This weekend was Blizzcon, the big convention for Blizzard games - most especially the eternal MMORPG World of Warcraft. Duncan Jones, who is directing the upcoming World of Warcraft movie, came to a panel and shared some concept art and revealed some neat details about his film.
The neatest detail came from special effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, who is actually a WoW player (he's been playing since 2004 and has a level 90 character): the orcs will be actors in prosthetics. At Comic Con this year Jones brought a proof of concept trailer that had a CGI orc in it, and it looked good... but thankfully the film will actually have practical people playing practical characters.
Speaking of orcs, Jones made sure that they were represented in the script. When he first got the script it was heavily leaning on Alliance and human characters. He changed that immediately. "It's about both sides. It's going to be red and blue," he said, something sure to make the many, many Horde players happy.
I guess I should try and explain what all this means right now, since most of you are likely confused. World of Warcraft is set in a fantasy world that is divided between two main faction: the Alliance and the Horde. The Alliance is made up of your usual fantasy hero types - humans, dwarves, high elves and gnomes. They're boring. The Horde, however, is made up of cool looking monster types like trolls, minotaurs, the undead and, most of all, orcs. What makes WoW fun is that you can play a race from either side of the divide, and you can battle players who are on the other team. I'm a sporadic WoW player, with a high level Undead warrior as my main character. For the Horde forever!
Geeking out aside, what Jones has done is smart because it allows World of Warcraft to feel very different from other fantasy movies. The monsters will be on the main hero team, working - begrudgingly, one assumes - with the pretty characters.
According to Jones the movie will use lore from the original Warcraft real time strategy games, The game characters Anduin Lothar and Durotan (human and orc respectively) see that war is coming and they must do something or other for their people. Details are thin. Both of those characters are long dead in the timeline of World of Warcraft, which gives us a sense of when the story will be taking place in the gameworld's history.
Jones dropped one neat note on Twitter: he did not go to Blizzcon knowing what the Bechdel Test was, but he says that his script will pass it with flying colors.
One last detail that I liked: World of Warcraft is known for its stylized look, and that includes characters wielding weapons that are rather unwieldy looking. Expect that to come through in the film, says Westenhofer: "The swords that are being built are the biggest swords a human being can wield."