Friday, June 21, 2013

I'm In Love with a German Filmstar

Watch this in Full Screen, HD mode. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

Some ideas are SO good you find yourself wishing you'd had them first.

Take 'The Lego Movie' as an example. Anyone who's played any of the Lego Video games will be well aware of the absolutely magnificent cut scenes that accompany the action: full of in-jokes not simply for the relevant title, but to how Lego works: block jokes, building jokes... they're all there. A swift search on You Tube exposes a plethora of Lego trailers for everything from Iron Man 3 to blistering parodies of top shows like Breaking Bad. Those who love the medium embrace it, and what is abundantly apparent when you watch the trailer above is that ethos is firmly and brilliantly reproduced, right down to the tiniest detail. Take a look out for 1980's Spaceman: the decal on his chest has been worn down after hours of play and the bottom of his helmet is broken. That's the kind of thought that tells people like me, at least, that whoever made this film has the franchises' best interests at heart.

I can see you thinking: what has any of this to do with Warcraft?

We all know Duncan Jones is in pre-production to begin filming the Warcraft Movie next year. I reckon he shouldn't be filming it, at least not with 'live action' and recognisable actors in exotic New Zealand locations. I'm not suggesting Lego bricks either (before you ask) but what I now believe absolutely has to happen is game footage. Yes, even an entire movie playing out as if you were watching it on your computer screen.

Movie sucked, concept has promise...

Of course, there's a pretty variable history of movies produced 'like this' based on gaming titles (Final Fantasy anyone?) but if we use the Tintin 'model' as an example, there's the means to bring some huge names to the table whilst retaining the authentic Warcraft 'feel'. Although green screens and action have been around for a while, The Legend of the Unicorn was trailed as the first to fully digitise real people 'into' the characters they played: the actors would wear green jumpsuits and act out their scenes on a green-screen 'set', and the animation would be placed around them in post-production. Let us say this technique was to be utilised for the Warcraft movie: it would allow big names to voice the parts we know so well, but they would still retain the obvious characteristics of Orcs and Humans (and everyone else) thanks to the Blizzard people doing the animation we've come to love from cut scenes. The backgrounds we also know and love from game could remain, but with a new level of detail that only a cinematic release could provide. However, the key to all this, I think, has to be familiarity. This is a very discerning audience, and you have to wonder what would fare better at the box office: an actor dressed up 'pretending' to be an animated character, or the same actor 'made' into a Night Elf: clearly a part of the game experience, but still recognisable as something unique?

One of the key strengths of the Lego franchise is the immersion card: tiny block figures can literally do anything you (or your child's) imagination wishes. The Lego Movie looks as if it's going to cash in on that: where else could you intercut so many pop culture references in the same place (without a mountain of potential lawsuits?) Blizzard has a MASSIVE back catalogue of gaming references to call on, an almost ten-year back-catalogue of memes and songs and in-jokes. It is it's own community, just as Lego is, and I think any potential scriptwriter would be foolish not to at least try and bring some of that back-story to the table. The key to making a successful 'franchise' movie appears to be the ability not simply to capture the essence of the source material, but where that is referenced in a wider context, and how it fits into people's lives. I am sure that Blizzard and Mr Jones are already several steps ahead of the game: they'll have a kickass idea, of that I am certain. Needless to say, I think a lot of filmmakers could learn a great deal from this kid's toy and how it has influenced popular culture over the last twenty years (and quite possibly beyond.) As a tool for sparking creativity it is often unequalled, and it goes to prove that if you don't sweat the small stuff, amazing things can appear as a result.

I'm sure we won't have long to wait before we hear what's in store for the Warcraft movie. To say I'm curious as to what to expect is something of an understatement...

1 comment:

dobablo said...

Lego is a non brand specific brand. Lego can be everything and reference anything because that is exactly what it did when we were kids and played with it. Lego's in-jokes are the in-jokes of society as a whole.

Warcraft is a much smaller subset. To be successful it needs to pull in sizable number of non-players to the audience who wouldn't get the joke without explanation (and then it isn't a joke), and even a large number of players won't of seen a specific game-section or meme.

For those reasons, I think a movie about Warcraft would be cool but a flop. A movie set in the warcraft-verse, using it as a backdrop to tell the story, could be a success.

If using the world as a backdrop, the style becomes a function of the story that is being told.