Looking at the first trailer for Duncan Jones' Warcraft it is hard to believe this movie really exists. The scope of this thing looks insane - the film looks huge and expensive - but more than that, the aesthetics of the film match the aesthetics of the video game perfectly, meaning this is the most fantastical, almost cartoony live action fantasy movie we have ever seen. Everything from the orcs to the mounts to the weapons to the armor looks like it could have sprung whole from the digital world of Warcraft.
That's already an enormous risk. But what makes Warcraft look even riskier - and way more exciting - is the fact that it has a drama at its center. The footage that Universal showed at San Diego Comic-Con really baffled everybody because it was so dramatic - like it was a big, deep discussion between an orc and his wife about the future of his people - but in the context of this trailer it all makes more sense. But that drama is taking place alongside semi-cartoony beasts and creatures... how will audiences react?
Hopefully well, especially in a particularly vicious election year. The story of enemies coming together for mutual salvation is, frankly, all-too timely right now. I really hope Universal leans on this aspect of it.
And the rest? Man, it looks spectacular. I have a lot of faith in Jones, and I truly respect what he's doing here. This isn't an obvious home run - if the drama doesn't work the action will be hollow, especially considered the sheer amount of CGI - but I believe that Jones can hit the emotional and thematic beats so well that we're gonna forget that we're looking at big CG tusk monsters. I scoffed at Avatar, but I won't make that mistake again - audiences are willing to accept really weird-looking things if the rest of the movie supports it for them.
I really want everybody to take note of what a weird and audacious movie this is. This could have been just another shitty Lord of the Rings knock off, but Duncan Jones and Blizzard managed to sneak something really unique into the studio system. Now to see if they snuck something really good in.