the audience really sympathize with this former pilot from the Gulf War as he shifts to leading the country.  Not to mention the fact that he jumps into a plane for the final fight – come on, that’s awesome.  And yes, that speech – however cheesy – still gives me chills.

  • Jeff Goldblum plays David Levinson, and this came just three years after Jurassic Park, so Goldblum was familiar to summer tentpole audiences.  He makes David very relatable, and really snarky and fun.  Plus, who doesn’t love a guy who once punched the president over a lady?

  • Mary McDonnell plays the First Lady – good practice before she headed over to BSG and accidentally became president there.  She stands by Whitmore, when all the critics are calling him ‘too soft’, and then handles her helicopter crash with grace.

  • Judd Hirsch – who is really only a few years older than Goldblum, plays Julius.  He is very cranky and very Jewish, and is mostly comedy relief. 

  • Robert Loggia plays General Grey – who serves as the president’s military advisor.  He handles this alien invasion the way you expect a career military man to handle it.  He doesn’t become flustered – just finds a way to attack.

  • Randy Quaid plays the very crazy Russell Case, who you assume is crazy when he talks about how he was abducted years ago – but then you start to realize he might have been right.  His over-the-top delivery of his final line to the aliens as he’s bringing the ship down is a bit much – but hey – it fits the character I suppose.

  • Margaret Colin plays Connie Spano – and is great at being annoyed at Goldblum when he shows up.  She also is quick to believe him and gets him in to see the president just in time.

  • Vivica A. Fox plays Jasmine, and yes – she loves dolphins – but is the fact that she is a stripper really the reason NASA won’t let Hiller become an astronaut?  That seems crazy, but hey – I don’t know anything about NASA’s hiring practices.  She got called in to work on her day off, even though there is a giant spaceship hovering over L.A. She also proves to be pretty handy in a crisis – stealing a huge truck and rescuing the first lady.

  • James Rebhorn plays Nimziki – a standard government tool who didn’t tell the president about Area 51 because of ‘plausible deniability’.

  • Harvey Fierstein plays Harvey Fierstein as the head of the cable company that David is working for – he’s strictly comedy relief as he helps try to get people out of the building once David realizes the aliens are going to attack.
  • Adam Baldwin plays Major Mitchell – a military employee at Area 51.

  • Bent Spiner goes completely nuts at Dr. Okun – a re-creation of a production designer named Okun that Emmerich and Devlin worked with on StarGate. He is goofy and weird, but really helps light the middle of the movie. 

  • Harry Connick Jr. plays Jimmy – Hiller’s flying partner who gets taken out really quickly while fighting the first wave of attackers.  He certainly was charming while there, though.

  • Erick Avari gets a bit cameo as the head of SETI in the beginning of the movie, presumably since he held up so much of StarGate previously for Emmerich and Devlin.

Overall, the movie was fantastic, fun, exciting, and watchable.  It still holds up.  I tend to watch it just about every Independence Day.  I wish movies today would have that same sense of amazement I had when I first saw it, and I’m worried that the commercials/trailers have ruined what would have been those moments for the second.  Much of the original cast is back, and I really look forward to seeing what happens this time around.

9 out of 10 – taking off a point for Randy Quaid, and for Adam Baldwin’s toxic real-life personality, which now colors my opinion of him when I see him onscreen.

Bonus – Stargate, before Spader went Ultron, he was Kurt Russell’s sidekick.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Movie Review: Warcraft (PG13 – 123 minutes)

This new movie, Warcraft, is based on the franchise of video games and books by Blizzard Entertainment that include Warcraft: Orcs & Humans from 1994, all the way through the online World of Warcraft.  These are all set in and around the world of Azeroth. It’s a high fantasy world and the Orc Horde comes through a portal to begin a ‘great war’. It’s populated by many races, including the standard humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs and trolls – but also includes night elves, Tauren, and other races. The idea of a Warcraft movie has been kicked around for the last 10 years, and really, only now is the technology where it needs to be to portray it as beautifully as the games do.

Spoiler Alert up front on this one, I’m going through the whole plot because it was insane, and that’s the only way I can keep the names straight. 

This movie begins with a voice-over narration that seems to imply this story was taking place in the past.  We open on an Orc couple named Durotan and Draka.  Durotan is the leader of the Frost Wolf clan, and Draka is pregnant with their first child. Their world is dying, and all the Orc clans are massing to follow their magical leader Gul’Dan to a new world.  

First, however, the plan is to send through a ‘raiding party’.  Originally Draka was not supposed to go, but she hides her pregnancy and goes with her husband.  We learn that Gul’Dan’s magic may not necessarily be his own – it’s called the Fel, and seems to be powered by sucking the life out of prisoners (similar to what the skeksies were doing in the Dark Crystal if you remember that).  Gul’Dan is dragging around a human/orc half breed named Garona – who seems to be used as a translator.  Gul’Dan opens a giant portal to send the raiding party through, which results in Draka giving birth to their son, who seems to be born dead, but Gul’Dan uses some of the Fel to revive him – causing him to be green, though both his parents are not green.  I mention this because it was a little difficult to follow throughout the movie which orcs were possessed by the Fel and which were not.  Trust me, that’s not the most confusing thing in this…but it’s one of them.

We learn that the world the orcs have crashed into is populated by humans, dwarves, and some other folks (but we never really get to know much about them).  Anduin Lothar is King Llane Wrynn’s right hand dude, either because they’ve always been friends or because Llane is married to Taria – who is Lothar’s sister. Well, the king and Lothar get word that villages are getting… pillaged? Looted? And many, many prisoners are being taken.  Khadgar – who seems to be a mage or some sort that has recently left the order of mages (I’m not even going to pretend like I completely understood this bit), brings up that there is dark magic at play – and so the king, Lothar, and Khadgar have to go get the Guardian – who seems to be head magician in the land.  His name is Medivh – and he is spending most of his time these days in the top of his castle/magic nexus shirtlessly building a golem out of clay and being attended by his buddy Moroes.  

Once our party shows up and asks for his help, he agrees, even though Khadgar was poking around in his library.  He puts on his fanciest robes and heads out with them to check out a village.  Of course, they run into an Orc hunting party, lead by Blackhand, and including Durotan and his best bud Orgrim. Durotan has gotten a little worried about Gul’Dan’s plans, and is worried for his clan, so he’s thinking they need to overthrow him, and it might be a good time to ally with the humans. 

Garona is with this Orc raiding party – I can only assume to translate stuff?  That seems unnecessary, since they are taking everyone prisoner. The humans are a bit terrified of the Orcs at first (because they are huge and intimidating), but then Lothar figures out to beat them with smarts instead of brute force. Medivh studies the remains of the Fel, and Khadgar shows some pretty impressive magic skills for a dude who gave up the ‘calling’.  He captures Garona, who they take back to the king. 

Here she gives a bunch of exposition (they are orcs, they come from here, they’re looking for this, they’re following Gul’Dan…etc.)– Medivh heads back to his castle to ponder and research – Taria bonds with Garona and releases her. During their next outing – Durotan gets close enough to Garona to request that she set up a meeting between himself and the human king.  Lothar is not sure about this, but they agree, and so Llane and Lothar go to meet up with Durotan and Orgrim, in what is the very best place for an ambush. 

Orgrim tells Durotan he’s going to check on the perimeter – while through Garona’s translation, Durotan tells Llane about Gul’Dan’s power and plan – he’s collecting prisoners to build and power another, larger gate, to bring through the rest of the Orc Horde.  This is all going very well when we realize that Orgrim actually ratted out Durotan to Gul’Dan.  Blackhand appears, and very quickly his crew of bad Orcs (they’re green) start wiping out both Durotan’s group and Llane’s group.  Medivh sets up a lightning wall to help (which actually is more hindering) and Lothar’s son, who was a guard for the king (did I forget to mention Lothar has a son that he’s overly protective of because his wife is dead?  I knew I would miss something), gets trapped on the other side of the lightning wall and killed by Blackhand, very brutally – because Blackhand is trying to piss off Lothar.

Okay – so, that went poorly, Durotan gets captured, Khadgar figures out that Medivh is acting a bit sketchy and goes back to the place he left – which seems to be a floating magic school-type-place.  Once there, he talks to a shadowy Glen Close (very similar to the windy Judi Dench in Chronicles of Riddick), who tells him that Medivh is infected by the Fel, and is now a threat.  

Orgrim has an attack of conscious, regrets that he was a traitor, and tells Draka to take her baby and flee while Gul’Dan has the rest of the Frost Wolf clan killed so none of them can rescue Durotan.  She doesn’t get very far, but sends the baby off, Moses-style.  Lothar starts drinking, Medivh tells Garona a story that seems to imply that he’s her father (what?!?), then she gets real flirty with Lothar. Llane decides to send what he can from the Alliance to the gate to prevent the Orc Horde from entering this world by preventing Gul’Dan killing their people to open the gate, but locks up a drunk Lothar, whom Khadgar rescues by turning a guard into a sheep. Seriously.

Meanwhile, Durotan challenges Gul’Dan to a one on one honor fight for his own freedom, during which Gul’Dan cheats, and starts to lose the allegiance of the horde, because that’s not honorable.  Durotan succeeds in exposing Gul’Dan as corrupted and horrible, but loses the fight, and then Gul’Dan basically terrifies the rest of the Orcs into following him anyway - so that was a huge waste.  Lothar and Khadgar battle Medivh at his castle because he’s completely succumbed to the Fel now, and once successful (barely) that stops the gate from opening, so Lothar heads to the battle. Llane and Garona and troops rescue most of the prisoners, but while fighting – they get surrounded, and for some reason that I am still not entirely clear on, Llane decides it’s best that Garona kill him, instead of Blackhand, because then she will have more clout in the horde, and can help bring peace between the two people. Oh, wait, maybe I was clear on that. As Lothar arrives to grab the king’s body to head back home, he’s tackled by Blackhand, and challenged to one on one combat.  Lothar surprisingly easily beats Blackhand, and just as Gul’Dan orders him killed anyway – Garona reminds Gul’Dan of their ways and traditions, and that if he kills Lothar, he will lose control of the horde completely.

The movie ends with a funeral for Llane, as Taria states his death will help bring peace, and Garona seems to be in charge of the horde, sort of, and a shot of Durotan and Draka’s little green baby being fished out of the water by some humans, while a voiceover by Durotan reminds us that he is from an ‘unbroken line of chieftains.’

That sounds like a lot, but that’s still with me leaving out Khadgar’s book research, the Alliance meeting, the dwarves creating guns, Lothar’s griffin, Blackhand’s confrontation with Gul’Dan, Medivh’s transformation as he’s possessed, and Garona implying that Khadgar would not survive sex with her.

Warcraft is directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son), who previous did Moon with Sam Rockwell, and Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal. Visually, the movie is stunning.  It looks absolutely amazing, and if you’re going to see it – see it in 3D.  The orcs are beautiful and are all performance capture, so yes, it’s all the actors playing those roles. The movie is vivid and lush, and you can tell those who made it loved the game and really wanted to do right by the source material.  I think that’s both a positive and a negative.  It made them want to include so many different characters and storylines that the movie feels a little overcomplicated. I never played any of the games, but from what I’ve read, most of the story and characters are from the first game, so in theory, they are setting themselves up for a franchise. The names are complicated, and sometimes tough to remember, but it’s that way with most fantasy worlds/stories, so that’s not much of an issue. But I do wish the characters would call each other by name more often. Reading IMDB after seeing the movie was the first time I learned Khadgar’s name. I’m not sure anyone called him that in the movie. Personally, I loved that the movie opened on Durotan’s story, and gave members from both sides leading roles – something that Jones added to the script after signing on to direct it.  Everyone in it commits and seems to be having a good time, so credit to the cast for elevating the material when possible.

  • Travis Fimmel plays Anduin Lothar, and certainly puts to use his experience from the History TV Show Vikings.  He’s definitely on the rise, and this was a good choice for him. He’s very watchable, and though I first became aware of him on the CW Tarzan show from years ago (you heard me right), he’s certainly gaining new fans here and there.

  • Paula Patton is usually one note, and that note is usually the pretty girl.  She does just fine in this as Garona, and may have found a new niche as angry and then confused warrior.  She gets makeup and prosthetics, while the rest of the orcs were all CG.

  • Ben Foster plays Medivh, and while notorious for taking himself way too seriously (he packed ice and snow in his underwear for the scene in 30 Days of Night where his character walked through the snow so that he would be able to portray the ‘cold’ better), he does a good job in this. However, at no point did I believe he was a good guy, even when he was shirtlessly carving his golem. Shirtlessly carving a golem - not a phrase you get to use all that often.

  • Dominic Cooper – young Howard Stark and newly minted Preacher – plays King Llane.  He’s just fine, and certainly pulls off royalty without an issue, but didn’t have much to do but make kingly decisions and ride into battle.

  • Toby Kebbell plays Durotan, and really, I would argue is the lead of the movie.  Durotan looks amazing, and really is the most sympathetic character in the movie with the best storyline as he tries to free his people from their oppressive leader and find them a new peaceful world.

  • Ben Schnetzer plays the young magician Khadgar.  He was pretty fun and did a good job of portraying a guy who always has a trick up his sleeve.

  • Robert Kazinsky (from Pacific Rim) plays Orgrim, and he’s such a Warcraft player that he used to play 18 hours a day, according to him.  Orgrim is a really interesting character, and I can’t wait to see if they get a sequel, what he does next.

  • The wonderful Clancy Brown plays Blackhand, and becomes quite a villain/henchman to Gul’Dan. He doesn’t have an arc so much as starts out bad and then gets straight up evil.

  • Daniel Wu, from Into the Badlands on AMC (catch up on that if you missed it), plays Gul’Dan, and he’s actually a really interesting villain. Is he bad from the beginning? Is he a pawn of the Fel? Is he guided by something else? Well, we know that he’s all evil – and surprisingly good at hand to hand combat when it comes down to it.

  • Ruth Negga from Agents of SHIELD and Preacher plays Lady Taria, Lothar’s sister and Llane’s wife.  She has very little to do but walk around in great outfits and be queenly.

  • Anna Galvin plays Draka – and she’s very cool for the short time she’s in the movie.

  • And because the movie was shot in Vancouver, Callum Keith Rennie is in it, just as he’s in everything shot in Vancouver. Remember that season of BSG where he kept Starbuck prisoner and just kept coming back after she killed him over and over again?  I’m so used to him being a villain that it was very awkward to see him as Medivh’s manservant and assume he wasn’t some horrible villain in hiding.

Listen, it’s gotten terrible reviews, and yes, it’s overlong and over-complicated, but – as I said – it looks amazing, and whether or not you played the game, if you are into fantasy movies and stories, give this a chance, I think you will enjoy it.  I was not expecting much, so I certainly enjoyed it more than I expected.

7 out of 10 – Points for Durotan being awesome, and for that baby being really cute until he growls.  Lost points for Ben Foster being weird.
Cast Interviews

Bonus – Travis Fimmel as a very CW version of Tarzan - It had Lucy Lawless and Mitch Pileggi - so of course I watched every episode...