What do we know about the Warcraft movie?

Richard Bett at

thumb-WoW-Nexus

Making movies from games is a tricky business. So far, the best that most have been able to aspire to has been utter mediocrity, and there have been many that fail to reach even that distinctively un-lofty goal. Still, if anyone’s going to break the cycle, it might be the colossal gaming juggernaut that is Warcraft. But what do we know at this point?

1: It’s likely going to be a prequel
While early plans were to set the story during the events of the first game, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, this has been advanced to being a prequel to the period World of Warcraft is set in, by about a year or so. This is during the time between the end of Warcraft 3, where everyone had decided to be BFFs, and WoW, where everyone’s doing their best to grief each other.

2: It’s a ‘war movie’, not an adventure
Rather than going the Lord of the Rings route, with a band of merry adventurers go off questing, Warcraft will focus on the wider picture, of the mighty factions of Azeroth once more swinging into position for another massive scrap. This actually means that the movie will likely feel closer to the original Warcraft RTS games, rather than WoW’s concentration on individuals and small parties. And of course this way, the inevitable between Horde and Alliance will be much, much bigger in scale.

3: There will be blood

Don’t be fooled by the chunky cartoon visuals that have characterised the Warcraft games thus far. The movie isn’t going to pull its punches in depicting a world of races at each others’ throats. The action will be intense, and bloody. According to Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s lead writer for the Warcraft series: “We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft.”

4: It’s got Night Elves in it
An early-released piece of concept art shows the home of the Night Elves, the huge city-tree of Teldrassil. It’s a safe bet that at least a part of the story takes place among the purple pointy-eared folk.

5: It’s got Thrall in it...
Being the favoured son of the WoW character roll-call means that Thrall’s appearance is pretty much a dead cert at this point. Thrall, you will recall, is essentially an orcish messiah, having led his people to freedom and a (relatively) civilised life. With the orcs (relatively) de-naughtified in the time the movie is likely to be set, Thrall will be on hand to provide the pretty public face for the Horde.

6: ... but the Alliance are centre stage
According to Blizzard loremaster Chris Metzen in 2007, the hero of the movie will be a “kick-ass human” and an “anti-Thrall”. Of course, the same was said that about Varian Wrynn, and he turned out to be a big ol’ racist Mary Sue type. Metzen went on to say that existing lore would be considered somewhat flexible as regards the new character, so try not to be too upset if someone’s long-lost twin turns up to steal the show.

7: Uwe Boll is not involved
So that’s a relief. Boll is well-known for making absolutely awful films from various games which were probably better off without his involvement, including Dungeon Siege of all things. But after putting himself forward to direct the Warcraft movie he was bluntly told by Blizzard CEO Paul Sams “We will not sell the movie rights, not to you... especially not to you.”

8: Sam Raimi is involved
And he’s directing the movie, no less. Raimi, you may remember, was responsible for directing the three Spider-Man films, so he certainly knows his way around an action sequence. Of course, it also means he’s got a high tolerance for scenes where Toby Maguire has a good old cry. Take that how you will. Reassuringly, Raimi is already a fan of the games, currently questing his second WoW character through Northrend.

9: It’s not going to be ready for a good while yet
Currently all that exists of the Warcraft movie is a picture of Teldrassil and 40-page treatment, an early outline of the story that precedes writing a script. This means that an actual finished film is still yonks away, so don’t go getting too excited yet.

10: It’s kind of a big deal
With a budget upwards of $100 million and readymade audience of 11 million WoW players, the Warcraft movie has a pretty hefty head-start on other films of this type. If nothing else, Blizzard have proved that they don’t do things by halves – every game released by them is delivered with maximum pomp and ceremony, and there’s no reason to suspect the movie will be anything less. The scale of Warcraft’s production – even at this early stage - will easily overshadow all other game movies , and hopefully put to rest their beleaguered underdog status in Hollywood. Well, hopefully.