World of Warcraft Movie: Done Right

By Leroy James King · May 10, 2010

I’m going to share a nerdy fantasy of mine with you…

It’s my pipe dream as a writer and (fingers crossed) director to make the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise into a series of feature films. The way I have it mapped out in my head, the franchise would consist of 2 films (sticking with the original Terminator format before it got fucked up by Jonathan Mostow – I mean, T3 wasn’t bad… just superfluous. T4 on the other hand… well…)

Anyway, I see it as a 2-parter deal. Now I’m not going to go into my specific story ideas… I mean come on. BUT, for the first film, I definitely see using Apocalypse Now as a story template – a substance addled man on a mission to confront the ultimate evil. Same kind of epic, highly saturated aesthetic, but with a more handheld, off-the-cuff shoot style – same Voice Over guided story. For the second film, it’d be modeled after Citizen Kane – black and white, highly composed, super wide-angled shots – epic set pieces – a story about a downfall.

These are my wet dream visions for the film versions of my most endeared childhood video game experience. They deserve an story a filmic approach that nestles it amongst the most critically acclaimed films based on other media. I want it to rub elbows with Cuckoo’s Nest and No Country for Old Men, by God.

But, alas – it’s become an all-too-common convention that video game movies suck. I mean like really suck. They’re the kinds of movies that either only really little kids want to see, or gothed out nerds, or people like me who take just as much joy in a horrific, terrible, poorly made film just as much as the best films of all time. Thus, it’s a niched market for video game films – their scripts are shitty, the execution is shitty, and their audience is small.

The irony is that video games are starting to generate more revenue than films, so it’s like “how can a video game movie have a niched audience?” My thoughts exactly. It’s because the film industry has large has made these conventions inadvertently. With films like Bloodrayne and the Resident Evil franchise, there’s not any real loyalty to the video games, other than the fact that they basically try to make the movies looklike video games. Other than that, it’s all slapped together – shrink wrapped genre films with formulaic stories and no unique characterization.

So dear farm animals, take your acid right now…

Wouldn’t it be amazing if studios didn’t approach video game films as video games? Wouldn’t it be fucking cool if they actually treated them as source materialand treated the films as adaptations of literature? Because anymore gamers’ Catcher in the Rye is Metal Gear Solid; their The Naked and the Dead is Call of Duty. They respectthe content, stories, and lore within their video games – but studios aren’t. They don’t see video game almost literary works – they seem as child’s play, when they’re not.

Albeit in a longwinded fashion, I’m saying that video game films need to be approached as films. People don’t just want to see a lame carbon copy of the game they’ve played – what’s the point? The movie isn’t interactive, so it’s just a waste of time. No – video game films need to take the lore and the characters further. They need to dig deeper than the task based game. They need to give humanity for the characters. That’s when all gamers will actuallygo to see these films. When the source material is respected.

The only promising video game film I see on the horizon is for World of Warcraft. Sam Raimi, the ingenue that’s brought us the Evil Deadand Spider-Man franchises is slated to direct, and to boot, Oscar-Winning screenwriter Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) is penning the project. WoWis actually getting the quality attention it deserves – real Hollywood players making a real movie. Granted, I’ve never played WoW, never will – but as the one of the most successful and universal video games of all time, it seems like it’s finally hit studio execs that maybethey should actually try to make a video game movie good. The market is there, so fucking go for it.

Some video game haikus:

I press the buttons
But the movie still sucks ass
You ruined my day

Do you even know?
Have you ever played the game?
Quit shitting on me

Think about gamers
They’re smarter than you and me
Stop placating them