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Warcraft (Blu-ray)



warcraft-blu-ray-coverStarring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell

Directed by Duncan Jones

Distributed by Universal Pictures

I had actually been avoiding seeing this movie. I’ve been a Warcraft fan since Orcs & Humans. I’ve played all the strategy games through, and even did my time in WoW. My most recent addiction is Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which I comfortably dump at least two hours into daily. Overall, there’s no telling just how much time and money I’ve sunk into the lands of Azeroth (and the Outlands). So this film should be perfect for me, right?

Well, as much as I love the series, I’ve never been a huge fan of the constant World of Warcraft retcon. Back in my day, orcs were green, and everyone was just fine with it. With each new expansion, they kept trying to extend the lore at the expense of the core story. Now we have brown orcs, red orcs, green orcs, space goats, and pandas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we have to take a story about interdimensional orcs fighting an eternal war against mankind seriously. I’m just saying that there’s a long history of messing with the Warcraft lore, and I wasn’t exactly excited to see how they continued that tradition in the film.

But hey, if Universal wants to send me the movie, I’ll watch it. I was aware that this was a telling of the events from the first game, but with the retcon of recent lore. Whatever, as long as there aren’t too many space goats, I’ll be fine.

I’m pleased to say that this is probably the best retelling of the Warcraft lore since Warcraft 3 made The Horde stop being the bad guys. The film had two hours to introduce a world, explain the events of the first game, find a way to include all of the newer plot elements, and still have time to make us care about the characters. And by golly, it seems like Duncan Jones did it.

First off, the visuals in the film are stunning. It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten to the point that CGI characters can look this good. The amount of subtle nuance in these 700 pound monsters is incredible. When you have real actors fighting CGI monsters, it can come off looking really goofy, but that never even crossed my mind while watching. It never feels like real actors interacting with cartoons.

It’s not just the CGI that impressed me. Warcraft really nails the look and feel of the games. This is a world where everything is exaggerated. Shields are the size of people, swords are five feet long, orcs ride on giant wolves, and wizards fling magic all over the place. It’s deliberately cartoony. How they translated that into the real world was magnificent. The oversized trees of Elwynn Forest were immediately recognizable, and the layout of the inn took me right back to the Hillsbrad Foothills. It would be really easy to make it all look just slightly overdone, a little too goofy, but for me it never crossed that threshold.

If I were to pick the weakest part of Warcraft, it would be the uneven characters. There are simply too many people to really care about them all. King Llane in particular felt hollow, as we just didn’t get enough time with him to figure out what kind of a leader he was. I also wish that key characters got more screentime, such as Orgrim Doomhammer. He’s an absolutely massive part of the lore, but was more of Durotan’s sidekick in the film. Other than that, there were some really strong performances by Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar and Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar. Seeing these legendary characters brought to life and done so well was a treat.

The plot also felt rushed in places. When Garona eventually has to do her thing (that I won’t say because it would be a big spoiler), it comes off as random and out of character. To be fair, it was also pretty poorly explained in the game. The worst part was the final fight between Blackhand and Lothar. The whole movie builds up to this epic showdown, and it’s over in two seconds. Did they just run out of money? With a budget of $100 million, I doubt it.

What’s amazing to me was how little I cared about the plot changes. I’m a massive lore nerd, so I’m exactly the kind of person that would get miffed by the slightest alteration. They did change some stuff in Warcraft, but it was all in the service of making the overall film better. Of the things they did change, almost none of it compromised the integrity of the narrative. If you’re going to have to change things to adapt a video game into a film, this is how you do it.

I said almost none of it, because there was one change that really bugged me. This is my paragraph to nerd rage a bit. In the film Warcraft, Anduin Lothar is the one who takes down Blackhand. In the game, it was Orgrim Doomhammer. This is a massive change. In the game, Doomhammer takes down Blackhand to wrest control of The Horde away from Gul’dan and the Shadow Council. It’s a turning point for The Horde, reasserting the warrior rule and purging the corruption from the highest ranks. In the film, they changed it to Lothar because he was grumpy that Blackhand killed his son. It just doesn’t have the same impact. I understand how it was in service of making the film have a more complete arc, but it’s a big change to the integrity of the world.

As a fan, it was great to see this world I’ve spent so much time with come to life. What was even more fun was getting to nerd out about it for the rest of the night to my girlfriend. She’s never played a Warcraft game, and after the movie wanted to know more. It was special for me to see that same spark of interest in her that grew in me all those years ago. There’s something magical about Warcraft, a rich wonder that has drawn so many people in for decades. It’s not a perfect film, but that wonder is alive here.

Speaking of wonder, with all of the great visuals on display, it was almost impossible that the special features wouldn’t be at least interesting. There’s plenty of that here, with an excellent series of vignettes titled “The World of Warcraft on Film.” I’m always a fan of alternate endings and stuff, but really for me the mark of a good special feature is that it helps you appreciate the movie more. I have to say, after watching what exactly it took to bring this all to life, I’m deeply impressed. I had no idea how much I cared about costume design until I learned about the level of detail that went into crafting all of the armor and outfits.

A special feature I liked on a more personal level was “The Fandom of Warcraft.” Honestly, I’m not one to reminisce, but seeing the earnest display of love for a series I used to be so involved in really brought me back. It took me right back to my days in S.T.R.I.K.E., my teenage guild that raided the likes of Icecrown Citadel and Black Temple on the server Coilfang. “The Fandom of Warcraft” didn’t really add to the film, but it was a nice, warm moment that fans like me will surely be able to relate to.

Other than that, we have some pretty stock deleted scenes, a gag reel, and filler. The only really bad feature is the “Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood” motion comic. The voice acting was terrible, and plot total nonsense. It’s supposed to give you some insight into the events leading up to the film, but it really just sucked.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • The Fandom of Warcraft
  • ILM: Behind the Magic of Warcraft
  • Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood Motion Comic
  • The World of Warcraft on Film: Talent, VFX, Stunts, and More
  • Warcraft: The Madame Tussauds Experience
  • Warcraft Teaser 2013
  • Film
  • Special Features
User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)




Who Goes There Podcast: Episode 155 – Veronica



St Paddy’s Day has come and gone and I’ve been “pissed as a fart” for the last 4 days; so please forgive us for the episode being a little late. Veronica is the newest movie to be “too scary to finish” and we’re taking the piss out of the “based of true events” ghost story.

None of this even matters, because on this episode we finally crowned the first ever Who Goes There champion! Tune in for this historical event!

Now I have another reason to hate Christmas; it’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 155!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.


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Prodigy Review – This Kid Is Killer



Starring Richard Neil, Savannah Liles

Written and directed by Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal

From the minds of Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal, Prodigy could have easily debuted as a stage play instead of an intimate sci-fi horror film delivered straight to your television. Told with a confident grasp, the story unfolds in only one location with two characters responsible for carrying the entire narrative. Good performances, sure-handed directing, and a solid script highlighting tense moments make the claustrophobic setting seem much bigger in scope. A little telekinesis thrown in to good effect and a creepy killer kid don’t hurt the momentum either.

Under constant surveillance at a remote black site, an aging psychologist named Fonda (Neil) is tasked with assessing a dangerous young girl called Ellie (Liles), who is highly intelligent and possesses supernatural powers. Fonda attempts to inject some humanity into Ellie, but she is cold and calculating and seems to be toying with him at times and the onlookers watching from behind the glass. The back-and-forth between both characters is competitive and often riveting, with Ellie slowly revealing her abilities to her wide-eyed new audience. Wrapped up in a familiar setup, the decision to study or dissect this meta kid is the central question of Prodigy; but the execution of a simple premise is what keeps the story afloat.

On a very small scale, Haughey and Vidal make the setting feel cinematic with crisp images and smart shot selections that help maintain the tension. There’s a strong backbone in place that allows both actors to bounce off of each other in a well-choreographed mental dance as the dangerous game they’re playing begins to unravel.

Several scenes where Elle demonstrates her powers are the standouts in Prodigy with chairs and tables flying and glass breaking to great effect. These sequences diffuse some of the tension for a moment, only to fully explode late in the film when Elle’s emotions unleash. It’s only then that there has been any kind of breakthrough that could possibly help to save her life.

That gets to the heart of the real question posed in Prodigy: Is an extraordinary life still worth saving if it threatens ordinary lives in the process? Also, does the fact that this potential weapon is housed inside the body and mind of a young, lonely girl make a difference to whether it should survive? These questions and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere.

Prodigy is now available to on iTunes, Amazon, and other On Demand platforms.

  • Prodigy


The questions raised and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere. 

User Rating 0 (0 votes)


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Cold Hell (Die Hölle) Review – Giallo Terror Invades Vienna



Starring Violetta Schurawlow, Tobias Moretti, Sammy Sheik

Written by Martin Ambrosch

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky

I have a serious soft spot in my horror-loving heart for serial killer films. Movies like Seven, The Silence of the Lambs, The Crimson Rivers, and the like draw me in with their cat-and-mouse mentality. Couple those kinds of movies with non-US settings and I’m 100% hooked. So when I was introduced to Die Hölle (aka Cold Hell), which just started streaming on Shudder, I didn’t hesitate to enter this giallo-inspired thriller.

Cold Hell follows Özge Dugruol (Schurawlow), a Turkish taxi driver in Vienna who clearly lives a strained, almost broken life. The fares she picks up verbally abuse her, the Thai boxing gym where she lets go of her anger has banned her after a violent sparring incident, and her family has its own fair share of problems, including infidelity, lack of responsibility, and painful memories of early years.

One night, after coming home from a long shift, Özge opens the window in her bathroom only to see across the way into the home of another woman who is lying on the ground, flayed and burnt, her dead eyes staring at Özge. Stunned into shock, she can only look on before realizing that the man responsible for this woman’s death is standing in the shadows, looking at her. So begins Özge’s journey of terror as this killer makes it his mission to find and end her life.

Cold Hell has an interesting juxtaposition running throughout the film where cinematographer Benedict Neuenfels’ gorgeous visuals are used to highlight the near-squalor and seedy underbelly of Viennese life that Özge lives in. Each scene is bathed in vibrant colors, streetlight reds and neon greens painting the frames. Marius Ruhland, who composed Ruzowitzky’s Academy Award-winning film The Counterfeiters, lends beautiful and thrilling music that knows when to coil up and provide tension before exploding to mirror the chaotic frenzy of the on-screen events.

A direct commentary on religion’s antiquated view of the place and purpose of women, Cold Hell doesn’t shy away from making nearly everyone in this movie a flawed character. People who were unlikable become understandable once the breadth of their circumstances becomes more clear, as is the case with detective Christian Steiner (Moretti), who originally treats Özge with an almost xenophobic attitude only for us to later see that he cares for his dementia-ridden father. While not excusing his previous behaviors, such a revelation gives his irritation and frustration a more justifiable foundation.

When the action strikes, we are treated to breathtaking car chases, blood splashing across the screen, and believable reactions. The characters in this film get hurt and they show it, limping painfully with their cuts and bruises open for the world to see.

The film is certainly not flawless. Some characters feel shoe-horned in and there are rather lengthly segments where the film comes to a crawl. However, the engaging and nuanced performance from Schurawlow easily kept me glued to the screen.

  • Cold Hell


With beautiful music and gorgeous visuals, Cold Hell is an engaging, albeit slow burn, serial killer thriller. This is one film that should not be missed.

User Rating 5 (1 vote)


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