Video game movies don’t exactly have the best track records in Hollywood. While it’s true that there have been more than a handful of financially successful titles, to date there has not been a single one that has received a majority of positive marks from professional critics. There are surely many different theories to explain this - from incorrect interpretations of specific elements, to the talent level of the individuals involved with the various productions - but Warcraft star Robert Kazinsky has a theory of his own to explain why they’ve all been disappointing: the approach towards attempting to jam hours and hours of storytelling into a feature-length narrative.
Back in March of 2014, I joined a small group of other journalists to visit the set of the still-in-production Warcraft film, and it was while sitting down for an interview that Kazinsky revealed his thoughts on the history of the video game movie genre. The actor – who plays the Orc known as Orgrim in the blockbuster – was asked about any specific details from the source material that needed to be tweaked in order to better fit the feature format, and he used the question as a launching point to discuss why it is that we haven’t actually seen a good movie based on a game just yet:
I was thinking about this last night, right? Do you know why I think computer game movies have generally sucked? It's because you put hundreds of hours into playing them and finding a storyline. And it's impossible to put hundreds of hours of story and play time into a two-hour movie. It's actually impossible. With a game, you sympathize with the character because you spend so much time with them and their development, and you learn their story. And you can take your time with that. It's much easier on a TV show to illicit sympathy – you take Breaking Bad, for example. That was a son of a bitch of a character, but over five seasons, you really got to know the guy.
Robert Kazinsky went on to admit that there were, unfortunately, elements of Warcraft that needed to be changed for the movie, and some specific and interesting details had to be skipped over. He lamented that they weren’t able to make something 50 times as long with all of the material, but even admitted to himself that it wouldn’t necessarily be watchable. Said the actor,
I really wish that we could do 100 hours of it and really go into detail. But, the practicality of the movie industry says, ‘Don't do that.’ And I don't think even I would be able to watch that. That's the only thing that I wish we could have is that we're doing the broad, beautiful strokes rather than the fine, intricate details.
The good news is that while the Warcraft film doesn’t include every single little detail featured from the game, Robert Kazinsky still feels as though the film has pulled out what is really essential about the long-running franchise, and is an experience that both gamers and non-gamers alike will be able to appreciate:
I read the whole thing, and it walks this line. It's so perfectly political of how they kind of do it because it's--as a gamer, I was more than happy. As a fan of the game, I read it, and I was like, yeah, well, this is--yeah, there's a few changes and stuff like that. But I can understand and appreciate why they've made those changes to make a better film. And then as a film viewer, you go, well, it's just good! It's good! It's not trying to be story-less.
We’ll find out if Warcraft has what it takes to end the bad streak of video game movies when the film arrives in theaters on June 10, 2016.