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The Warcraft Movie: Not Just a Video Game Movie

 

Yesterday was a good day for movie trailers. While there is much excitement over the international Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer (and rightfully so), my fangirl squee has been reserved for the full Warcraft trailer. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this ever since the movie was announced, and it did not disappoint. Well, okay, if I’m being honest, maybe it did a little. For some reason, the voices sound… off to me. Travis Fimmel basically sounds like he’s come right off the set of Vikings, and the modulation on the voices of the Orcs seems a little much. Maybe I’m just in a weird mood today, I don’t know… but it threw me more than I was expecting. Visually however, it is absolutely stunning.

Whenever I talk about being excited for Warcraft, one of the first questions that people invariably ask me, is “do you play?,” and they seem surprised when I answer “no,” (I mean, sure, I played Warcraft I and II back in the day, but they, like most of high school, are nothing but distant memories). So the natural follow up question to that answer is, “why are you excited about a video game movie when you don’t play the video game?,” And I have an answer for that.

See, I’m a child of the 80’s. I basically grew up on fantasy movies and I miss them. I miss them a lot. The only real high[1] fantasy movies that we’ve had recently have been set in Middle Earth – and I can’t wait to see something from someone other than Peter Jackson. I don’t think of Warcraft as being a video game movie, I think of it as being the start of what could be an epic fantasy movie franchise. And that is why it is important that it do well – so we can have more. We’re currently in an era of superhero films, and while I absolutely enjoy those movies wholeheartedly, I want creatures again; I want to see worlds other than our own. I want to once again let my imagination run wild, to see a movie where anything is possible.

Legend

See this? I miss this.

 

The problem with most fantasy movies set in our own world is that there is still a nationalistic theme that runs through them (i.e., the Avengers are very much American) rather than dealing with larger issues that affect humanity as a whole. In contrast, the benefit of fantasy movies is that you don’t associate characters as being American, or British, or Russian. Instead, they are simply… human (or Orc, as the case may be). That means that the story can focus on issues that are central to everyone on the planet, regardless of where one grew up. They are often used as metaphors that in turn can help us deal with the complexities of reality. In many ways, fantasy movies instill a sense of hope – that when the odds are against us, heroes can still stand up and do the right thing. That we can choose to be better[2]. Fantasy also differs greatly from science fiction works, in that science fiction is grounded in reality. Science fiction, in essence, could happen, and is often used as a commentary on where our society is headed (which is why we are overburdened with dystopic science fiction at the moment). Science fiction often hits far too close to home.

Why is fantasy important? Fantasy is an escape. Fantasy takes us away from our world and our troubles and puts us somewhere else. It awakens our sense of wonder and magic and brings us back to the way we felt when we were kids, when our imaginations had no limits. Fantasy movies are filled with whimsy, a grown up version of kids pretending that a cardboard box is a giant castle.

So don’t look at Warcraft as a video game movie. It’s a fantasy movie, pure and simple. And THAT is why this movie needs to do well. So we can have more. Not just more Warcraft; but more opportunities to play make-believe. Even just for a few hours.

 

 

[1] I consider high fantasy to be anything set in another world. The Harry Potter franchise would be an example of middle fantasy – fantastic elements, but still set in our own “reality.”

[2] I have to be careful here, or else this is going to turn into a rant about how we need Star Trek back on the air. Which is finally happening.

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