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Archive for November, 2006

Join us for our LOTR EE Trilogy Marathon, this Saturday!

All the other Movie Chats we’ve done before were just rehearsals for this one, the big one, the one you never thought we’d have the stamina to try: Yes, the LOTR EE TRILOGY MARATHON!

That’s right, we will be chatting our way through 11 hours of non-stop Tolkien action. (Don’t worry, we’ll take breaks!) Join us in TORn’s chat room on Saturday, December 2 at 11 a.m. EST and see if you have what it takes to chat through Peter Jackson’s three-film masterpiece, “The Lord of the Rings.” [Details]

Posted in Old Main News

Join us for our LOTR EE Trilogy Marathon

All the other Movie Chats we’ve done before were just rehearsals for this one, the big one, the one you never thought we’d have the stamina to try: Yes, the LOTR EE TRILOGY MARATHON!

That’s right, we will be chatting our way through 11 hours of non-stop Tolkien action. (Don’t worry, we’ll take breaks!)

Join us in TORn’s chat room on Saturday, December 2 at 11 a.m. EST and see if you have what it takes to chat through Peter Jackson’s three-film masterpiece, “The Lord of the Rings.” (See below for the approximate scheduled time of each film)

P.S. Make sure you have plenty of water, snacks and sustenance on hand! You’ll need the energy!

THE DETAILS

When: Saturday, December 2

Where: On TORn’s IRC server, in the #moviechat channel. After joining the server, type /join #moviechat to get there.

If you’ve never been to TORn’s IRC server before, you can join through our java applet and type /join #moviechat once you’re signed in. We recommend you visit our FAQ for some guidelines on using our IRC service. Barliman’s is a place for good conversation about JRR Tolkien’s works. We welcome you to our community and ask that you, and all guests, abide by some simple guidelines.

How:
1) Have your DVDs readily available, with the first disc of FOTR in your player and set to the main menu.
2) Sign on to the IRC server, it’s easy! (see directions above)
3) It’s best to arrive early, but if you’re late, don’t worry — we periodically announce the time-marker that everyone should be near. Plus, we take breaks midway and at the end of each film.
4) Once everyone is ready, the Op (those people with the @ in front of their name) will start a count-down. When they type “play,” we all press PLAY, and we’re off! Pretty simple, eh?

Why: Because it will be fun! And exhausting! But fun!

THE SCHEDULE
(All times are approximate. We hope to stay on schedule!)

Below are the run-times for each film, our projected starting time, and links to how you can determine the time in your own time zone. The title of each film is linked to a “pause schedule” that we hope to stick to. Pauses last little more than 30 seconds, and serve as pick-up points for people experiencing DVD burps. We will take a 20-30 minute break between each film.

The Fellowship of the Ring
Total run time: 208 minutes
Start time 11 a.m. EST [When is that in my time zone?]

The Two Towers
Total run time: 223 minutes
Start time 3 p.m. EST [When is that in my time zone?]

The Return of the King
Total run time: 251 minutes
Start time 7 p.m. EST [When is that in my time zone?]

Any questions? Please e-mail maegwen @ the one ring .net

We hope to see you there!

Posted in Old Special Reports

Ring*Con 2006 Images & Videos

daniel from treknews.de writes: We have uploaded three videospecials with lots of interviews with LOTR actors as well as over 1900 pictures from the recent Ring*Con 2006 from Fulda, Germany. The videospecials feature interviews with: Sean Astin, Miranda Otto, Mark Ferguson, Craig Parker, Lori Dungey & Bruce Hopkins. We also have videos from the press conference, panels of Astin, Parker and Ferguson, presentation from the upcoming videogame ‘elveon’, a convention behind the scenes clip (in German). [More]

Posted in Old Main News

2006 Sexiest Geeks: Call for Nominees

TORN LA Gathering 2004 Part II
Am I sexy enough?

Ok, this may be complete hubris, but I am throwing my name in the ring to win the ‘Sexiest Geek of the Year’ award on Wired.com. Wired is looking for people to nominate a sexy geek for The 10 sexiest geeks of the year…and I’m geek enough to try!

From the website: Be they programmers, scientists, writers, architects or attorneys, please leave your suggestions in the comment space below. There are no rules for submission. The only guidance we can offer is: you know a sexy geek when you see, nay, experience one. We’ll publish the finalists next month along with a space to vote for who you think is the smokingest geek. [Suggest xoanon!]

Posted in Old Main News

DVD Tuesday: Superman, Ant Bully & More!

Still too depressed about The Hobbit to think about anything else? Well these new DVDs on sale tomorrow may cheer you up for a while. There is some cool TV on DVD coming out including: ‘Bones – S1’, ‘Criminal Minds – S1’ & ‘St. Elsewhere – S1’. Be sure to take a look at ‘Dane Cook – Vicious Circle’, ‘Ellen Degeneres Show: Dvd-Licious’ & ‘Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Even Harder’. And of course the big release of the week is ‘Superman Returns’, but not to be outdone by the latest man of steel, it seems Warner Bros. is releasing almost everything ‘Super’ tomorrow as well! There is the ‘Christopher Reeve Superman Collection’, all 4 Reeve films, the 1940’s and 50’s set with Kirk Alyn, the ‘Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition’, even Supergirl and Smallville season 5 on HD DVD. Personally I want ‘The Usual Suspects (Collector’s Edition)’ & ‘Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition’ for Christmas! see the entire list of new DVDs available tomorrow right here. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Saul Zaentz Interview Not-so-recent?

Fans of Peter Jackson’s LOTR have been taking succor over the last couple of days from a snippet of an interview given by Tolkien Enterprises’ Saul Zaentz. The interview, which first surfaced here on Elbenwald quoted Zaentz saying the Hobbit would “defitely be shot by Peter Jackson”.

Now, WorldofKJ is reporting that the orginal source is German magazine Cinema, and that publishing lags mean the interview could well have been given several weeks ago. It’s unclear what this means for the Hobbit. In the short term, it appears Jackson will have no involvement with New Line (since the break-up came after Zaentz’s interview), but the production rights will still revert to Zaentz “next year”. And that deadline could still be something that forces a compromise from New Line somewhere along the way. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

PJ’s ‘The Hobbit’: Show Your Support!

Last week TheOneRing.net asked you, the fans, to show your support for a Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’ in a funny and creative way. And you responded! Take a look at the first gallery of photoshop creations and caption contest-entries by clicking on the poster below!

Not all of the entries for the caption contest came with an apropriate picture though, so be sure to check out some of these other suggestions we received! [More]

Posted in Old Main News

No PJ for the ‘Hobbit?’ What can YOU do?

So you still feel a little frustrated over all this PJ/Hobbit-news? Here are some things you can do:

Show us Peter Jackson’s Hobbit: Channel that frustration into something fun and creative! Photoshop, cut and paste a scene, poster or screenshot based on The Hobbit or simply the current situation of the project. Let your imagination run wild! [More]

Peter Jackson Caption Contest!: You think you’re upset? Join in on this caption ‘contest’ and let us know what you think Pete’s thinking! [Download the image]

Letter-writing Campaign: With the revelations from Peter Jackson’s letter to TheOneRing.net, the only way we are going to reach our goal of having a live-action version of ‘The Hobbit’ from Peter Jackson and his team, is by keeping after the studios who own the rights. [TheHobbitFilm.com]

Talk to other fans: TORn’s chat room and message boards have been humming with activity since the news broke earlier this week. Join in on the fun by meeting other Ringers who are chewing over what might happen next. Please mind the rules, and remember that our discussion areas are family-friendly. [Barliman’s chat room] [TORn message boards]

Posted in Old Main News

PJ’s ‘The Hobbit’: Show Your Support!

Last week TheOneRing.net asked you, the fans, to show your support for a Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’ in a funny and creative way. And you responded! Take a look at the first gallery of photoshop creations and caption contest-entries by clicking on the posters below!

Gallery 1:

Gallery 2:

Not all of the entries for the caption contest came with an apropriate picture though, so be sure to check out some of these other suggestions we received!

“New Line shall not pass!”

“Oh, well. This happened to the Beatles too, so I’m in good company”

“So Ordesky says ‘You’re not doing the Hobbit – put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

“If I made the Hobbit I would just get more complaints from the actors
about their fuzzy feet”

“Who do they think they’re going to get? Frank Oz? ‘A Muppet Hobbit’ with Kermit Froggins, Piggy Sackville Froggins, Fozzie Okenshield, Gandrolf the Gray and Gozzum?”

“This is where I belong. Just let ’em try to move in!”

“Squatter’s Rights! I was here first!”

“It took the Five Armies and the talents of Weta Digital to put these shoes on my feet.”

“Will he never cut the cake?”

“..I suppose if I’d just done a better job with the Lord of the Rings..”

“Hm, Fran and Phillipa told me I should just sit here and look interesting. I say show me The Precious”

“Oh well, at least I have the Simarillion trilology to work on…”

Now it could well be that you think you have a better, edgier or funnier caption, or that your Photoshop-skills surpass anything seen before on this website. In that case, be sure to keep sending us your entries! [Show Your Support!]

Posted in Old Special Reports

EA’s ‘The Rise of the Witch King’ Review!

The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King Mrcere writes: LOS ANGELES – Let me make this really easy for you: If you have played EA Game’s “Battle for Middle-earth II” and enjoyed it even moderately, the new expansion “The Rise of the Witch King” is spectacular! If you haven’t played it, you may find like I did, that crawling into Middle-earth in a game format is immensely fun and contains more of the ‘feel’ of Tolkien’s works that you thought possible. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

EA’s ‘The Rise of the Witch King’ Review!

The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King

Mrcere writes: LOS ANGELES – Let me make this really easy for you: If you have played EA Game’s “Battle for Middle-earth II” and enjoyed it even moderately, the new expansion “The Rise of the Witch King” is spectacular! If you haven’t played it, you may find like I did, that crawling into Middle-earth in a game format is immensely fun and contains more of the ‘feel’ of Tolkien’s works that you thought possible.

Everybody in the Tolkien universe, or at least the pop-culture side, knows that there are Lord of the Rings games aplenty. Most of us have some, boxed on a shelf or received as presents or even board games or card games or miniature games that have received a fair share of use.

Computer games are nothing new either. Console games or games for the PC have been around as long as Tolkien has been part of mainstream pop-culture. So EA’s two “Battle for Middle-earth” games have always been in the back of my mind somewhere as something I really should try.

So when the call came from EA Games to visit its campus and try out the new “Rise of the Witch King” expansion for the “Battle for Middle-earth II” game, I had a vague idea of what to expect. In the gaming circles, which I assume doesn’t include all TORn readers, BFME2 (Battle for Middle-earth 2) is a ‘real-time strategy’ game, known as RTS to gamers. I have even played RTS games before somewhere in the “Command & Conquer” series and had a lot of fun.

THE SUMMIT

The big event EA was promoting is the expansion of “BFME2: The Rise of the Witch King,” which hits the streets on November 28th and is a major addition/expansion to the game touted as having several significant upgrades and differences in game play. Apparently, TORn along with representatives from several gaming sites were the first to actually get hands on the finished game and play it. If you already know the BFME and BFME2 games, let me make this real easy for you: Rise of the Witch King is fantastic!

For the rest, who like me, maybe don’t know the games inside and out, let’s look with a little more depth. First, I only played the game for eight hours at most and some of that time was spent teaching myself the basics. BFME2 is required to play the expansion so EA didn’t need a tutorial on the game, but as a BFME2 virgin, I had to spend some control-learning time which was fun.

In full-disclosure, I can’t ethically give a complete review of the game because I didn’t play it all or anything close to it. I can only say that I absolutely loved what I played and if the rest of the experience can match the early stages, well, it was enough to send me scrambling for a BFME2 game so I could play the expansion after I completely devour the game it expands. Again, I can’t say for sure that the game holds up over time, but my enthusiasm for it at this stage is genuine.

THE BASICS

The Rise of the Witch King Screenshots For beginners, the concept puts a gamer as a 3rd person all-powerful controller of a race from Middle-earth. You can play Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Isengard, Men of the West, and Mordor. You will be pitted against the computer or other players who also control a group (called factions) and you square off to wipe each other off the map. Players must manage resources that are harvested by mechanisms such as mines for Dwarves, Mallorn trees for Elves, farms for Men and so on. Resources allow players to build various fighting units which can be used to take out the opponent’s army or his structures.

Now, that all sounds basic but the joy of the game comes from all the complexities inside that simple formula. To twist a phrase that only a Tolkien-geek can love, the Valar are in the details! A real feeling of the richness of Middle-earth is in the game, allowing players who manage well to produce stone-hurling Ents or a secret attack Watcher in the Water. Each faction has story-appropriate attacks and defenses and heroes. This allows favorite characters directly from the books and films to make appearances but without being silly stock units of an army.

WHAT IS NEW?

The Rise of the Witch King Screenshots So the expansion of the game takes the player out of the familiar movie and book world of LOTR. EA has a license from both New Line Cinema but with Tolkien Enterprises, allowing them to delve deep into the lore and legend of the greater Middle-earth, not just for the War of the Ring. (Look for more details in a pod-cast interview soon!)

Game producer Amir Rahimi presented the game to the community members and journalists invited to the summit. In favor of brevity let me just spit out the leading features about the expansion:

  • With 3,018 years between the loss of the ring and Frodo’s quest, EA picked the rise of Angmar and its leader, the Witch King to set its battles in
  • Basic game play changed, enhanced, deepened by 1) improved siege 2) enhanced, better artificial intelligence 3) new units
  • The new faction for the game is Angmar
  • Improved game artificial intelligence
  • Siege weapons improved, more of an emphasis in the game
  • Every former faction has new units
  • New weapons and armor – something for every unit
  • Economy feature added to world map (think Risk with money!)
  • 14 new territories, geography given emphasis
  • 8 complete missions available plus epilogue
  • New powers including: ghost of werewolf, soul freeze, snow blind, fell wind, avalanche (note the winter theme)
  • Lots of heroes from legend and lore including: Khamul (second in command of the 9 ringwraiths), Morgomir (another wraith), Wormtongue, Sharku, Azog (Orc who killed Thror), Brand (of Dale), Rogash, Hwaldar, Gothmog
  • Each faction gets a mini-hero or a hero in a unit as follows: knights of Dol Amroth, Noldor Elves, Dwarven Zerkers, Uruk Beserkers and fire drakes and black riders
  • Angmar units are thrall-masters that recruit different units on demand in the game, a versatility that is fun
  • Angmar sorcery units actually drain the life-force of his followers to cast spells, very cool

CONCLUSIONS

The Rise of the Witch King Screenshots So the pleasures of the game for me come on several different levels. I love the play, just the fun and strategy of the game. It seems to me, from talking with community members who know the game inside and out and from playing it myself, that of the versions of ‘Battle fore Middle-earth’ the Witch King expansion, features the best game play. Now again, I can’t know this for certain until I play the game and previous versions a lot more but that is definitely a strong impression I left the summit with.

The solid BFME2 game has been tweaked and improved to improve imperfections in its previous issue. Of course this happens all the time with such games in the way of patches, but this seems to be another step up.

I also enjoy feeling like I am back in Middle-earth while playing. I am a Tolkien guy and clearly the books are cannon and the films are an interesting interpretation, but the game allows me to poke around in the corners of Middle-earth that haven’t been defined in too much detail. At first concerned about being a bad guy like the witch-king, I found instead that it is fantastic fun. I enjoyed playing a version of what might have been a sequence of battles that led to the fall of the kingdoms of Men in Middle-earth. Witchy, and his followers, have a great and terrible legacy in Tolkien’s writings, but the details aren’t too specific and while the game isn’t gospel, it is fun. Playing it creates an impression of depth and substance that I enjoy.

I think I enjoy it more than playing a game set more in the time of the ‘Lord of the Rings’. My mind goes wild with possibilities of possible new directions EA could take these games. Although I know what I concoct in my head wouldn’t be commercial enough, I still love the ideas. I dearly hope the expansion game comes to the Xbox 360 as I find I just have too much to do at my computer already and I prefer my couch, big-screen TV, surround sound and thoughts of Xbox live. Hopefully the new Microsoft OS that promises to link computer and console game experiences will allow even more in-depth play.

My biggest criticism of the game is actually the limits on live and head-to-head play. I would have loved the possibilities of expanded team play. The idea of a TORn team (or several) facing off against three other players somewhere and co-operating to bring the other team down would expand live play into something beyond its current possibilities. I can hope EA fits this in the game for “Battle for Middle-earth III” (if it happens) or some other expansion. In my opinion, in today’s gaming marketplace, this alone would launch the game to a whole level.

Playing through the scripted missions is fun, but playing head-to-head offers a whole new intensity. With options to play it live, well, I fear the amount of time this little diversion might cost me. Part of this is game play and part of it is having my own hands in Tolkien’s imagined world. I doubt Christopher Tolkien is available for on-line matches, but still the game feels respectful of the good professor and his creation.

I talked with producer Amir Rahimi one-on-one for a few moments, mostly about how they managed to translate Middle-earth. That interview should be available on a pod-cast in a day or two.

SUMMIT TOURNAMENT

At the summit at the EA campus we were given several hours to get our hands on the game. Fittingly, we then were placed in a tournament to play head-to-head. I feel no shame in admitting that had I played every single one of the approximately dozen other players I would have lost to them all. Fortunately I only had to get wiped out once. These folks, compared to me, were masters but despite the butt-kicking I had a lot of fun and to my face at least, nobody laughed. One of the players, and a new friend from Heavengames.com, allowed TORn to use screenshots of her game. My fortresses and war machines were much less impressive than hers anyway, but they still don’t quite communicate the coolness of seeing this thing live. The animations and actions and behaviors and voices of the battle-units are just plain fun.

So, as the holiday’s approach, I must say I recommend the game with the exceptionally long name, “Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch King”. Vet gamers will appreciate it, especially live and Tolkien fans, especially those with a taste for exploring more Middle-earth will find many hours of fun.

Pre-Order ‘The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King’ on amazon.com today!

Posted in Old Special Reports

TV Watch: LOTR on TNT

brokenmandible sends along word that all three LOTR films will be on TNT On Demand through Comcast, Standard and High Definition versions, dates TBD. [FOTR] [TTT] [ROTK]

Posted in Old Main News