Monthly Archives: October 2012

Star Wars, art by RadoJavor

Art by RadoJavor

So, Disney bought Lucasfilm today, for $4bn. Crazy, right? And then there’s the announcement, midway through the press release: a seventh Star Wars film, with a working title of Episode 7, presumably taking place after the close of Return of the Jedi.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

Uh, wow.

The full press release can be read on The Walt Disney Company’s press site.

Dragon Quest VII coming to Nintendo 3DS

Art by Akira Toriyama

Dragon Quest VII coming to Nintendo 3DS

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The best news last week was that a 65 year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger is reprising his role as Conan the Barbarian in an upcoming film. The best news this week? Dragon Quest VII, a much debated and eternally long volume in the much-loved RPG series, will be coming to Nintendo 3DS early next year. In Japan.

Even the synopsis, taken from the original Playstation release, is charming:

You play the role of a 16 year old boy who lives in the village of Fishbell and aspires to be a great fisherman, like your father Borkano. Once The Hero and his friends Keifer and Maribell start exploring Estard Island, they discover that there used to be more to the world than just their small piece of land. The trio will have to collect ancient tablet shards and use them to revive the lost continents, uncover why they were lost, and who erased them to begin with.

This immediately leaps to the top of my list of most anticipated games. Based on the above scan, the release appears to be a full-on remake, much needed for one of the ugliest (if charming) games of all time. Though this has only been announced for a Japanese release, the previous Nintendo DS remakes of Dragon Quest‘s 4-5 were well received in North America and sold respectably, suggesting that an announcement of an overseas release is likely an inevitability. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski

Though his the first two novels in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series, starring Geralt the Witcher, an anti-hero who deserves to sit alongside the likes of Elric of Melibourne, were critically well received when they were published in English for the first time several years ago, and the videogame adaptations based on his series have sold millions of copies, the Polish author has had little luck in negotiating the English publishing and translation rights for the ensuing volumes of Geralt’s saga. That has changed, however, thanks to a group of ardent fans who have recently released their own translations of the books as free downloads for other Geralt fans.

Of course, the legality of this project is somewhat in question, given that the English rights to the stories presumably still belong to Sapkowski and these fan translations are being distributed (again, presumably) without his knowledge. On top of that, these being fan translations, the quality of the writing/translation is likely below the standard of the professional English releases of Sapkowski’s other novels. So ‘buyer’ beware on those two fronts, and I suggest you consider the ethics/legality of the project before downloading the files.

The fan translations can be found on the official forums for The Witcher, the videogame series based off of Sapkowski’s series.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan The Barbarian

Best news of the day? It comes from Deadline:

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has made a deal for The Legend Of Conan, an action film that will star Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his signature roles, as Robert E. Howard’s mythic barbarian. The deal brings Conan and Schwarzenegger back with Universal, which released the first film that launched Schwarzenegger’s movie career back in 1982. Universal has world rights on the film.

The film will be produced by Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan. Malmberg is CEO of Paradox Entertainment, which holds the rights to Conan. Morgan is the Universal-based writer and producer whose credits include the last four Fast and the Furious films, along with Wanted and 47 Ronin. Morgan has hatched the story and might write the script. The caveat is that the studio wants The Legend of Conan for summer 2014, and Morgan might not be finished writing the seventh Fast and Furious installment by then. If that happens he will be a very active producer, because this is Morgan’s dream project.

Arnie may be a senior citizen now (seriously, he’s 65 years old), but this is just music to my ears. Can’t wait to see how this turns out. Also, please excuse my pun-tastic title. I couldn’t resist.

Ian McKellan is GandalfThe Hobbit has has an interesting road to theatres, fraught with obstacles that, at times, appeared seemingly insurmontable. Now, we are only a few weeks away from the release of the first film in the Hobbit trilogy, and things are looking (mostly) peachy, but though the road might go ever on, Ian McKellan recently reminded fans that it can often be a bumpy ride. On his blog, the actor recently revealed some of his early doubts about returning to the world of Middle Earth and donning the grey wizard’s iconic hat:

Now I’ve returned to Gandalf, I can’t quite believe that there was ever any doubt in my mind – but there was! There always is, with any job offer.

In making up my mind, I usually write down the pros and the cons and see which list is the longer or weightier. Thus:

PRO: Working with Peter Jackson is always stimulating and fun: we make each other laugh and he doesn’t let me get away with anything too theatrical on film. I admire his world-class colleagues like Andrew Lesnie (cinematographer), John Howe and Alan Lee (designers of Middle-earth) and so many more who returned for The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has become a cinematic classic and the same could well be true of The Hobbit. I enjoy living in New Zealand and exploring the amazingly beautiful countryside.

CON: A two-year commitment to The Hobbit would keep me from other work and keep me away from home and friends in London. I like new challenges and I’ve already played Gandalf the Grey.

When Peter first told me he had committed to The Hobbit, I immediately cleared my diary and stood by for the call. It was a long time coming, because Peter withdrew from the project and was replaced by Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo and I got on well, with a couple of meetings discussing his approach. Then he too withdrew. So it was back with Peter and then more delays, through illness and disagreements with the New Zealand actors’ union. I began to think The Hobbit was jinxed – another reason con.

What clinched it and made up my mind was the advice of a wise friend: “Ian, all those fans of the LOTR aren’t going to understand or care about your doubts. They just want to see you back as Gandalf.” And then I realised what I’d known all along, that I couldn’t bear to think of another actor donning the pointy hat and grey robes.

And that was that. Thank goodness!

Thank goodness, indeed. In the decade since their first release, the film version have become as integral to the mythos of Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s world as the books themselves, at least to this blogger. To love the face of one of the film’s most iconic and powerful performances would be a tragedy. Good to have you back on board, Ian.