The 'Warcraft' Movie Is a Bad Look on Universal

Is this supposed to be 'Avatar'? 'Tora! Tora! Tora!'? A video game cutscene?

Legendary Pictures

We don’t encourage piracy, but we do encourage movie studios to get with the times. So if you’d like to see the leaked Warcraft footage that premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, we would refer you to Google. It worked fine for us.

If you have seen it and you care about this sort of thing, you’re probably nervous.

It’s not a trailer, it’s footage, but that doesn’t mean it should be such a snoozer. The scene is focused entirely on the orcs because that’s the most intriguing thing about Warcraft: How do the orcs look? Well, they look like they look in a video game. And that would be a compliment — they look good in the game — if this wasn’t a super expensive movie based on a video game. Where’s that money going?

The footage was of course taken on someone’s smartphone in Hall H, making it look shitty enough to make this first impression ugly. The details were fuzzed out, which is unfair to Industrial Light and Maginc, but, even so, the wireframing made it clear that this movie will take place in the Uncanny Valley. Or the next valley over if all goes extremely well from here on out. Comparisons to Avatar will be made — hell, some guy in the leak says it for us already — but that’s not really apt because the point here isn’t to be groundbreaking. The point is to bring popular characters to life and make a movie about, well, war and the craft thereof.

The movie is going to attempt to tell both sides of the fictional conflict between the Alliance (mainly humans) and the Horde (pretty much all orcs). Mid-century war epics like Tora! Tora! Tora! or Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima movies come to mind. So expect humans to be total dicks and the orcs to be largely misunderstood. This is good news in that those sorts of movies often work — and really click when they do — but it puts that much more pressure on the animation. It was hard enough to humanize the Japanese after WWII, and they were humans. Imagine trying to humanize an orc. Now imagine trying to humanize a poorly animated orc. That’s no easy task.

In this case, the man in charge is Duncan Jones, the David Bowie genetic product responsible for the mediocre Source Code and awesome Moon. Jones has generally trafficked in plot twists, but Warcraft looks dead ahead. Hopefully growing up with Ziggy Stardust will give him a better feel for the not-quite-human.