We've spent the last few days putting together some puzzle pieces and working out just what's going on with Duncan Jones' Warcraft movie. This time last week, my only impressions of what the film might entail had come from a "tone trailer" screened at San Diego Comic-Con, the games themselves and an appreciation of Jones' previous work.
Now, though, an image has come together of where the project is headed and it looks like Jones is planning a full-blooded fantasy movie, as much like John Millius' Conan as The Lord of the Rings. This is definitely proper Sword and Sorcery stuff.
I've come to understand that the film's story is not an adaptation of World of Warcraft, and instead takes place around the events of the first couple of Warcraft games, 'real time strategy' classics of the mid-90s. If nothing else, this will leave room for a series of subsequent films adapting the ongoing in-game narrative.
The lead character seems set to be Khadgar, a young consul to the Kirin Tor senate, rulers of the city of Dalaran. Early in the story, Khadgar is charged with investigating a series of crimes that have rocked the city, but as we go on, we'll find that his mission leads him into a quest beyond the city walls.
Then there's his mentor, Medivh, a mage and the sworn protector of mankind against demonkind. Johnny Depp was rumoured for a role almost as soon as the film was announced, and while I can't find any substance to those rumours, at least not right now, I'm sure this would be the part he was up for. Not quite Gandalf meets Captain Jack Sparrow, he's actually a more morally complex character than will be at first revealed. Expect him to be a scene stealer, too.
And set on a collision course with Medivh is Lothar, The Lion of Azeroth, leader of the King's Army. He's brave but maybe a touch too bold. In a straight down the middle version of the film, this might be the role The "Dwayne Johnson" Rock would go up for, though I'm imagining somebody like Mark Strong could carry just the right amount of pride and gravity.
And then there are the King and his Lady too, playing key supporting roles. Expect to see some well-loved actors in these parts.
I've got less of an idea of the specific Orc characters involved, but there's definitely plenty of them, and I know that their story will be intimately entwined with that of Medivh. We can also expect to see dwarves, trolls, elves, revenants and wraiths.
The impression I've picked up, from a few sources and the information I've been passed, is that this project makes no concessions to tidy mainstreaming, or chewing the gristle out of its meaty, raw fantasy ideas. The names are big and a spellcheck unfriendly, there will be mythical creatures all over the place, the magic will flow and so will the talk of prophecies and ancient artefacts.
Jones promised at San Diego that production on Warcraft will start early next year, which makes a 2015 release date look good.
I'm sure that concept art is being developed right now, which means that an awful lot of artists will be having the time of their lives. I can't wait to see what they're coming up with.
Much, much more on Warcraft over the coming months and years, I'm sure.