Video game movie adaptations are infamous for being the bane of cinema, but that may change over the forthcoming years. One such project that aims to bring newfound respect and credibility to the genre is Warcraft, based on the game series-turned multi-platform IP (which gave rise to the extremely popular - and lucrative - World of Warcraft massively multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG)) that is co-written and directed by the respected filmmaker Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code).
Near the end of 2013 we learned that the cast will include respected character actors Ben Foster (Lone Survivor) and Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow), in addition to such names like Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) and Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger) - actors with recognizable faces and solid work in smaller films under their belts (see: Precious, The Devil's Double), but who have been somewhat under-served in big-budget titles, making them ideal candidates for a potential franchise-starter like Warcraft.
Cooper, who headlines the upcoming BBC mini-series Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond, spoke with Crave Online about the Warcraft story, claiming that it's not at all fodder for a mindless and/or soulless video game-based fantasy adventure:
“There’s a very human story at the heart of it because there’s a few of us that are humans in it that are up against tribes and problematic issues that exist in the world that we exist in. It’s happening all over the world at the moment and you see it happening all over. People have savaged their own lands and their own environment and they’re having to find a new environment in which to move into through the hostility of others. If there’s something as poignant as that that we can relate to and that we see unfolding in everyday life, then it will make it a worthwhile story.”
The storyline in the Warcraft script by Jones and screenwriter Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond) largely draws its inspiration from the earliest installments in the original game series, depicting a war between humans and orcs in a fantasy setting. As Cooper points out, there are very relevant geopolitical concepts and human issues (ex. tribalism) inherent to that narrative, which thoughtful storytellers like Jones and Levitt are capable of brining out in full in the final version of the screenplay - a.k.a. the movie's theatrical cut.
Cooper is coming off production on another video game movie, Need for Speed, which is based on a vehicle racing game series that is pretty much as straight-forward as they come. However, that movie also features a story co-written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Gatins (Flight), and the amusingly serious trailers seem to suggest there's more substance to the project than flashy action sequences which attracted people like Cooper and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) to the film.
Cooper told Crave Online that the Warcraft script, like the Need for Speed screenplay, offers a different kind of thematic depth, which is necessary for a movie, but not a video game, per se:
“The script. I saw it and I don’t know it as a video game, so you can read what you like about the video game. You can read all those amazing characters on the intricate detail of what the characters are worth and what they can achieve and what they can do, but in this, the story is great. It’s when they make the video games and they think that they can just be sold on the idea and the fact that they are successful video games. What they forget is actually you have an ability to interact with a video game and that’s why they’re so successful. So if you’re going to make a film, the pleasure in a film is to be immersed in the world in a brilliantly, even more beautiful than a video game so there’s got to be something more special about it and that ultimately comes down to storyline and content.”
Indeed, as HBO's Game of Thrones TV series has demonstrated all too well, a richly-realized fantasy setting, engaging story and intelligent social/political commentary are not all mutually-exclusive entities - so why shouldn't Warcraft be able to provide as much, just because the warring races and power struggle portrayed includes non-humans right out of Lord of the Rings? Plus, there are the benefits that come with portraying that world onscreen, via the use of greater production values and big-budget spectacle, as Peter Jackson's Middle-earth blockbusters have demonstrated.
Are you intrigued by Cooper's comments about Warcraft? Do you like the talent involved, both onscreen and behind the scenes?
Warcraft opens in theaters on March 11th, 2016.
Source: Crave Online