Orcs won't just be sword fodder in the upcoming film adaptation of the Blizzard video game franchise "Warcraft." The snarling green-skinned creatures will be respected just as much as the human characters from the fantasy saga.
"As in the game, where you can choose what side to be on, I thought it was really important that we made a film which allowed you to be on either side of the conflict and follow heroes on both sides," director Duncan Jones told a massive crowd Friday at BlizzCon, a fan-centric celebration of Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Jones was on hand at the Anaheim Convention Center with "Warcraft" visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer to hype the upcoming film from Legendary and Universal Pictures. They were later joined on stage by "True Blood" and "Pacific Rim" actor Rob Kazinsky, who was wielding a replica of the behemoth Doomhammer weapon. Kazinsky is playing the orc warrior Orgrim in the film.
"We're fans," said Kazinsky. "We wanted it to be right. It would absolutely murder me if this thing sucked."
The director, a longtime "World of Warcraft" player who previously created the films "Source Code" and "Moon," was quick to note the "Warcraft" movie will keep the focus on the conflict between orcs and humans, which was depicted in the original "Warcraft" games from the 1990s.
"It's got so many stories," said Jones. "'World of Warcraft' has been going for 10 years, 'Warcraft' itself has been going for 20 years. Our challenge was to drill down and find a story that would work as a single film."
During the panel, Jones announced the cast members and what roles they'll be playing in the film, scheduled for release March 2016
On the human-led Alliance side, "Vikings" star Travis Fimmel will portray protagonist Anduin Lothar; Dominic Cooper has been cast as King Llane Wrynn; Ben Foster will play the mysterious mentor Medivh; and Ben Schnetzer will portray young mage Khadgar.
For the orc-filled Horde, Toby Kebbel will play Frostwolf Clan leader Durotan; Clancy Brown will portray the war chief Blackhand; and Daniel Wu will embody orc ruler Gul'Dan. The performances of the actors portraying orcs will be computer generated.
"Mission: Impossible" actress Paula Patton will portray Garona, an orc who is caught between the Alliance and the Horde. Unlike the other actors portraying members of the snarling orc race, Jones said her performance won't be completely computer generated.
After the presentation, attendees lined up for a seat in a makeshift 600-seat theater equipped with Dolby Atmos technology to watch a trailer for the film, as well as footage that illustrated how special-effects studio Industrial Light and Magic is creating computer-generated orcs with expressive faces.
"We have so many special effects," said Jones. "It's 'Avatar' and 'Lord of the Rings' at the same time."
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