Earlier this week, I was invited by Blizzard Entertainment to attend a Warcraft media event. This included the Warcraft movie world premiere in Hollywood, California, and a private conference in Irvine for World of Warcraft: Legion, which I’ll go into more detail about in a later article. For the sake of transparency, travel and most other expenses were covered by Blizzard for the duration of the event.
The festivities began just after noon on Monday, June 6, when everyone who was invited to the event piled into a couple of buses to take the trip from Irvine to Hollywood. About an hour later we were corralled into a private room in the Loews Hollywood Hotel. We were wined and dined and socialized with the people we would be with for the next few hours. Of course there was representation from the popular outlets you would expect (IGN, PC Gamer, Curse, Vice, etc.), but Blizzard had also made sure to invite plenty of YouTube “influencers,” cosplayers and smaller fan sites. If nothing else, this was a great environment to relax and network.
I expected the time to pass slowly as I discussed the current state of various Blizzard titles, and the game industry in general, with other writers, but then something magical happened. In the midst of another conversation, which I can’t properly recall, a man by the name of Ben Schulz walked over to my table and introduced himself our group. For those of you who aren’t aware, Ben was the cause of one of the most popular World of Warcraft videos and memes to ever be created, aka “Leeeeeeeeeeerooooy Jenkinnnnns!”
Despite being a World of Warcraft icon, Schulz was one of the most down-to-earth people I met at this entire event. We discussed the “good old days” of early WoW and how the whole “Leeroy” thing got started while trolling players in StarCraft with his friends. One of the interesting things, he noted, was that the initial voice over for the “Leeeeeeeeeeeeeroy…?” achievement and Leeroy Jenkins follower was done by someone else. After feedback from the community, Schulz was asked by Blizzard to re-record the audio, and it was updated in Warlords of Draenor patch 6.2.0.
Although Schulz doesn’t play World of Warcraft anymore, he has become a successful engineer and finds the time for a game of Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm every now and again. Regardless, it was still an amazing experience to meet the man behind the Internet phenomenon and have him be so humble about the whole thing.
After some food, and a few drinks, the next phase of the evening took us to the “Red Carpet,” which was oddly black, in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre. This was probably the most awkward part of the entire event. There were multiple zones sectioned off on the ground level. On both sides of the theater entrance were fans and cosplayers, and the mainstream television media was stationed so that they would get solid footage of the celebrities walking in. However, the gaming media was placed in the middle with barriers between us and the celebrities.
This basically cut us off from all interaction with the cast as they came through, unless they made an effort to walk around the entire set of barriers, which only a couple did, in order to give us a smile or pose. The one celebrity who did really interact with us was Jamie Lee Curtis, and her son Thomas Guest, who was dressed like she had a role in the movie. The main draw, of course, was Leeroy and the two just had to get their picture taken with him.
Although the movie stars didn’t pay us much attention, the cosplayers felt right at home among their people. In addition to the dozens of amateur designs, there were a few outstanding ones showcased by the stars of the cosplay world. Jessica Nigri sported her Deathwing costume, Alicia Marie made a fierce Deathknight, and Lyz Brickley was an excellent Blood Elf Mage.
Finally, after a few hours of standing around on the black carpet, we were hurriedly escorted to the upper section of the theater. Apparently, the start time for the premiere was based on when the entire cast had arrived, despite our timetable, and we were a little further behind schedule than the crew would have liked.
Another detail to note was how there were actually two separate theaters reserved for the showing. The first theater was for the cast and high-profile celebrities while the other was for media and fans. It’s understandable that everyone couldn’t be crammed into a single showing but there was a little piece of me that was disappointed Ben Foster wasn’t somewhere in my immediate vicinity. On a more positive note, however, Duncan Jones did pop into our section to give a nice speech about how this film was made for us (the fans) and he hoped that we would enjoy it.
Now, we already have a fully detailed, spoiler-free review on Warcraft, due to the fact that it released more than a week early in Europe, so I won’t go too deep into my thoughts on the movie. Personally, Warcraft was a fun, entertaining experience but I understand why it isn’t receiving critical acclaim. While there was an insane attention to detail in creating the Orcs, enough to make them feel more alive than simply CGI inserts, the human side of the movie felt flat. There didn’t appear to be much chemistry between the actors, which may have been a scripting problem, and the human attire felt out of place. In an attempt to keep the franchise’s cartoonish aesthetic, we receive Warcraft: Orcs & Cosplayers instead of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
Despite the lack of chemistry on the human side of things, with the exception of Medivh and Khadgar, the fight scenes managed to deliver and the plot stayed relatable enough to please fans. It’s obvious that Warcraft was setup to deliver a sequel and hopefully Jones, or whoever ends up directing it, can learn from this first film and make the next one more cohesive. However, even with the less-than-stellar reviews coming in, Warcraft is already setting records in China so we don’t have to worry about Blizzard losing money on this experiment.
A very big thank you to Blizzard for hosting this event and giving us the fans an opportunity we may never have again.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Event (Real Life), Movie, Warcraft, Warcraft Movie, World of Warcraft