Obviously I knew about the impending existence of this, years ago, but for the love of all that is Source Code, why is this a thing? What must have been ten years ago or so, a colleague of mine somewhat surreptitiously handed me a copy of World of Warcraft and said, in the hushed, guarded tones of a drug pusher with stock to offload at the annual policeman’s ball, “take this, install it and then come back to me.”
I knew about it already of course. I’d heard the stories, I’d read The Daily Mail. I knew about how WoW could suck you in and leave your normal life little more than a dusty husk, an inconvenience. I took the game home, put in on the bookshelf and never so much as opened the box.
Many people didn’t exercise the same caution and at its height, there were tens of millions of regular players (still roughly about seven million at time of writing) across the globe. Doubtless, while the timing in not exactly auspicious for Blizzard, it was inevitable that this, or something like it, would have to appear eventually. Half a dozen years too late, maybe, but nevertheless, here it now is.
Videogame adaptations rarely fare well when it comes to the big screen and the littered corpses of many a good idea in embryo adorn your local multiplex, but here Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) has pulled off a sure-fire winner. Critical appraisal of the film has been varied, with most of the negative reviews only possibly coming from those that have looked at this from a purely blinkered perspective (some may question if these same critics have even seen the film at all, choosing to jump the review queue and second guess the quality). Jones has delivered a gargantuan offering in scale and expectation, a feast of visuals, plotted with political intrigue, surrounding a love story and buckets of action and adventure.
Scored by Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), this could potentially be the franchise-in-waiting that takes up the mantle from Lord of the Rings. Yes, that’s right, I did say that. Underestimate this at your peril. It’s simple and dangerously effective, boasting excellent performances throughout and character arcs that whilst not immediately apparent, will hook you in without you realising. It is technically challenging albeit not emotionally ground-breaking, and the script is not as engaging as it might be/will be next time, but Blizzard/Jones have achieved something to be noted, a mis-step in the philosophy that all videogame adaptations must be dire, ill-conceived and ridiculously optimistic in terms of box office.
Perhaps a little blunt at times and obvious to boot, Warcraft is far from a perfect couple of hours, but it is so far beyond expectations that you are likely to come out of it with immense pleasure at a job well done that you thought would be okay, but not astounding, or taken completely and happily by surprise by the pearl that ended up being for huge audiences that will no doubt take it to their hearts and revel in the thought that more must be coming. I cannot say whether this honours the source material, having never picked up the game to play it, but it is to the films’ credit that it can take the uninitiated, like myself, and deliver a very satisfying all-round cinematic experience. Perhaps we can realistically look forward to Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed now? Fingers crossed.