WAR: this is what it’s good for
Duncan Jones on big- screen fantasy epic Warcraft.
garnered serious cult kudos over the last seven years thanks to his science fiction classic Moon, and the twisty time- travel thriller Source Code. But now he’s taking a swerve into fantasy territory with Warcraft – the $ 100 million adaptation of the wildly popular online videogame.
“There’s no reason for videogame films to be as disappointing as they have been,” says Jones, well aware of the litany of terrible movies that have spun out of successful games franchises. “Comic book films have experienced a renaissance, commercially and critically, over the past decade, and there’s no reason why this can’t happen with videogames.”
Jones has a long history with Warcraft, having discovered it when the series first debuted in 1994. “I was constantly travelling around the world when I was younger and spent most of my time with books and games. One of my favourites was The Lost Vikings from Blizzard Entertainment who then developed
Warcraft, which I’ve been playing ever since.”
Being a fan of the franchise brought its own set of challenges, however. “The first was to take this incredible mass of lore that has developed over time and distill it into a screenplay, a single story, which would appeal to both the hardcore fans and to people who have never heard of Warcraft,” says Jones.
Writing the bulk of the film’s shooting script himself, Jones was determined to make this more than just another action movie with two- dimensional villains. “The film is rooted in both sides of the conflict,” says Jones. “Broadly, the human Alliance is represented by Lothar, the commander of the Azeroth military; and Durotan [ is] the main protagonist of the Orc Horde. But there are so many other characters in- between, and it is the family relationships that exist in the film, with the humans and the Orcs, particularly between fathers and sons, that have the most meaning to me now, having recently lost my father and knowing that I’m about to become a father myself.”
Warcraft represents the next step in Jones’s progression as a filmmaker: his first potential big- budget blockbuster. But Jones says his approach hasn’t changed. “I knew the Orcs had to look believable,” says Jones, who enlisted ILM and Weta for this assignment. “Every genre filmmaker today has to rely on some hybrid of digital and practical effects, so we have CG- created Orcs but also amazing physical sets. This is the same hybrid approach I took with Moon, which relied heavily on practical effects, models and miniatures, but not solely, like the scene where GERTY walks through a corridor, which was done digitally.”
There’s no reason for videogame films to be as disappointing as they have been
And what about that sequel? Warcraft is intended as the first in a series, but Jones isn’t ready to return just yet. “I spent three years on this film. I’m going to wait and see what the reaction is like before I even think about a sequel.” He won’t be idle, however. Up next is the long- ingestation Mute, which Jones describes as “an independent sci- fi thriller I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I need to get away from Warcraft for a while!”
Warcraft opens on 3 June.
Either Ryanair’s latest or a man on a big bird.
Shoulder pads: always a necessary fashion accessory.