July 21, 2024

The Warcraft Movie And Its Damning Birthright

I learned a fun little nugget of information today. According to Wikipedia, the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating for a game-to-film adaptation goes to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within at 44%. The highest. Rating. Yet.

So, my question is, why does Hollywood despise games so much? There have been over two dozen game adaptations since “Super Mario Bros.” in 1993 (not including ones currently under development, like fucking ANGRY BIRDS — I wish I was joking). That’s twenty-eight chances to take source material that was usually at least marginally well-written, or at least so vague and plotless they could have taken it anywhere they wanted (a la Street Fighter and Dead or Alive).  That’s twenty-eight adaptations that shit the bed.  Still think it’s coincidental?

Hollywood hates video games.  I don’t know why.  Maybe they see them as the enemy; they’re both financially lucrative visual media, so I guess I can sort of see it from a really warped perspective.  But cinema is an inherently passive art.  You sit, and you watch.  It’s up to the cast and crew to engage you.  Conversely, video games are inherently active art (and yes, video games have just as much capacity to be art as films; anyone who tries to tell you differently probably has brain damage or a meth habit, and shouldn’t be trusted).  You are expected from the outset to participate in driving the narrative forward.  Unless you’re playing Mortal Kombat, in which case you are expected to participate in driving your enemy’s jaw through his asshole and watch him inexplicably explode.  So, y’know.  Similar, but with subtle differences.

Now we get to the announcement that Warcraft will be out in 2016.  I’ve mentioned as much to Tony on Facebook, but this movie is doomed by Hollywood’s hatred of game adaptations.  And that really is tragic, because few people know how detailed the history of Azeroth really is.  Anyone who played the original RTS games knows just how intricate the plots were; and even back then there was an entire world history growing behind the scenes.  By the time World of Warcraft released, the world history had blossomed into a massive story of its own.  It’s enough that Battle.net split the story into twenty-seven pages to keep from overwhelming you as you read it.

So, this rich and storied history will be taken and reduced to an hour and a half of “orc smash hoomin wit stick.”  I’ve seen the stills, the movie will look brilliant.  But then, everyone who saw post work from Spirits Within said the same thing.  “It looks beautiful!  This will be amazing!” Aaaaaand, then it wasn’t.  The movie was utterly forgettable.  I no longer play WoW — which is apparently a good thing; seriously, the fucking game has a selfie-cam now — but I still love the story.  I’m going to go to the theater and see this movie with a heavy heart, like watching an old friend get led to the gas chamber.

Well, maybe not an old friend.  A guy you knew from college, maybe.  Fun guy, but owes you like, seven hundred bucks and a LOT of your free time.

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