warcraft tv spot

We’re a spoiled bunch, aren’t we?

Allow me to put on my Old Man Hat for a second. Once upon a time, the mere presence of a big budget movie as strange as Warcraft would have been exciting. Before the Lord of the Rings trilogy came along and made high fantasy palatable to the masses, this kind of movie simply wasn’t a thing. Fantasy films of this scope were relics of a brief period in the ’80s. The nerds of the early ’00s were still nursing burns from Dragonheart and that Dungeons & Dragons movie.

So when I watch the new Warcraft TV spot that has just arrived, I try to summon the me of 15 years ago, the me who would have watched footage of orcs battling humans while gryphons soared in the skies overhead with stars in his eyes. Even if the footage doesn’t do it for you, it’s amazing that this film exists in the first place.

Warcraft is, of course, based on Blizzard’s video game universe of the same name, which spawned a series of well-regarded real time strategy games and the hugely influential, still very popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game World of Warcraft. For his film, director Duncan Jones appears to be drawing from both games franchises, taking the gigantic army versus army scope of the RTS games while telling a personal story about a band of heroes in the vein of WoW. That members of both the Alliance and the Horde find equal representation in this footage is a canny and strong decision – why annoy gamers with a strong attachment to one side of the conflict and why throw away the chance to have a movie starring a bunch of hulking monsters?

Here’s that new TV spot:

Like the first trailer that arrived in November, this footage is a mixed bag. On one hand, Jones appears to have gone all-in, filling every frame of this movie with color and character and fantasy nonsense torn straight out a Warcraft Wikia forum. On the other, some of the effects look significantly better than others, with jaw-dropping photorealistic Orcs (created through motion capture performances) standing alongside digital characters and environments that simply don’t look finished. Yet. The film isn’t due out for another five months, so there’s still plenty of time for everyone involved to tinker with these effects. Plus, we wouldn’t bet against Jones, whose first two films, Moon and Source Code, showcase a smart and capable filmmaker whose technical gifts are matched by his ability to tell a damn good story.

For those of you still totally baffled by this entire thing, here’s the official synopsis:

The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.

So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

Warcraft opens on June 10, 2016. Hopefully, those rumors that it’s a “problem movie” were blown way out of proportion.

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