SDCC: WARCRAFT Footage Wows But Faces A Real Uphill Battle

Will non-nerds let these Orcs into their hearts?

We saw a ton of Warcraft footage at today’s Hall H panel. Not only did Duncan Jones bring a big, five minute-long extended trailer for the film, but each actor that came onstage was introduced with character footage, allowing us to get a pretty good look at what this movie has to offer visually.

And boy, it has a lot to offer. There’s something very interesting going on with Warcraft’s visuals. It’s bright and extremely colorful. Most of what we saw involved motion-captured Orcs, and while CG obviously aided in bringing these characters to life, the way they move (definitely aided by the way they were shot) gives them a feel not unlike old school Jim Henson creatures.

But they’re not just creatures. One of the scenes we saw involved a husband and wife Orc (I will never ever learn their names) who are about to have a baby. As they discuss what they will name it, we can see Jones’ obvious desire to treat them as full, emotional characters. They display love, companionship, anxiety… a full spectrum of emotions in just one little conversation.

What I liked most about Warcraft, and this is just based on what we saw, is that is appears to have a fairly concentrated story despite the many characters we have to keep track of. We saw Orcs trudging through a dying world. Their leader (I assume) sucks the souls out of a gazillion slaves and uses that energy to open a portal to a thriving human world. Of course, the humans are not too happy about being invaded, so there is a war. Pretty simple.

Which is good because everything else looks daunting from the perspective of an outsider. I mentioned difficult character names earlier; that’s just the start of it. While I understood the immediately narrative information the footage provided, almost everything else felt made me feel a bit lost. That will be something the movie has to overcome if it’s going to cross over into a mainstream success. On top of that hurdle, this is about the nerdiest-looking movie I’ve come across in a while. Jones displays a ton of confidence that people will get in line with these Orcs and wizards, but I’m far more suspicious that will actually happen. This isn’t just going after a Lord of the Rings thing. It’s far nerdier than that, like Lord of the Rings mixed with Mortal Kombat or something.

Either way, this is going to be an interesting film, and I’m definitely excited to see more. Jones is really going all-out here, and it definitely looks like he achieved something unique and interesting.