All is not well in Azeroth. Fans of Blizzard Entertainment’s “Warcraft” games and wildly popular MMORPG “World of Warcraft” know the struggle between the humans and orcs, as well as other familiar fantasy characters like the elves, gnomes and trolls that inhabit the world. That struggle also seeped into reality as the “Warcraft” movie, first announced in 2006, finally sees the light of day in 2016.
The film’s story revolves around the orcs leaving their dying home to find a new place to hang their armor and weaponry, and they have their sights set on peaceful Azeroth. The humans, led by King Llane (Dominic Cooper), have to defend their home and take a stand against seemingly impossible odds.
“Warcraft,” debuting June 10, is a story rife with conflict. The clash between orc (Horde) and human (Alliance) armies is the most obvious fight, but allegiances within each faction are also on shaky ground. The film’s large and splashy action sequences are a sight to behold, but director Duncan Jones and the cast also discussed the importance of the adaptation’s more intimate moments during Legendary Pictures’ press conference for the film.
According to Toby Kebbell, who plays orc chieftain Durotan, those smaller moments weren’t reserved solely for the film’s human characters. “We got to do all of these quieter scenes that normally would just be for the humans, but we got to do it on both sides,” said the actor. “I think it totally gave us something special.”
While beastly orcs discussing family matters help to ground the plot, “Warcraft” is first and foremost a sweeping fantasy epic. Shooting in New Zealand means comparisons to “Lord of the Rings,” something Duncan Jones didn’t shy away from.”‘Lord of the Rings’ really set the bar as for what a fantasy film should be. And like I said, I think fantasy has a much smaller set of films that are really the things you aspire to make when you make a fantasy film,” said Jones. “We wanted to find a way to do it differently and give you a bit of a rival [to ‘Lord of the Rings’]. We just wanted to create a spectacle and give it an energy that was different but hopefully achieved the same level of success.”
Despite war being an integral part of the film, making the movie was truly a team effort. “When you make a movie like this, it’s all about collaboration and bringing people together with different skills,” said Jones. “When I was starting out doing really bad, cheap music videos and commercials, one of the reasons I was able to move on and make better thing was I got to work with people who all had their independent skills and learned from them.”
Production on “Warcraft,” which began in early 2014, was long and arduous. The adaptation blends live-action, motion capture, practical FX and makeup, and CGI into one cohesive whole. Paula Patton, who plays the half-orc/half-human Garona, talked about the importance of everything coming together. “I was afraid. I didn’t know how I was going to fully become this half-human. Part of it is what you do mentally to prepare, but then it became the collaborative effort of costumes and makeup and hair, all with Duncan’s vision,” she said.
Kebbell shared similar sentiments while discussing Durotan’s relationships with his wife and subjects. “Without the other orcs — you don’t walk in as the king. You need your co-stars to give you that feeling,” he said. “Without everyone doing that — that’s the collaboration that happened on this set. It really was close-knit. We were very close. I had great support from great actors.”
Long-time “Warcraft” fan Rob Kazinsky plays Ogrim, Durotan’s second in command, and jumped in to add that his close collaboration with Kebbell started on an airplane. “I was so excited to be a part of this film and obviously I knew every character. I’m on the plane on the way out to Vancouver, and I see Toby Kebbell two seats ahead of me. I go over, tap him on the shoulder, and I’m like, ‘Hi, mate. I’m your Orgrim.’ And he looked at me like, ‘What?'” Kazinsky joked that he would have done anything from killing puppies to paying Legendary in order to be part of the movie.
Unlike Kazinsky, most of the cast was less than familiar with the game prior to auditioning for their roles. This turned out not to be an issue as Jones was cognizant of the need to make the movie accessible to non-gamers. “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 also works for the parents, and it works on two completely different levels,” said the director. “What we were trying to do was make a film that works for the fans on one level and where 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 new fantasy for people who knew nothing about “Warcraft.’
“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,” Jones continued. “‘This is what I loved about ‘Warcraft.’ This is the reason I spent night after night staying up playing this game. It’s because of this world you’re getting to experience through the movie.'”
“Warcraft” arrives in theaters June 10.
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