Friday, February 1, 2013

Duncan Jones and Warcraft

This week it was announced Duncan Jones, English director of Source Code and Moon, would helm the Warcraft movie slated for release in 2015. Everything I have read confirms a live action adaptation, which means it will probably use CGI for the magic, scenery, and action sequences but rely on the actors to drive the film...and the story.

So far, Blizzard has kept the screenplay for Warcraft a secret. There are rumors the tale will unfold somewhere after Warcraft III yet before World of Warcraft, which means Arthas will already be the Lich King and not a hero we watch transform into a villain, assuming he's even mentioned or added at all. Unless shown in flashbacks, if included, we can expect Sylvanas to be Forsaken, Illidan to be trapped in Outland, and Deathwing to be imprisoned. At Blizzcon, if I remember correctly, Chris Metzen told fans the movie would be told from the Alliance's perspective and follow new characters, so I don't know to what extent major characters from lore will play. I'd like to believe the first movie will start with the basics, a tale of Orcs vs. Humans and grow from there.

While I'm hoping for the best, because the Warcraft franchise is near and dear to me and has been a part of my life to some extent since I was in middle school, I remain skeptical. It's nothing against Jones, as I have yet to see Moon--I'm not going to base my opinion of him on Source Code, which I didn't care for but others, including critics, seem to enjoy. What worries me most, more than a wild card director, is fear of the continuing trend of video games adapted into movies being horrible--fantasy and video game movies have a bad record at the box office, and Warcraft will be both.

What gives me hope is Jones seems to be well aware of this trend. Here are two quotes from Jones (2010 and 2011) a forum poster over at the World of Warcraft site dug up:

“I’m hugely jealous of Sam Raimi. I really believe World of Warcraft could be the launch of computer games as good films. And from the little I’ve read of interviews with him the way he’s approaching it makes so much sense. It’s what I was talking about - it’s not worrying about how the game plays, it’s about creating the world of the game and investing the audience in that world.”

"I absolutely think a great video game film can and will be made. The inspiration for a good movie can be just about anything. Take The Social Network for instance; Facebook is hardly an obvious choice for movie material. Really it’s just about finding the key element of drama, an interesting setting, a fascinating character that can lead to an engaging story, and games have a plethora of these. As always, though, it’s all about the script. I think one of the common mistakes that is made in trying to turn video games into movies is to believe that all is required is to tell the story of the game in a linear format. That's not going to do it. You need to isolate and use only those elements that actually work. Only those elements that are original and have dramatic potential... It can be done, and I think there are many games that have great source material, but really it’s going to take a combination of great writer, inspired director, and a franchise owner who is willing to let go enough to allow what needs to be done, to be done."

As I did with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings  and Joss Whedon's Avengers, I'll remain nervous and skeptical up until I start seeing stills and trailers and behind-the-scenes footage that put my mind at ease, because I'd rather keep my expectations moderate rather than buy into the hype as I did with Prometheus and walk out of the theater disappointed. In 2015, I'd like nothing more than to have all my doubts be proven unfounded.


  1. I liked moon a lot. 2001-esque, kevin spacey as a computer, and sam rockwell doing his thang.

  2. I actually got to see Moon last night, finding it to rent on my Xbox, and loved it. Made me a lot more hopeful for the Warcraft movie.