It's no secret that the #Warcraft film didn't quite meet expectations. It was a critical and commercial failure outside of China, despite having an ace director, stellar special effects and a passionate fan base loyal to the source material. However, I think we can also agree that the Warcraft film was hardly the worst video game adaptation out there; it was one of the better ones and was honestly totally watchable.
So, when director #DuncanJones (Moon, Source Code) says that he would love the sequel to happen, I say go for it, but only if the filmmakers try something different and avoid repeating the same mistakes they did last time. Here are a few things Jones and Legendary Studios should bear in mind should Warcraft 2 be greenlit.
5. The Run Time
One of the main problems with the first Warcraft film was that it was just too short. Imagine cramming the first season of Game of Thrones into a two-hour feature. Yeah, it wouldn't work. Same thing happened to Warcraft — it was two hours when it should have been three with the hope of six more hours to tell its story. By at least delivering a lengthier run time, the filmmakers will have time to flesh out the world and the characters while pacing events, preventing the sensation of "running to the finish line." The first film suffered when it decided to rush through so much information that everything became muddled and unfocused; it should've had the time to collect itself and expand on its mythology, history and characters.
4. The Characters
When motion-capture orcs are more interesting than the human leads, your movie is in trouble. A universal criticism of the film was that the human characters in the film were bland and unoriginal, whereas the hulking orcs from a far off land had more depth and development, thus making their half of the story much more interesting. The next film has to make the human faction infinitely more compelling. If that means recasting half the cast or changing the POV character then by all means, do it.
The only character that should remain a focus of the films going forward is Paula Patton's half-human, as she is both the bridge between both worlds and the last remaining character that offers the most growth. Travis Fimmel is a talented actor, as evident on the show Vikings, but couldn't carry the film to make me care enough to be invested in his manufactured plot line. Couple that with the over-the-top mages (ugh, the mages) and an uninspired king, and the humans became the last thing I was interested in.
The filmmakers have to make the audience care about both sides of the war if they want it to succeed. In order to do that with as little baggage as possible (and due to the events of the first movie), the film should cast a new lead. Travis Fimmel, should he be inclined to return, can indeed return as a supporting character (perhaps he's gone rogue in the wild and the new lead needs his help), but having Fimmel front and center would only remind fans of the first film. Considering half of the characters died at the end of that film, fresh faces would feel entirely natural.
3. More Practical Sets
The Warcraft film had some amazing CGI, there is no disputing that. Toby Kebbell's transformation into the orc lead Durotan was jaw dropping and I quickly forgot his character was a computer-based image. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the backgrounds. I know there were practical sets on the film and they looked great, but they were almost all relegated to interior designs. Outdoor shots were too obviously CGI. The film should opt for less CGI backgrounds less time and opt for on-location filming, adding CGI in post production to enhance what is already shot. This allows the production to film in exotic locations and add that extra something not seen in our reality to the screen, creating a tangibility for both the audience and the actors. It worked for Lord of the Rings, it's working for Game of Thrones, it can work for Warcraft.
2. The Villain
I'll be the first to admit I know nothing about Warcraft lore. I never played any of the games, but one thing I've heard time and time again from friends and general headlines from video game websites is the appeal of the Lich King. The film should definitely make use of this character and possibly make his treat a two-movie ordeal, where the second film goes full Empire Strikes Back and potentially kills off a major character. It would prove a more intimate and personal villain over a deranged shaman opening a portal. Portals are so 2012, guys.
The Lich King not only has a great design but has a great backstory and appears to be a plausible threat to the realm of humans. Make the villain's threat personal as oppose to "we got to destroy the world again." Seeking revenge against one of the leads would prove to be a more engaging story.
1. Expand The World
The Lord of the Rings films just did an excellent job of making Middle-earth feel real. As someone who doesn't play the Warcraft game series, I can't tell you a single place that was shown on screen. I don't know anything about the politics of this world, who lives where, what is out there in the greater land. Nothing felt lived in, therefore I didn't care what the green orcs did to the place. Gamers may get it but it's the job of the filmmakers to inform all audience members as to the ins and outs of the world.
Make me care about what happens to the land as much as what happens to the characters (and make me care about the characters). The only way to do that is to take me there and immerse me into it. Bring me to the streets and show me the citizens and the settlements. That way, when their state of being is ultimately threatened, I want our heroes to find a way to save them. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the film with the most variety of locations visited by Frodo and his compatriots, you get a sense that each place has been lived in or has had something happen to it, even if that place has no people in sight.