2015 is the third year director Duncan Jones has brought his big-screen adaptation of Warcraft to Comic-Con and he finally had something huge to show. He debuted about a 5 minute trailer from the film that featured a unique blend of CG visuals with intimate character moments and massive action.
It sounded like the footage wouldn’t make it online, so here’s my best description of what I saw.
The skies look dusty with green highlights as a clan of orcs are walking on a desolate, orange plain. Two leaders, Orgrim (Rob Kazinsky) and Durotan (Toby Kebbel), are leading the way. A massive set of gates opens and inside, there are orcs working. Building weapons. Mining. Durotan says “Our planet is dying, we need food and water.” A group of orcs sit around the fire and talk about how they believe in the orc warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), and will follow his lead. Next Durotan and his wife, Draka, are laying on the ground of their hut. The wife has chosen a name for their child, but the father says “I’ll choose a name when I meet him.” She then reveals it’s a son and he’s every excited—a big moment for Warcraft fans, as Durotan’s son grows up to be Thrall, one of the big heroes of the games and eventually World of Warcraft.
We see the aforementioned Gul’dan on a massive cliff with the Dark Portal from the games behind him. “Dead, alive, dead, alive,” he slowly chants. He reveals that a thousand soldiers need a thousand slaves - prisoners, not corpses - as fuel for the Fel. Then what appears to be the souls of these awkward purple humanoids are sucked out, down into Gul’dan’s staff, and then explode out to open the huge green portal and the orcs begin to run through. Durotan tells his wife, “I’ll go first” and she nods. He walks through the portal and she follows. However, when the wife walks through, she apparently gets stuck somewhere. The trailer makes it unclear.
We now see a man flying a gryphon over the city, Stormwind. This is the humans of the Alliance. Montage of shots of the Alliance characters walking in on and around Stormwind, before we go back to the orcs, “We are not powerful enough to defeat them” one says to the other. “We could be,” the other responds. We see the baby orc and Durotan urges his wife, “Whatever happens.” She looks concerned. Then we see the baby Thrall floating down a river.
Dominic Cooper as King Llane Wrynn says “They’re beasts, they should be destroyed. If we do not unite to fight this enemy, we shall perish.”
There’s a shot reminiscent of Braveheart where the Alliance is running from the left side of the frame, it pans right and the orcs are running, and the smash into each other in the middle. That’s followed by a shot of a guy jumping off a cliff and jumping onto a Gryphon.
Then the battle cuts to a shot at an overhead angle like you’d recognize from the video game and you are watching one of the Warcraft strategy games in real life. Cut to title.
Warcraft definitely looks like it’s CG and green screen. These are not real sets. Granted, the humans are real and wearing real costumes, but their homes are all CG too. What that look does is give the whole movie a glossy feel. Think a dirtier, dustier, more muted Avatar. It feels like a video game has been turned into a movie. I think many fans are going to complain that it looks to fake but, come on, how else could this get pulled off? From the footage we really got a sense that Jones did the best visuals technology could do, but made the relationships and characters wholly real and believable. If that stuff works, the story will work and the movie will work.
We’ll find out in June 2016.