In about a month Duncan Jones’ Warcraft will finally hit the big screen and gamers everywhere are hoping it’s the first great video game movie. Unlike so many that have tried to get the genre right in the past, Warcraft does have a chance of finally adapting a game to the big screen in a faithful way.
Up until now the best video game movie directly based on a franchise was probably the first Mortal Kombat. Everything else was pretty poor, and for the most part the Resident Evil movies are their own thing with only superficial connections to the games. Disney’s Wreck It Ralph really understood the genre, but was an original movie.
One of the reasons so many video game movies failed in the past is because they were made as quick cash-ins on a name. The people behind them really didn’t get what a video game was, and basically went down a press release bullet point list of what the franchise should include. Even the most unadaptable game franchise could become an entertaining movie if it were made by someone deeply familiar with the game. And that’s what Warcraft has going for it.
Before Duncan Jones came aboard, Sam Raimi was involved with the Warcraft movie. People can claim to be a “gamer” in interviews all they want, but what they produce speaks more than interview sound bites. Raimi’s version of World of Warcraft showed that he wasn’t at all familiar with WoW, and that was because in the Raimi version the Orcs were the villains. It’s like Raimi looked at the box of the very first Warcraft game and thought the Orcs were the bad guys.
When Ducan Jones came on, he said the story should be half Alliance and half Horde, showing it from both sides. And that right there shows us that Jones knows what he’s doing when it comes to making a Warcraft movie. In World of Warcraft neither side is really good or bad. There’s great nobility in the Horde, while there can be colossal jerks in the Alliance. Even one of the main stars of the movie was a big WoW player.
In a way you could say that the Warcraft movie is a fan film with a feature film budget. And that’s probably exactly what the video game movie genre needs. Even if it won’t set Rotten Tomatoes on fire with love from the critics, the movie should be faithful enough to earn the love of the fans.