Comic Con: Warcraft announcement and 300: Rise of an Empire panel!
There’s always an unexpected treat or two dished out at Hall H during San Diego Comic-Con, and Warner Bros. had a couple up their sleeve. One, you have probably heard about already: a Superman/Batman film that is planned for 2015. Perhaps overshadowed a bit by that was a teaser for WARCRAFT, Duncan Jones’ film version of the popular game “World of Warcraft.” It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, because it was really very nifty.
The footage shown is essentially a “mood piece” not unlike the GODZILLA teaser from last year’s Con. It rolled without us knowing what we were watching, but as it went on, it became clear. To some of the crowd, anyway.
Running approximately 2-3 minutes, it starts with a man (soldier?) standing in a desert wasteland , ready to fight. Fight who, exactly, we’re not sure, but he looks lean, mean, and ready for anything. After a few moments of waiting, something finally shows up. Something not human; a monster or orc of some kind that we only really see from behind. The two circle each other, with the camera niftily gliding behind the monster in one unbroken shot, until finally they charge at each other. Then cut to black; title card rises: WARCRAFT.
The color palette of the piece reminded me of 300, lots of browns and deep reds. The man also looked a bit like he came out of 300 - in fact I thought it was a teaser for the sequel until it ultimately became clear that it wasn’t. It didn’t quite have the surreal look of 300, however; in fact, it didn’t even really look like green-screen was used, although I’d have to imagine it was. For a short piece, it set the tone and look of the eventual film nicely. Can’t say it appears that WARCRAFT will be cartoony in the least.
Director Duncan Jones came out on stage after the footage rolled, only for a few short minutes. He said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to direct something like WARCRAFT, and that not many filmmakers get to create a world such as this one. He is familiar with the game and used to play it, so he knows how protective people are of the property and is feeling the pressure.
Shooting on WARCRAFT is scheduled to begin in early 2014.
After WARCRAFT, Warner Bros. did indeed bring out 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, which was accompanied by director Noam Murro and stars Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro and Sullivan Stapelton (who is basically the Gerard Butler surrogate). A pretty revealing trailer has already been shown for the film (you can revisit it HERE), but the one shown in Hall H was a bit longer and revealed more about the story.
Based on the footage, it’s clear that the film is part prequel, part side-quel (meaning it takes place around the same time as 300). It opened with a dead Gerard Butler having his head cut off by Xerxes (Santoro), but then went back in time a bit, showing us a young Xerxes before he became the hulking, bald monster we’re familiar with. He actually just looks a lot like Rodrigo Santoro.
It’s obvious that Xerxes wasn’t always a power-mad brute, but an impressionable young man haunted by the death of his father, the Persian king. His transformation is urged on by Artemesia (Eva Green) the king’s naval commander, who “whispers a seed of madness” in Xerxes’ head and sends him to a mysterious cave where he submerges himself in a glowing pool. When he emerges, no inkling of the human man he once was survived.
So we’re getting a bit of an origin story here with Xerxes, but then of course the film is also about the battles and fight sequences, all of which look elaborate and more or less similar to those in 300. Not that that’s a bad thing; if anything, it appears that RISE OF AN EMPIRE is an even more impressive visual feat.
Here are some highlights from the panel:
- In regards to the film’s framework, Murro said it’s like “if you take 300 and you zoom out”; it gives you a whole new scale and scope of the central conflict between the Greeks and the Persians.
- Santoro was enthusiastic to return to the character of Xerxes, and mentioned that bringing some humanity to the character was really interesting.
- Eva Green says Artemesia is the toughest character she’s ever played, calling her fearless and ruthless. “A ruthless Joan of Arc.” She is driven by vengeance and wants to destroy the Greek army, which leads to her urging of Xerxes to become a God.
- Asked if he was comfortable just being hairless and naked most of the time, Santoro immediately responded “Yes!” But it takes discipline, as he can’t eat carbs, chocolate, or anything of the sort.
- Producer-writer Zack Snyder allowed Murro the freedom to do what he wanted; Murro called it the ultimate collaboration. The ilm is still deep in post-production, but they’re almost done.
Because of how much green-screen is used to shoot the film, Murro jokes that he went home after production and immediately threw away anything in his house that was green. (They did build a few sets though, especially a large boat mock-up.)
- Interestingly, when Eva and Rodrigo were shooting scenes together, they weren’t always talking directly to one another - because the Xerxes character is so tall, Eva would actually be addressing a big stick while Rodrigo stood off-screen and delivered his lines.
|Extra Tidbit:||Are you interested in Duncan Jones' WARCRAFT?|