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Warcraft: Review

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First I must confess I am not a big gamer. I am basically still into all the Super Mario games and a couple of 1080 Snowboarding games. I am however, familiar with massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest. Having seen both of these games played I was very eager to see this movie, plus, I love fantasy films.

I was not disappointed.

Warcraft (alternatively known as Warcraft: The Beginning) is a 2016 American action-fantasy film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Jones, Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen. It is based on the Warcraft video game series and novels set in the world of Azeroth. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky and Daniel Wu. The film portrays the initial encounters between the humans and the orcs and takes place in a variety of locations established in the video game series.

Its movies like this that make me love being a nerd! It’s escapist fun like this is why such movies are being made. This movie actually did poorly with the critics and at the Box office. It has a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although 73% of the viewing audience liked it. On Box Office Mojo it did only $47 million domestically on a $160 million budget. However, it made a further $386 million over seas for a grand total of $433 million world wide. That will give the film a profit and hopefully a sequel will not be out of the question. I think the poor performance sadly demonstrates that movies like this do need to reach out beyond their fan base and find a way to appeal to a broader audience.

I think I will eliminate my pros and cons because I didn’t find much about the movie I didn’t like…except for one thing. Although I enjoyed the story and the characters greatly the story was a bit confusing at times and my unfamiliarity with the story/game made it difficult for me to always understand what was going on and who some of these characters were. I’m sure on repeated viewings I will comprehend things better.

I want to conclude this by talking about the CGI in this movie. The Orcs are done with motion capture and while there is a lot of blue screen CGI there are also practical effects woven into the movie. I have heard complaints that the CGI isn’t always that great. I did enjoy the effects and I love movies like this because they do such a great job in creating a fantasy world.

I see many people comparing this to other fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings or Avatar. While I think the CGI is of the same quality, I think the end results are different. That difference is that Warcraft does look like the how the video game it is named after would look like had it come to life. In other words, it still rightfully maintains a look or verisimilitude that exemplifies and represents a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but on a larger life-like scale. In my view the look of the movie is the best of both worlds, life-like fantasy elements married to video game elements and along with an engaging story are the reasons this movie is very enjoyable.

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Top 25 Favorite Science Fiction Movies

For the next 4 weeks on Wednesday I am going to list my top favorite movies from Science Fiction, Monster Movies, Superheroes and Fantasy genres. These are my personal subjective favorites.

It may surprise some readers not to see such well loved and respected movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner on my list, but I really do not care too much for the dystopian style of science fiction movies (with exceptions) and instead prefer a more fun and lighthearted version of science fiction. So here are the movies I like to frequently watch.

25. Demolition Man (1993)

This is a movie that knows when to be serious and when to lighten up. Set in the near future Demolition Man is a fun science fiction action movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. Both are put in a state of suspended animation in the 80s and thawed out decades later. This Rip Van Winkle story has action, adventure, drama and humor. 

24. Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956)

Alien Invasion movies are my favorite from the Science Fiction genre. This is one of the better ones from the 50s when these movies were a symbol of the Cold War.

23. Forbidden Planet (1956)

A classic from the 50s and one that inspired Star Trek. This film deals with psychological themes of power.

22. Starship Troopers (1997)

Many fans of the book complained that the movie wasn’t true to the book. Some say it was better. Either way this movie is roller coaster ride and a heck of a lot of fun. Co-ed showers and a war in space with giant bugs, what more could you want?

21. Total Recall (1990)

“Get your Ass to Mars.” The remake is coming out soon but it doesn’t have the Mars scenario. The remake looks good but the original is a thriller and I love ambiguous nature of the film..

20. I Robot (2004)

Another movie based on a series of books. This movie is based off of books written by the late great Issac Assimov. An enjoyable special effects extravaganza about robots run amok in the future.

19. The Terminator (1984)

The movie that made Arnold a star. This is one of the few movies with a dystopian view of the future that I enjoy. Mainly because at its heart it is more of an action-adventure film.

18. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

I think this movie has a lot of charm. Not a lot of action or special effects, this is s story that is carried by the relationships of the people. Still holds up well today.

17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg brings a sense of wonder to many of his movies. This movie has a sense of suspension and mystery too. A great first time visit for aliens.

16. Terminator 2. Judgment Day (1991)

Not as dark as the first movie but just as engaging. Great special effects and Arnold in classic form.

15. Avatar (2009)

This movie is pure Eye Candy. Giant Blue people living on a strange planet with strange creatures. While the story is not ground breaking the special effects are.

14. Contact (1997)

I miss the great mind of Carl Sagan. This is a good movie based on Sagan’s book, which touches on religious themes and the question “are we alone in the universe?” The fact that the alien Jodie Foster’s character encounters on her journey to Vega appears to her as her father is sentimentally appealing, given the nature of the father-daughter relationship depicted in the film; but in the end disappointing (I wanted a real alien) and the only negative in another wise engaging film.

13. Time Machine (1960)

Other than alien invasion movies, time travel is a fascinating subject in science fiction for me. This movie is a great adaptation of the HG Wells original classic. 

12. War of the Worlds (1953, 2005)

I must admit I like both the original and the sequel equally. Both tell the tale of alien invasions from different points of view and both have great special effects. The special effects of the original still are pretty good today while the special effects in the remake bring a sense of gritty realism. I like the design of the aliens in the newer version.

11. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

An action adventure time travel movie from the TNG crew. The best of their movies. Resistance is Futile!

10.  Independence Day (1996)

In some ways this is a remake or re-imagining of War of the Worlds…or any 50s alien invasion movies. I cannot count the times I have watched this movie. I love the fact that the flying saucers are now 15 miles wide and hell bent on destruction. Also the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously so it is a fun and enjoyable ride.

9. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (1980)

I am a Star Wars fan, but I like Trek better. 🙂 This was a very good sequel to the original and Darth Vader proclaiming he is Luke’s father is ingrained in our cultural consciousness.

8. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

I saw this in the theater in 1977 when I was 13. It still is amazing to this day. It tells a great story and has excellent characters, an Evil Dark lord, a farm boy turned warrior adventurer, a princess, a rouge hero and a wise mentor, all with great eye popping special effects. A true classic. 

7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

I love time travel stories and the Voyage Home delivers and enjoyable lighthearted time travel adventure.

6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

This is a movie Trek fans either love or hate. I love it. Sure it is saggy in the middle but the first part when the crew comes together, the reveal of the refitted Enterprise, Spock walking onto the bridge as if Superman had swooped in to save the day, still gives me goosebumps. The fact that V’ger was a Voyager probe is a nice twist to the story.

5. Jurassic Park 3 (2001)

This one is ..and I know I use the word often…FUN! It doesn’t have the grandiose wonder of the first movie but it does have a lot of great dino action.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

This movie still awes and wows nearly 20years later. The scene where we see the giant Brachiosaurus for this first time still fills me with wonder. The T-Rex crashing through the fence is still pretty amazing. 

3. ET-The Extraterrestrial (1982)

As Dorthy said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” ET proves that adage. As I view ET as a symbol of our lost inner child this movie brings me to tears every time.

2. Star Trek (2009)

I just love this movie. I grew up watching the original Trek in the early 70s as a kid and this movie really captures the wonder and magic I felt back then as I was discovering the Star Trek TV series for the first time. The new actors have captured the essence of the original characters and Leonard Nimoy playing his iconic character Spock once more brought great emotion to the movie. 

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

An all time science fiction classic. Still good nearly 50 years later. I was never into the sequels like the original. The originals stands on its own. There are many themes dealt with in the movie. It is a time travel movie, it is a movie that looks at prejudice and fearing those that are different. It also examines the conflicts between religion and science.