Duncan Jones on the Challenges of Making WARCRAFT Enjoyable for Gamers and Non-Gamers

One of the big challenges that director Duncan Jones and Blizzard had to face with Warcraft was adapting a big screen adaptation that would appeal to both fans of the game and general audiences who had never played it before. That’s not an easy task, because if you go too far into the gaming stuff the audiences won’t connect to it in the same way a gamer would. Then again, if they don’t use the stuff from the game, they’ve just alienated their core audience. They had to find a sweet balance between the two, and I think Jones pulled it off brilliantly.

The story and the narrative of the film is completely faithful to the mythology of the game, but it is also had a very human narrative and a fantastic character-driven story. Duncan gave equal weight to both sides of that story. During the press conference that took place last month ,Jones talked about how he bridged the gap between gamers and non-gamers saying:

“I’m a big fan of Pixar. I love the fact that when Pixar makes a movie, they make a movie that works for kids and that it also works for the parents and it works on two completely different levels. What we were trying to do was make a film that works for the fans on one level and we would bring them into a world that felt like home to them. But then also on another level it just felt like this grand brand new fantasy for people who know nothing about Warcraft. And the ideal situation is where people who know the game and love the game and who go to the movie can bring people who know nothing about it and communicate to them through the movie, ‘this is what I loved about Warcraft, this is the reason I spent night after night staying up and being tired when I went to work the next morning, playing this game. It’s because of this world that you’re getting to experience through the movie.’”

Pixar is a great example to follow for telling stories. They always seem to get it right, and the stories they tell rarely have any weak links. I can see that influence in Jones’ film with the way the characters are presented and how the story is told. Ben Schnetzer, who plays Khadgar in the movie, chimed in and said:

“And also, the game is a phenomenon for a reason. The mythology of the canon is so textured and layered and rich. So I think to have the opportunity to tell these stories for more of a main stream medium in film. It was… if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, you know, it’s all there for us and I think the film is a really good entry point into the mythology and the world of the game.” 

The actor who plays Orgrim, Robert Kazinsky, is a huge World of Warcraft fan who has been playing the game for years. As a hardcore fan, he said that he needed the film to be good. He didn’t jump into the project to make a crappy adaptation of something he loves so dearly. He went into make something completely badass! He explained:

“I was terrified because obviously I have a… I needed this film to be good. You know, after 20 years and $10 billion dollars given to Blizzard we deserved a good film. There’s this whole kind of pressure that I’ve upon myself that we would have to deliver something that would be acceptable to me if I were to watch it. I felt that pressure upon myself and then I would go to set and I would see a thousand people that worked on this movie that have given up jobs that paid better, jobs that had a positioning, jobs that some people would go months without work so they could have stayed free just so they could take this job because they were fans, they were passionate about it. And every single one of those people whether it was Duncan all the way down to people like… you’d be amazing by how many people worked on this film who mysteriously actually played the game, all felt that pressure to deliver something that would be, that would represent the hardcore gamer like myself. Then the best way they did that was by telling simply, a great story. You know, we’ve been making movie about Jesus for a long time and he died 2000 years ago, and about ancient Egypt and Cleopatra. A good story’s a good story and this is a great story and by making a great movie about a great story we were servicing the fans like myself. And finally, it wasn’t a film made like you are uncovering what it’s like to play this game. It was a film, it was a great script, great director, great actors making a film. A lot of those other game films have been made to, ‘this is what it’s like to play! Remember when he does this move!’ and it’s like ‘yeah, that’s not what it was like for me to play.’ So you, know, that was the smart thing to do.”

I completely agree with him. Warcraft tells a great story that is set in a fantastical world. I think the reason some people aren't liking the movie is because they can't allow themselves be fully immersed and swept away in the fantasy world that the movie introduces audiences to. It might just be too much for them. I don't know, all I know is that I was swept away in the story that Jones created, and I thought it was awesome.  

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