From: al

The latest Empire Magazine (with John Cusack on the cover) – The Fellowship Of The Ring is listed as the number one film in the top twenty “in production”. Text reads:

01 The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowsip Of the Rings

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian Holm, Sir Ian McKellen, Billy Boyd, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler, Brad Dourif, Viggo Mortensen, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Hugo Weaving.

Director: Peter Jackson

What’s it About?: Once upon a time, in a mythical world far, far, away, there was a ring, a very special one. And the rest is simply history…

ETA: Christmas 2001

The Original Episode 1? A childhood world of glorious wonder made real (well, almost, anyway)? Whatever your expectations for Peter Jackson’s upcoming take on J.R.R Tolkien’s epic – sort of a War And Peace of the nether world – tale of elves, orcs and, lest we forget, hobbits, the hype continues to swell at a rate that might make even the hardy Anakin quake. And it’s still, at the very least, more than 18 months away from our shores.

All of which, of course, comes as no great surprise. Even putting to one side the original novel’s quite planetary cult following, the reasons “for” the vast project become ever more apparent.

First off is a cast of simply the finest calibre. Next a director (likewise) who, over 13 years, has effectively flexed his directorial muscle with consistent flair. The sheer, unashamed displays of hedonistic gore – with a caustic moral undertone, mind – of Bad taste (1987), Meet The Feebles (1989), Braindead (1992) and The Frighteners (1996), combined with his assured grasp of the sinister (1994’s Heavenly Creatures) quite possibly render him the perfect directorial choice.

And, at long last, the wonderful world of special effects is also at a stage where it can keep up with the material’s intended pace – neither the woeful animated version (1978), nor the ’80s’ fleeting dalliance with similarly-toned legends of lore (Labyrinth, Willow, Legend et al) possessed the necessary visual clout to come remotely close to the mythical atmosphere required.

Consider also a budget said to be in the region of $190 million – although this is reputedly intended to be apportioned over the course of parts two (The Two towers) and parts three (the Return Of The King) as well – and that the sumptuous scenery of Jackson’s native New Zealand is to act as the backdrop (filming has been underway since October last year), and all of the elements fall nicely into place.

A possible contender for the all-time franchise of franchises? Mr Lucas, the gauntlet is down.