It’s no secret game adaptations have been a consistent disappointment on the big screen. Most recently, the gaming community suffered the Ratchet and Clank movie as it joined the list of popular titles to be tarnished by Hollywood.
Since then, Angry Birds has hit our cinemas and it’s a notable improvement on the usual standard of game adaptations. That said, it could never compete with the best of Pixar or even DreamWorks, which it attempts to bump shoulders with. So there’s a sense that the gaming community now places its hope on Warcraft to kick-start a trend of game adaptations worth caring about.
The Warcraft team knows what’s at stake
Warcraft’s director Duncan Jones, who just so happens to be the son of late rock legend David Bowie, knows what’s at stake with this movie. “Warcraft will right the wrongs of game movies,” he told the Guardian back in November. And, aside from the gaming community’s longing for that first decent adaptation, he has the huge World of Warcraft fanbase to please.
Jones is keen to please both fans of the game series and the wider community too.
“In the game you travel from one area to another fairly quickly.” He also told the Guardian in the same interview;
You move from fields of wheat to lush forests and the shift is immediate. We wanted to get across the idea that space is limited.
The cast is taking the film equally as seriously, too, if the words of Paula Patton, who plays the role of Garona, are anything to go by. In a recent feature the actress revealed her dedication to training so she could portray the character as fans of the game know her.
I think it’s so important to be able to feel physically that you can do what your character is able to do. The physical preparation, it was very daunting.
Her dedication and ability to meet the demanding needs of her character have both been praised by director Duncan Jones.
The trailers show Warcraft means business
Fans have caught a few glimpses of what to expect from trailers and short features, which have made it obvious the Warcraft movie means business. It reminds us of the big-budget effort we saw in the Prince of Persia films, but we’ll have to wait a few more days to see if the effort achieves better results.
There are plenty of positive signs ahead of the movie’s release, though. Duncan Jones’ previous major releases, Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011), were critically acclaimed and the director constantly talks up the importance of good storytelling.
The cast is something be excited about, too. Instead of filling the bill with the biggest star names available, it looks like a cast that was chosen on merit and their ability to portray the characters. Paula Patton is already being hyped up as a star asset in the movie and she proved her capabilities in 2009’s Precious. The only thing she’s lacked since is better scripts and characters to continue demonstrating those skills.
Travis Fimmel, who plays Andulin Lothar in Warcraft, also looks like a great choice after his work on Irish-Canadian TV series Vikings. And the list of promising talent continues with Toby Kebball (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Ruth Negga (Preacher) and other prospects joining the bill.
Video game adaptations are still finding their path
As Warcraft shows promise of becoming the first game movie to set the big screen alight it remains painfully obvious the genre’s still finding its path. Live action adaptations have been a consistent failure until now and a disappointing Warcraft would be a major blow. There’s also the Assassin’s Creed movie to come later this year with an equally interesting (albeit more A-list) cast. In many ways, this feels like a defining year for live action game adaptations, whether it be good or bad.
If live action adaptations aren’t the way forward, then perhaps the Angry Birds route of tackling animation is the way to go. Great animation and solid voice acting were sadly let down by a somewhat hollow storyline and average script. It still looks like a step in the right direction, though.
It also vindicates Nintendo’s intentions to produce its own films and the gaming giant has a plethora of titles and characters to call upon. Hopefully there’s room for both live action and animated game adaptations on the big screen, but it feels like progress needs to be made this year. It’s been a long time coming and a slightly painful journey but there’s optimism that 2016 could be the year game moves get serious.