As the pieces of Duncan Jones' (Moon, Source Code) quietly-percolating adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment's wildly popular dark fantasy video games, titled Warcraft for the screen, slowly come together, one question hangs over the project: how does someone go about translating the experience of World of Warcraft into a movie? If new details on the film are accurate, by focusing its plot around the franchise's RTS (Real Time Strategy) entries rather than its namesake MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).
Warcraft's events will reportedly unfold against the backdrop of Orcs & Humans and Tides of Darkness, the first two installments in the beloved series, rather than the looser, more open-air experience of World of Warcraft. Not content simply to slavishly reinterpret the feel of the game for a different medium, Jones apparently plans on going full-bore with the fantasy elements and crafting a legitimate genre film as well as a bona fide video game movie; picture the scope of Lord of the Rings, but with characters like Khadgar, Medivh, and Lothar serving as leads.
If those names mean little to the uninitiated, their mention should excite diehard Warcraft fans, who will recognize them as major figures in the game's universe. Assuming that the information from Bleeding Cool is good, that definitely puts Jones' film right at square one in the age-spanning, sword-and-sorcery clash between humans and orcs; that immediately excludes the presence of story-defining characters from subsequent follow-ups to the original game and its sequel. (To say nothing of the sequel's expansion pack, Beyond the Dark Portal.)
What's clear at this point is that Jones isn't going to make a dumbed-down blockbuster that's totally friendly to mainstream audiences. He's going big, here, and while that's a huge risk with a general public that doesn't frequently turn out for fantasy fare (Rings and Harry Potter aside, among a few other exceptions), the payoff could be equally great. Contemporary fantasy movies rarely receive their due diligence while video game movies are typically seen as a joke, but it sounds like Jones intends on making the best film possible in both traditions, which is nothing if not exciting.
Most of all, it's good to have an idea of the shape Warcraft will take in theaters. The decision to draw on the RTS games for structure makes enormous sense on paper; World of Warcraft might have teamwork-oriented objections and world events that everyone can take part in, but it has an open-ended narrative and lacks a traditional climax, a'la Orcs & Humans, Tides of Darkness, and the hugely successful Reign of Chaos (the game that provides the basis for many of World of Warcraft's quests and adventures). The Comic-Con panel established that the core conflict of the games will remain intact, but now that conflict appears to have its context in the early stages of the orc/human war.
While this almost certainly means no Thrall and no Arthas - two of the most iconic characters in all of Warcraft - it's possible that additional Warcraft pictures could include them in the future - assuming, of course, that Jones rakes it in at the box office and Legendary and Warner Bros. decide to fund sequels.
Of course, it's far too early for any serious sequel talk, given that the first movie doesn't even have a release date, so now all that's left to do is wait for further developments on production. In the meantime, hopefully Jones' direction on the film will change the minds of the skeptical crowd and begin building interest from both gamers and non-gamers alike.
Warcraft begins shooting in 2014, and should arrive in theaters in 2015.
Source: Bleeding Cool