On Friday at BlizzCon, Blizzard’s annual convention, the first trailer for the film based on the company’s long-running Warcraft video game franchise was released. The film is being produced by Blizzard and Legendary Pictures and will be directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code).
Warcraft is not the first film to be based on a video game. The trend started in 1994 with the release of Super Mario Bros. The movie was a total flop. Its current Rotten Tomatoes rating sits at a dismal 16%. The sad thing is that 16% is pretty respectable in comparison to many of the other video game movies. The highest rated video game film released in the U.S. is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and it’s only at 36% a (honorable mention to Mortal Kombat with a whopping 33%). Things have not gone well in the box office for video game films in general.
Why is that? Many gamers will attest that the stories in games are great. Further, a lot of movies are made into awesome games (see the Star Wars games). Game franchises like Mass Effect and Half-Life are filled with exciting stories, action, and character development. But here’s the thing. People making movies are not picking theses types of games. Take Super Mario Bros. for example. Sure, the franchise has a “story.” Overcome great obstacles to rescue Princess Peach. But does that simplicity translate to a good movie? Watch Super Mario Bros. and let me know what you think. To be fair, newer versions of the Mario games do indeed have more story in them, but they weren’t out when the film was made in 1994. In a lot of games, there’s simply not enough content to form a good story without having to write something that may as well completely unrelated to original game.
Where does that leave us with Warcraft? It’s an amazing franchise that has been alive for over 20 years and is ever expanding in lore and scope. The games tell an interesting story and have compelling characters. On top of that, the Warcraft universe has lots of written content in the form of novels and comic books.
So, in contrast to Mario or Prince of Persia, Warcraft actually has the plot content for a movie. However, Warcraft is not using much of that pre-existing content except for a few characters. Is the Warcraft movie falling into the same trap as Super Mario Bros.? Probably not. For one thing, Chris Metzen is in charge of the story. He’s been in writing the story for Warcraft since the first game in 1994. Also, it has a good cast and director. Now, I’m not saying that these factors are going to mean that Warcraft will actually be good. Prince of Persia had a good cast and director as well and look how that turned out. What I do think, is that Warcraft will probably not be as bad as other video game-based films. At the very least, it should be better than Angry Birds the Movie.