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Unabasahed, unadulterated and earnest High Fantasy in its purest form
This might be presumptuous of me, but I just couldn't possibly understand how a fan of high fantasy would dislike this movie. It has just everything one might want: wizards, orcs, knights, royalty, grand-scale battles, earnest heroics, despicable villainy, tragedy, fun, you name it.
I loved every cheerful second of it. Every moment landed, the story was easy to follow, the world was properly established, I got invested in the characters and got to know the ones that remained and also some that left. In general I could see the love and care that the crew and cast had while making this movie.
Its main asset is, of course, the visuals. Everything in this movie looks gorgeous; I was specially fond of the spellcasting. I loved everything about how magic was portrayed in this movie. The sound was not far behind and I fell in love with the soundtrack, particularly Medivh's theme, which I still listen on repeat now and again.
The direction was adept, as to be expected from Jones (whose Source Code is just as awesome and I'll check Moon out as soon as I can) and I never got lost nor missed anything that felt important.
The acting was good both for the live-action and motion-capture actors. I thought Fimmel did a pretty good job carrying the movie and he was able to make me believe everything Anduin was feeling. Schnetzer was also deceptively good, and one of the reasons Khadgar ended up being my favorite character. Kebbell did an appropriate work as Durotan and everyone else did ably with what they were given. I'd have wished for more female characters, but for now I think Patton did a decent job, hopefully we get to see more of Taria and more women in possible sequels.
The writing was serviceable and that's enough for me. Except for Khadgar, whose writing I felt was quite good, in part because I think he's the character who was developed the most, and that seeming preference of the writers was another reason he ended up becoming my favorite too (the third reason was because, as a young nerd, he was the most relatable to me). Anyway, like I said, every moment landed (albeit some better than others).
If there's a flaw (and the reason this is 8 and not more) I can accept in this film, it's the editing: the pace was breakneck and some scenes and story lines weren't allowed to flow properly. I'm certain, though, that a Director's (or at least extended) cut will fix this issue, which could also improve the moments I felt didn't land as smoothly. Crossing my fingers.
In general, this was a very satisfying movie, I've watched it more than once and I've enjoyed the hell out of it each time.
Oh, a minor disclaimer: I've never played any of the warcraft games properly (the closest I've come was playing DotA when I was 16) and, thus, the very limited knowledge I had of the lore was from the third game onward; I found out after watching that this movie was mostly an adaptation of the first game, of which I knew nothing. In other words: This review is from a casual viewer, not a prior fan.
What worked and what didn't in this DC Extravaganza
I'm going to start this review by saying that I've only watched three movies by Zack Snyder and I dislike them all:
* Three Hundred is an epic so grandiose and full of macho posturing the entire dialogue might as well be angry grunting.
* Man of Steel seems like a flawed attempt at emulating the illusory realism of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. The end result is a superhero movie that doesn't even try to have fun.
* Sucker Punch is just an all around weird, convoluted mess.
They share many of the same flaws: They seem like self-assured works of art, except that none of them has the depth, resonance or even entertainment value to really earn that pride. So, in the end, they just come across as pretentious and their downtrodden and somber natures ultimately seem like unintentional parodies of grimdark.
All of this is also abundantly apparent in BvS and perhaps even more so than in any of the aforementioned three: It's overlong and more than half its runtime happens at night, it's very gritty, it's violent, it's full of religious imagery that makes no sense more often than not; it's grandiose, with scenes talking about a painting of a scene of Paradise Lost scored with operatic tunes; and, worst of all, it's almost entirely bereft of fun.
Someone should tell Zack Snyder to loosen up: movies don't need to be serious in order to be artistic, and he doesn't need to aim for "high art" when doing superhero movies. Or, better yet, Warner should let him go before the Justice League films get the full Snyder treatment. I do believe that the DC extended universe can still be saved, the ingredients for greatness are all in this movie.
Because, contrary to what I was expecting, I mostly enjoyed BvS or, at least, I enjoyed it more than the aforementioned three and enough to not feel like I regretted paying for the ticket. With that said, the stuff that works does so in spite of Snyder.
Jesse Eisenberg, the new Lex Luthor, is sensational. He's the best part of the movie almost by default, as he seemed to be the only one having fun. He's devious, delightfully deranged, manic, or restrained when he needs to be, sometimes all in the same scene. Due to a stunt in Washington, this version of Lex Luthor automatically becomes the evilest I've seen so far in the Silver Screen and Eisenberg's over-the-top portrayal did make me believe this Luthor could pull that off. He's a joy to watch and a villain I loved to hate. That the most interesting plot lines in the movie all move and resolve thanks to him helps too.
Ben Affleck did a good job as Batman. So much so, it seemed as if the movie was failing him: he deserved better material. Still, there was no moment in the movie in which I did not believe he was the jaded, resentful and brutal Bruce Wayne. If only Warner had told him to direct...
Wonder Woman's introduction was handled reasonably well and her entrance in the final battle is easily the best moment in the movie. It was about time that the most famous superheroine made her debut and, although it'd have been great for it to be in a better movie, this one is not a complete disservice and Gal Gadot did an adequate job both as Diana Prince and as the amazonian warrior. Color me excited for her solo movie next year.
Besides those three, all in all the movie could be reasonably entertaining when the focus was on the action. The final battle was pretty good and I even liked against whom it was, if only because it involved Luthor.
Sadly, when the focus wasn't on the action, the movie went off the rails dramatically. The thing that solves the titular conflict is bound to become a meme and much of the plot is likewise nonsensical and disjointed. Good characters played by good actors were underutilized just to leave time for the shoehorning of what amounts to the trailers of the next solo movies which, in itself, only works to Warner's detriment since it reinforces the split between the much better received (if Rotten Tomatoes is any indicator) TV Shows and the movies.
Still, I do believe that this can become a good franchise if corrective measures are taken. Namely, replace Snyder and reconsider the idea of a shared universe across film and TV. Since they rushed this team-up without properly establishing these characters in other movies anyway, the shows can fulfill that purpose.