I'm going to preface this by saying that I have a strong bias; I've never played Warcraft or World of Warcraft. I had no idea going into this movie who any of the notable characters are in the series, what the idealogies are, or what any of the big caveats are of the games. It was clear that some knowledge of the universe in which this exists was a prerequisite to seeing this. Lothar...Durotan...Khadgar...Gul'dan... ...I spent the whole movie getting these characters confused, as character development seems to have been left largely in the hands of the game makers, who were far removed from the production of the film it seems.
As much as I can gather, this movie is the preface for where the original Warcraft game picks up. Before there was the war between the Alliance and the Horde, there was the Gate, bridging the two worlds of Draenor and Azeroth, fueled by a dark magic called Fel. The Orcs face extinction, as their home world of Draenor slowly dies, and the races of Azeroth now face the wrath of the Orc Horde as they try to claim a new home using the only form of negotiation they know...War.
This is as much as I've managed to gather about the lore of Warcraft from the film, and...I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there...I didn't like it. But, my reasons are obvious, so let's see if I can be objective about this.
My gripe primarily was with the lack of developing the characters, and establishing lore. This was definitely intended as a movie for existing fans of the Warcraft franchise, that already are firmly rooted in its adage and legend.
This movie wasn't made to bring in a larger fanbase, it was more made to cater to its already established fanbase, in my opinion anyways. And while I'm sure this will make some new fans of the franchise, this is a fan service movie.
The special effects were actually very good. I mean, this is CG dominated movie, so it kind of has to be. I think computer graphics haven't gotten to the point now though that that shouldn't even need to be a call out, but it's still something that means a lot to me. It's attention to detail.
The story, once you can finally get your head around it if you're uninitiated to the tribe, is pretty solid. A tale of multiple betrayals, the fall of a hero, the rise of a villain, and the genesis of a franchise.
The action is decent; magic and swordplay throughout. The biggest sets of armor I have ever seen, huge weapons, and large colorful spells. It's good.
The acting felt a little forced. The guy that played Lothar especially; he was all over the place with rage, macheesmo, and disdain. He couldn't find a tone that suited the character, so role had kind of a bipolar feel to it. And Medivh...could we please find a deific character type that has more ab and less flab? Also, someone that didn't look like they just did a line of coke in the green room. Not making accusations, just stating an opinion.
There was one saving grace on the acting/casting side...