Despite the title being rather self explanatory, this definitely requires some explanation, because at first I refused to believe it. Legendary Pictures have been flirting with the idea of adapting the colourful Blizzard Entertainment game to the big screen for a long time. That’s right; we’re talking a World Of Warcraft movie. Originally they had their sights set on Sam Raimi as being the man to helm such an ambitious project, but unfortunately that ship has since sailed due to all of Raimi’s time being consumed by his upcoming project for Disney, Oz: The Great & Powerful starring James Franco as the eponymous and iconic character in an epic prequel. Early previews look very promising and indicate that Raimi would have been a real win for Legendary’s gestating Warcraft picture, however like all good girls they’ve moved on to court a new lover.
Surprisingly, Duncan Jones (original name Zowie Bowie, son of eccentric pop star David) has now taken control of the World Of Warcraft movie ship. This surprises me because Duncan Jones is a very creative and talented independent science fiction director. His feature debut Moon, was an exceptional and complex character study that offered an awful lot of depth, as well as a career making performance from Sam Rockwell. After that he made the less successful, but ambitious Source Code starring a less than stellar Jake Gyllenhaal. Jones is a very smart director and clearly has a keen eye and passion for science fiction cinema (he would have been a great candidate for Star Wars: Episode VII), so it comes as a massive surprise to me to see him take on such an epic fantasy film that will no doubt have many more restrictions than he’s used to as an independent filmmaker.
However, that’s not addressing the elephant in the room. I’ve talked in the past about how bad videogame film adaptations often are, and it’s clear through the hiring of a more risky and independent filmmaker that Legendary are getting serious about the adaptation of the insanely popular MMORPG behemoth. The hiring of Jones could end up winning them over both fans and critics alike. Let’s hope that he’s familiar with the game mythology enough to create a compelling and engaging world, for both the fans and the people who aren’t so familiar with the games. It’s also comforting to see Jones himself recognize the huge odds that are up against him with this very honest and passionate tweet (below). His candid nature is refreshing, so let’s hope he can pull this off. If anyone deserves to, it’s him.
It’s rumoured that the production are looking for Johnny Depp to star, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. If they’re looking to start production quickly, it’s unlikely that Depp will be able to find the time even if he wanted to, with his obligations to Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 starting to ramp up.
Legendary Pictures have been flying the flag for science fiction and high fantasy of late with their other long in development videogame adaptation Mass Effect and Guillermo Del Toro‘s incredibly exciting looking Pacific Rim, which is due out later this year. They also have The Seventh Son due and a promising Godzilla adaptation in the works from visionary director Gareth Edwards. If Legendary Pictures continue on this trend of making large scale, high quality genre films, while also giving smaller, more artistic independent filmmakers a chance then they have my utmost respect.
While it will certainly be challenging for Jones to bring Azeroth (the world in which World Of Warcraft is based) onto the big screen, I’m sure a man of his talents will be able to handle it. It’s an intimidating prospect, for sure, but I have faith in the young filmmaker. Plus, because of the dynamics of the game series being that they are focused on more multiplayer orientated settings, rather than tightly focused single player narratives there are a lot of possibilities and opportunities for expansion. The world itself is ripe for cinematic adaptation, as Blizzard Entertainment have so deftly shown time and time again when they create the compelling cinematic trailers to advertise the games.
When Raimi was still on the project there was a written script by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), which however has now been scrapped and Charles Leavitt has been hired to pen a new version for Jones. He recently wrote The Seventh Son for Legendary so he has a good rapport with the company.
Now, who wants to see Jones cast his dad as an awesome creature? Start the online petitions!