A story never translates quite the same way when it travels from one medium to another... and in the case of over 20 years worth of franchise story development, the rich, expansive lore of the Warcraft series is just a little too big to set up, especially in a movie. Today's high expectations for fantasy movies dictate a need for a good story, rounded, 3-dimensional characters, and enough action to satiate -- and the Warcraft movie crams that and a lot of lore into 2 hours.
Warcraft: The Beginning simply has to do its best -- and to its credit, its best has allowed the movie to stay largely faithful to the existing story and to the world. Its down-to-the-details recreation of familiar World of Warcraft areas like the Dark Portal, Dalaran, and Stormwind Keep have fans more excited than they'd first imagined.
June 10th marked the official release day of the Warcraft movie in the US but critic reviews have been trickling in for over a month. The movie released in several countries worldwide as early as May 26 (France). Thanks to the reviews most fans going in are pretty prepared to notice some differences.
The canon has been streamlined somewhat (for example, humans just get to have gryphons now), and some fans just don't like that. At all. If you're one of these, the following products probably aren't for you... but man, you won't be able to argue that they're still pretty cool anyway!
There are a few reasons why a WoW purist might not approve of this freakishly detailed statue of Orgrim Doomhammer... but the big one may just be the price tag, which is a whopping $449 (preorder) on Gentle Giant.
Historically he's always appeared green in Blizzard's official continuity but that's taken a bit of a turn in the movie canon. Not to say that all the Orcs are now brown, since we've seen ample evidence that there are green Orcs (Garona, as prime example) - but it's been noted that this could be a more visual way to distinguish "good" Orcs from the bad.
Since he has a huge story arc coming up in the future, it's hard to know whether or not Orgrim's skin will suffer a sea change in a future, or if it'll be explained at all. This statue measures 8" x 13" x 13".
This second Orgrim Doomhammer statue by WETA appears on this list for exactly the same reason as the first - it just looks way too good to ignore. The details on this guy are impeccable, and at $199 (preorder) you can snag him for less than half the price of the Gentle Giant version. He's slightly smaller than the first (but not by much) at 13" x 7.9" x 7.9".
And as far as the shift in canon goes, it's not just the skin color - large parts of Doomhammer's backstory have been rewritten in order to streamline the movie canon, including making him one of the Frostwolves as a second to Durotan instead of being a leader in his own right of the Blackrock clan.
Blizzard wanted to give fans, especially the ones with the deepest knowledge of the lore, an idea what they were getting into... and so they released Warcraft: Durotan: The Official Movie Prequel (available for $7.19 as a mass market paperback).
Told from the perspective of the Orcs in a dying Draenor, Christie Golden (arguably one of the best writers of the existing series of Warcraft books) does her best to draw you into the world of the movie Warcraft, and with no small measure of success.
As one reviewer puts it:
"[A]ll of the true hallmarks of orc society and culture are there: honor, strength, songs honoring fallen heroes, and much more. Most impressive are the callbacks to many of the characters, items, and locations that fans of the MMO/RTS series will recognize. Frostfire Ridge is described in detail, the properties of Fireweed and Starflower are discussed, and the hunting patterns of the legendary Warsong clan are mentioned. It is all quite fun."
Most of the reviews for this book have been favorable, but a number of fans just can't get over the lore changes, so you'll see plenty of poor to mediocre scores for it too.
While Golden's book focused on the movie canon's Horde story, the brand new graphic novel Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood chronicles the backstory from the Alliance's perspective, focusing especially on fleshing out the pasts of future King Llane Wyrnn, brave knight Anduin Lothar, and ambitious mage Medihv.
Unlike the Durotan novel, it doesn't have the benefit of an experienced Warcraft writer at the helm, though Paul Cornell manages to provide excellent characterization and a decent introduction to the backstory so many fans were looking for. It's unfortunate then that critics and fans alike seem largely unimpressed with the pacing, the art style, and the story. Most opinions range from poor to mediocre (although it probably doesn't help the ratings when largest e-tailer Amazon is shipping the books damaged).
This hardcover-only graphic novel can be purchased for $14.99 on Amazon.
Originally retailing at about $24.99, this 4-piece Battle In A Box set is currently on sale as a set for $15.99 from Toys 'R' Us featuring Alliance man Lothar and his Gryphon, and Blackhand from the Horde with his Frost Wolf.
It doesn't really follow game canon all that closely for Lothar to simply have a gryphon at the ready, but most fans will be happy to have these four figures all together at such a price.
Keep in mind that these are the cheap, tiny versions of the toys and quality doesn't appear to have been top-of-mind priority when painting them (faces particularly). Quality-wise, they're certainly not comparable to the collector's editions (or even the action figures), but you can certainly snag a lot of them for a low price.
This list might feel a little Orgrim-heavy, but it simply isn't complete without mentioning that you can have a Doomhammer for your very own - and at an excellent price to boot!
Kids and full-grown adults both (who didn't expect this, though?) have been raving about this particular toy for its sheer usefulness in smashing their foes, various pieces of furniture, and in hammer duels with Thor.
This toy measures 16.1 x 9.5 x 6.0, only weighs 1 pound, and is currently on sale at Toys 'R' Us for $15.99.
Poor Lothar has been criticized right from the get-go for a number of reasons - the actor chosen, his dialogue, the make of his armor, the handle of his sword, but no one can deny that all of the above follow the aesthetic that was always presented in Warcraft armor... just with a little less of the whimsically cartoony style of the games.
The upshot of this is that Lothar's stuff is looking good and Blizzard is capitalizing on his flashy sword and shield in gorgeous-looking replicas (like this replica by WETA) and in pretty high-quality action figures like the one above.
These 6-inch action figure toys are looking good (certainly much better than their mini-fig counterparts!) and the detail on them is impressive considering the price. Lothar is currently on sale for $15.99 from Toys 'R' Us.
Sometimes it really is the littlest things. Both logos took a little tweaking for their official inclusion in the Warcraft movie merch, but it was the Alliance side that really got a bit of a stylistic update.
Fans have known about the style change for a while now - the image above is from the initial reveal at Blizzcon 2015 for upcoming movie merch - and Blizzard has since switched around the shirt design (the new shirts that have appeared in the Blizzard Warcraft movie section of the store are slightly different) but the logo has stayed the same and so has the price tag ($24).
Warcraft: The Beginning isn't WoW, but we never really expected it to be, right? If you're headed out today to see it, keep an eye out for what they kept, and what they've shaken up.
While critic reviews were largely negative, the majority of you-and-me reviewers have plenty of good things to say about it - and the dollars make the final vote. Worldwide the movie's already made $200 million before the release in the US, and opening weekend looks like it's set for takes of $70 million or more.
Think you're going to enjoy this newest re-imagining of over two decades of nerd love? Let us know!