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Warcraft: why the critics are wrong

Warcraft: movie trailerWarcraft is the latest in a long line of movies based on video games—most of which have ranked somewhere between mildly entertaining and a complete waste of time. But while most critics have placed this film towards the negative end of that spectrum, it has gotten a far more positive response from the general public. On the popular review site Rotten Tomatoes, for example, critics gave the film a paltry twenty-six percent score while, in contrast, eighty-three percent of users have said that they liked it. As Forbes' Eric Kain wrote, "Something's rotten, but I'm not sure it's the film."

Part of that appeal to the public is likely due to the source material— taken primarily from the series of strategy games by the same title and the massively successful World of Warcraft, which peaked at over twelve million monthly subscribers. Though at times a bit rushed and difficult to follow, the film is genuinely entertaining so long as you go into it with the proper expectations.

While Warcraft will not be showing up on any awards lists, it makes an honest and mostly successful effort to tell a genuinely good story with fun characters and epic battles. To that end, the film opens in the dying home world of the Orcs as they prepare to make the journey to the more peaceful realm of Azeroth—home to humans, dwarves, and elves. Their leader, Gul'dan, has used his dark magic to open a portal through which he sends his army to pave the way for the rest of their people.

This invasion is obviously problematic for the races who already call the world home, and the humans lead the charge to protect their lands from those bent on their destruction. Anduin Lothar most often leads the human army into battle, though he benefits from the help of mages and a half-orc/half-human named Garona. Ben Foster's Medivh functions as the mystical guardian of the realm and resident expert on the magic used by the orcs to transverse between realms.

The characters are fairly well-developed, especially considering roughly an hour's worth of material was cut for the theatrical release, and over the course of the film you find yourself genuinely sympathizing with figures on both sides of the war. That sympathy leaves you in an inevitable yet still uncomfortable middle ground by the movie's end. When you understand each side of the conflict, it's difficult to see one side or the other as the villain.

Unfortunately, we often lack that sort of understanding in our own conflicts, which typically results in an oversimplified and unfair characterization of those who don't agree with us. A quick glance at the political climate in America and the gradual disappearance of any sort of middle ground on controversial issues reveals that we often spend far more time attacking those who think differently than we do attempting to understand them.

If we want to find true resolution to difficult issues and the kind of conclusions that arise not from one side claiming victory over the other through numbers but rather through reason, then we have to start with an attempt to truly understand the other party. People rarely believe something strongly without a deeply personal reason for doing so. While that reasoning can absolutely be flawed and incorrect, we aren't going to change it unless we first understand it.

In 1 Timothy, Paul instructs his disciple on the most effective way to approach disagreement within the church at Ephesus. In verse five he makes the very important statement that "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5). He then describes how those who have forgotten to prioritize that sort of love have fallen into wrong belief and sinful practices. Moreover, the Apostle implies that if Timothy is going to win them back to a correct understanding, he must start with that kind of love.

The same is true for us as well. If we want to have any chance of changing the other person's mind and bringing them to a right understanding, then the first and most important emotion we feel towards those who disagree with us has to be a love that emanates from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.

That means, however, that our view of the other person ultimately has nothing to do with them. Rather, it is based solely our relationship with the Father and the love he has for them as his child. Such love inevitably leads to the kind of sympathy and understanding that will allow us to address issues and disagreements in a healthy and productive manner.

That kind of love is often lacking in our culture, so when we exemplify it, God's light shines all the brighter. So whatever conflicts and disagreements arise in your life today, make it a point to start that dialogue with love, empathy, and the desire to truly understand the other person. That's the only way real and lasting change can come about.

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