Monday, October 6, 2014

Will the Warcraft movie be good or bad?

    It's interesting that the Warcraft movie has finished filming but, despite my attempts to find out information, it's passed almost completely under the radar of the circles I run in. This could either be good or bad.

    The concept art is gorgeous but that's not, necessarily, a big deal as the original Dungeons and Dragons movie has good concept art. The movie has been delayed until 2016 due to Star Wars Episode VII being released in 2015 but that gives them plenty of time to work on post-production. The fact they think they'd be competing with Star Wars, however mildly, may be optimistic of them but it might be a sign they have faith in their product.

    The premise of the movie is based on the original Warcraft game rather than Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3, or the World of Warcraft. This is troubling because Warcraft didn't exactly have the most nuanced or complex plot. The plot can, literally, be summarized as: A bunch of orcs invade a fantasy kingdom from another dimension via magic portal and wreck stuff.

    The Warcraft Expanded Universe books The Last Guardian, Beyond the Dark Portal, Rise of the Horde, and Tides of Darkness show that this time period can be expanded upon. Indeed, those are some of my favorite Warcraft books. Still, my interest in the series began with Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, which is when the orcs ceased to evil invaders but became just another species trying to survive.

    There's some hints that this is going to be more like the books than the games, however. One of the major characters announced, Durotan, is a complex individual who sets the stage for the Horde making its transformation from hostile invaders into tense allies for the Alliance. Note: I'm probably going to stoned by fans for claiming the two ever become allies.

    The presence of Vikings' Travis Fimmel is also a good sign as I quite like his acting in the titular show. Clancy Brown has been in an amazing number of movies ranging from the absolute garbage to the best of geek culture but always brings his A-game so I'm glad he's going to be present too. I'm going to assume he's playing an orc since he's  fairly large guy and has the right for it.

    The casting of Ben Foster as Medivh is younger than I would have expected with the character but I can't say his description of the character is terribly inspiring:

    "The character in Warcraft that I play is named Medivh. He's a mage, which is essentially a sorcerer," Foster revealed. "He came up in a time protecting an area, and the way he protected this area was through magic. As peace returned to this land he took a break. He hung up his staff, so to speak, or let his guns get dusty. We meet him as his friends are returning asking for his help in a battle."

    Someone should probably tell Ben that he shouldn't start his character description by saying he's a wizard three times over. Then again, the character of Medivh has a rather shocking story arc within the books so maybe he's trying to avoid spoilers. This may be giving them too much credit but the character is a favorite of mine so I'm inclined to be generous.

    I don't have any real commentary on the director, Duncan Jones, but there's been no signs that he's a particularly bad one. One area I'm concerned about with this movie is the small mention of female characters so far. There's Garona the Orc for those who want to see them play a prominent role but it's not until Warcraft 3 that women start taking a big role in the franchise. I was hoping they'd change that.

    I am intrigued by the fact Chris Metzen, Warcraft godfather, has stated the orcs and humans will have roughly equal screen time. Furthermore, that this is a conflict between two tribes with their own heroes rather than just a straight-up conflict between good and evil. That gives me hope the movie will manage to rise, somewhat, over the accusations it's a Lord of the Rings clone. I do hope some of the latter's audience go to it, though, since I'd like to see them get to Warcraft 3's story.

    The presence of Daniel Wu in the cast is interesting and something which makes me hope the cast for the Alliance won't all be lily-white. I'm a big supporter of diversity in fantasy films and there's no reason to make all of the Alliance peoples to be Anglo-Saxon Europeans. He could be playing an orc, however. There's just no way to tell. There's no other major announced non-Caucasians, so I'm not going to be bank on that.

    So, at this point, I'm cautiously optimistic but don't know if this is going to be a sleeper success or a perfectly serviceable but unexceptional fantasy movie. Either is possible but I'm, of course, hoping for the former.

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