Ever since Blizzard Entertainment’s RTS game “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans” debuted on November 23rd, 1994, followed by two expansions and the wildly successful MMORPG “World of Warcraft,” millions of gamers worldwide have been swept up by the epic clash of civilizations between the Alliance and Horde as they fight for domination of the planet Azeroth. Now Blizzard has teamed up with Legendary Pictures to bring the heroes and villains of Azeroth to life in the movie “Warcraft,” due in 2016.
WoW game designer Chris Metzen has said that Blizzard wanted to do a Warcraft movie for a long time, but the right script and the right director never came along until recently. It was important to have a script that not only captured the sweeping conflict between Alliance and Horde, but was accessible to the casual moviegoer and made them care about characters WoW players already know and love — or love to hate. Finding the right director was crucial. It was not enough to hire a director who knew how to blow things up and film massive battles. It wasn’t even enough to get a director who loved fantasy; they wanted a director who knew and loved the source material, who understood the conflict not only between the Alliance and Horde but between the individuals within those factions. The director had to be a fan, and after their first meeting with Duncan Jones, currently best known for his brilliant 2009 film “Moon,” Blizzard knew Azeroth would be in good hands.
Jones — the son of musician David Bowie, who has dipped his toe into the waters of fantasy a time or three himself — is a long time WoW gamer with a true affection for the story and characters. His overall vision was to embrace the fantasy while grounding it in gritty realism. Everything, from the soaring magical spires of Dalaran to the rivulets of blood and sweat trickling down a warrior’s dirtied face, had to feel real. Most of all, the actors had to bring multi-dimensional characters to life. Jones understood what other directors might not: a vast part of WoW’s appeal is that it turns old fantasy tropes on their head. The orcs of the Horde are not Tolkien’s inherently malevolent monsters. They are shamanistic clans struggling to survive on a dying world. Some are noble and honorable, others are savage and cruel, but in the end they all seek the survival of their people, and the conflict within the Horde is whether that survival comes by conquering the natives of Azeroth, or learning to live with them.
“Warcraft” the movie is an origin story, hearkening back to the first meeting of orcs and humans and laying the foundation for sequels. Jones has an exceptional cast at his disposal, featuring Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar and Toby Kebbel as Durotan. In 2015 the movie trailer, featured here at https://www.youtube.com/watch v RhFMIRuHAL4, debuted at BlizzCon to roaring fan approval. Only time will tell if the “Warcraft” movie can enthrall non-gamers and casual moviegoers, but for fans of WoW, June 10, 2016 cannot come fast enough.
See you in Azeroth!