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January 19, 2003 - January 25, 2003

1-25-03 Latest News

One Fan's Encounter with Viggo and Karl
Calisuri @ 6:56 pm EST

From Ringer Helena. Here follows my memories of January 21 and 22, my birthday and the day I met Viggo Mortensen and Karl Urban:

I arrived at Tower Records by 7 pm to check Viggo's books' prices, since only those who bought at least one item next day would get a ticket for the signing. For my surprise, there were already a few women outside the store for the signing, they had blankets with them and the intention to spend the night there, in line on the street. We started talking , in the end I stayed with them all night and morning.

It wasn't permitted to stay in front of the store, waiting for the next day event. After the store was closed, 2 security men came to spend the night outside and make sure no one line would be made until 5 am. During the night there were fans all around the store, waiting for a sign to start the line for the tickets. I had the most miserable night of my life, I have never felt so cold. I wanted to go to a warm place and have some sleep, but there were already more than a hundred people there. and no one knew how many tickets were available, for some reason they wouldn't let us know, no matter how hard we tried. The night was horrible, but at least the company was good. There were some mean people there, but some great people too. I made good friends, since I was all alone and the youngest person, they looked after me. I'm very thankful.

At 5am we were told to get in line by the 2 men, everybody rushes, the space is small and some people got hurt and others lost their cell phones.

The morning came without sun to warm us, by 7 am there were more then 250 people in line. A employee came and told us to relax, that everyone in line by that time was going to get a ticket.

We entered the store by 10am, moving in line to the store's stairs, from the first floor to the seventh, where we would get to buy the books and get the ticket. I got mine by 11 o'clock, ticket number 124. Now I had some free time until 5:30 pm, the time we were told to come back.

We got inside 'Stage One' by 6pm, one of the staff explained us the rules : no pictures, just one when you get on the stage (from a certain distance), it was ok to give him presents and one person could get just one item signed. After finished, he introduced Viggo and the crowd of 400 fans started screaming. Viggo spoke about the experience of making LOTR and thanked our patience, he knew we were there since very early in the morning. At last, he introduced a very dear friend of his in Japanese, Karl Urban. We had no idea Karl was coming, it was a big surprise. Karl and Viggo were wearing the famous t-shirts with messages against war, this time written in Japanese.

The signing finally started, the two were giving all the attention they could to each fan. Karl made the crowd laugh for several times, he waved, sang and made jokes. Viggo was too busy for that.

Since it was my birthday, I decided to be one of the last in line, so I could try to take a picture with Viggo. I waited for 4 hours, it was very hot in there and I was feeling sick. When my turn got closer, I showed my ID to a Japanese lady standing by Viggo, to prove it was my birthday and try to get a picture. She was very rude to me, in fact, all the staff, from the night-security guys to those up in the stage weren't nice people at all, I am sure the actors would not approve the way we were treated by the staff, but since they don't understand Japanese, they have no idea of what was going on.

So, after dealing with the mean woman, I got to be in front of Viggo. I tried to talk to him in Spanish about the picture, but apparently it was so weird that he thought I was Italian. I laughed and said 'no, Brazilian!'. He took my camera from my hands and tried to take a picture of us, but the camera didn't work. I told him to ask the rude woman to take it for us, and he did. Now she had to take the picture, well done! The picture she took turned out great, I am very thankful. After taking the picture and getting his autograph on my book, I moved to get Karl's sign. We talked about 'The price of milk' and he said Happy Birthday to me. He signed me a Eomer picture.

Despite waiting in the cold for more than 10 hours, in the hot for 4 hours and the horrible staff people, I believe everyone left Stage One with a big smile and shining eyes.

1-24-03 Latest News

More Pictures From Japan
Xoanon @ 5:02 pm EST

The official LOTR site in Japan posted these images recently. Take a look!

GAMING: Decipher Dives Into The Deep
Xoanon @ 1:20 pm EST

Arhat writes: Decipher.com has started posting cards from the upcoming Battle of Helms Deep set. The second set in the TTT block.

The second expansion of The Lord of the Rings TCG drawn from The Two Towers™, Battle of Helm's Deep, will add depth and excitement to both open and Tower block formats, with wargs, Uruk berserkers, Knights of Gondor, Ent companions, and more. The new Gollum culture presents the option of using Gollum/Sméagol as a minion, companion, or both in the same deck.

Two different playable 60-card starter decks, featuring Éowyn and Legolas, contain a mix of cards from Battle of Helm's Deep and The Two Towers, including 3 fixed alternate-image rares found only in starter decks. The 11-card booster packs are all Battle of Helm's Deep, 1 rare plus a mixture of 10 commons and uncommons. A foil from the complete parallel diffraction foil set will replace a common card in approximately one in six booster packs. MSRP for the starter decks is only $9.99 each; for booster packs, $3.29 per pack.

1-23-03 Latest News

John Howe Website News
Xoanon @ 12:42 pm EST

From: The John Howe Website

What's on the drawing board :

A new Robin HOBB cover, for the third volume of the Tawny Man, which is currently entitled Fool‘s End. Head over to www.robinhobb.com for more details. I've drawn myself into a bit of a corner for this series - each cover consists of the border (only had to do that once, thankfully) a main front cover image, a back cover (with loads of room for happy graphic artists to cram with copy) a spine vignette, and eight vignettes. Deadline : the end of the month.

What's just been delivered :

A cover piece for a book by Eric Van Lustbader, featuring the heroine of the series and a water dragon. I'll post a jpeg as soon as the editor gives me the green light.
I've also finally finished the artwork for A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin.

What's up next :

Some time away there and back again. Hopefully, I'll have time to access the site whenever I get near a computer, so I can keep abreast of the forum.

The Tolkien exhibition will be in Rennes starting from March 31st to April 6th. The show went very well in Paris ; we had a marvellous opening, with Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and a generous handful of the cast and crew present. (Every time someone would hand me the catalogue to sign, it was already half-filled with all kinds of famous signatures. I had to squeeze mine in where I could.) Naturally, I managed NOT to actually come out of it all with a ccpy of my own catalogue, much less a signed one. How clueless can I get? We didn’t even take many photos, pretty pitiful, eh? For more information on the event in Rennes :

After Rennes, the show will be in Charleville-Mézières, before coming to the Neuchâtel for the next International Fantasy Film Festival. A real live film festival, here in sleepy Neuchâtel, coming up on its third edition !. That's what I call news. (Two years ago I had the immense honour of meeting Tobe Hooper - so, expect LOTS of news about the event as July draws nearer.)

Speaking of events, we just returned from the annual meeting of the Italian Tolkien Society in Rome last weekend. Their Tolkien exhibition is currently at the magnificent Castel Sant'Angelo, near the Vatican. Rome was of course warm and sunny and I took about half a million photos in the Forum. (I think there are definitely some landscapes of Victorian inspiration coming on - all that cracked marble and Mediterranean pines and cypresses is just too much to resist.)

So that’s it for now.
As the saying goes : watch this space !


1-22-03 Latest News

Lao_of_Gondor @ 4:52 pm EST

PART 1: How did it come to this...

Once again...the world is changing. I feel it in the water...I feel in the air...I see it in the rise of the second expansion set of The Two Towers: The Battle of Helm's Deep. Yet before all that we already know is lost in a sea of new cards, rules and strategies...let us reflect at length upon that great "wind" of change that was The Two Towers Premiere Expansion set and understand how it transformed the very essence of the card game, how it in fact did change the course of playing and in no doubt gave rise to new and more formidable strategic archetypes.

In understanding how The Two Towers enhanced the game from The Fellowship of The Ring expansions, we must first observe one undeniable truth: The Fellowship of the Ring TCG is based upon the idealism of CULTURE; how the forces of Middle-Earth were represented in terms of style, function and motivation and goal-orientation.

When the game was in its infancy, this major design tactic influenced the game in such a subtle way, many players did not utilize it as a definite opportunity in terms of deck-design and meta-game strategy. This concept of "cooperative" cultural strength became greatly enhanced as it was continued throughout the release of The Fellowship of the Ring expansion sets: The Mines of Moria and Realms of the Elf-Lords.

Grounded in this cultural identity, the game successfully mirrored the flavor and feel of how "strength" was found in the great "differences" within the cultures of Hobbit, Elf, Dwarf and Man represented in the 9 Companions of the Fellowship. Many of you know that this is also true of the archetypal (and nearly unbeatable) Fellowship strategies of the TCG as well. Large cooperative Fellowships, drawing upon their combined strengths and resources, worked together very well in protecting Frodo by exercising options not necessarily available in one singular culture.

Yet again, as seen in the great literary work of the "Fellowship", this ideal of a mixed cultural advantage was no longer the issue as the "Breaking of the Fellowship" forced these companions, in essence these cultures, to reconcile with the fact that their goals no longer are influenced by the underlying quest of the ring as Frodo and Sam, or Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli encountered new allies, new threats, new cultures and the overwhelming sense of the oncoming war upon Middle-Earth.

Therefore, The Two Towers TCG changed the fundamental mentality of this cultural based strategy by offering a new and more clarified approach to deck-design and strategy: strength through cultural isolationism. Many of the cards from this expansion focus on the power that can be produced by honing the sheer aspect of the culture through its advantages, resources and ideals.

PART 2: This is your world too!

Now that we have a better understanding of the "hows" and "whys" of The Two Towers Premier Expansion, let us step back and take a look at how a focused cultural approach has given rise to an even stronger, more effective and highly concentrated set of goals, controls and opportunities in this larger and more strategically complex playing environment:


This is the first of three new cultures introduced into the game, adding to the overall cultural diversity also found within the Shadow forces which threaten Middle Earth.

Cultural Strength: Numbers...sheer numbers. Like the Moria Culture of the "Fellowship" sets, this culture is heavily based upon the swarm tactic: force in numbers to overwhelm the companions in the Fellowship. Unlike Moria, many of these Dunlendings such as DUNLENDING MADMAN (4C12) and DUNLENDING ROBBER (4C16) increase in strength and become FIERCE after successful skirmishes. Enhanced with incredible possession destruction and the ability to negate roaming penalties as early as SITE 3, Dunland minions are indeed a very powerful culture, incredibly focused and highly effective against possession based Fellowships - which is in the nature of their overall culture: looting and pillaging.

Related Support Cards:
A. Hides (4R19) - Dunland minions have one severe weakness: low vitality. Archery will decimate their numbers before they have a chance to skirmish and activate their special abilities. This possession can either be discarded to use or can utilize the spending of 2 twilight tokens in order to prevent the one wound which would not only kill your minion, but could quite possibly eliminate the one advantage you may have had in that particular skirmish; overwhelming numbers, fierce skirmishing or possession destruction.
B. Dark Fury (4C7) - Sanctuary is no longer safe for the Fellowship as this event adds +2 strength to any Dunland minion - or a surprise +4 at a Sanctuary!

Represented by either Gimli: Lockbearer or Gimli: Unbidden Guest, the Dwarven culture is probably the only one best utilized when splashed into an overall Fellowship strategy. Since Gimli is the only Dwarf representing the Dwarven culture as a whole in The Two Towers, his cultural support is minimal, but by no means insignificant.

Cultural Strength: Many Dwarven culture cards are based around 2 different strategies: card cycling and strength adding - either to Gimli, another Dwarf, or to another companion, preferably Legolas.

Related Support Cards:
A. Khazad Ai-menu (4C51) - Make a Dwarf strength +2 (or strength +3 and damage +1 if you spot Legolas). This card of course represents the ever-growing friendship and admiration Gimli feels toward his very first elf-friend Legolas and how they protect each other in this time of war.
B. My Axe is Notched (4U52) - One of the most enjoyable Dwarven cards in this expansion as it simulates the classic Uruk-slaying competition between Legolas and Gimli and how that competitive nature adds to Gimli's inherent combative skills.

The Elves in this expansion have truly returned to their honed mastery of warfare. Almost every single card in this culture depends upon a focused Elven compansionship (usually at least 3 or more) working together to accomplish not just victory, but the total decimation of all Shadow forces, supplies and resources - as seen in the days of the Second Age. Most notably, the Elven Forces of the Galadhrim sent forth from Lorien charge into the forefront with incredible SKIRMISH abilities, complimented with a host of weapons, event cards and conditions increasing overall success in combat.

Cultural Strength: Success in this culture can only be truly achieved by adopting the Elven ideal of isolationism; a belief system which the Elves embraced to achieve the highest nature of progress for their race - including the crafting of weapons and mastering the art of war. Cards such as SUPPORTING FIRE (4C83), SWORD-WALL (4R84 and KILLING FIELD (4R72) all represent this philosophy as you a required to spot 3 or more Elves in order to achieve very specific goals ranging from site liberation to preying upon the weakness of wounded enemies.

Related Support Cards:
A. HALDIR, Emissary of the Galadhrim (4C71) - While no opponent controls a site, Haldir is strength +2. And, following the Elven cultural strategy, spot Haldir at a battleground site and exert another Elf to liberate a site - preserving Haldir's strength bonus while keeping your opponent from gaining the advantage of site control.
B. Alliance Reforged (4R58) - Draw a card for each Elf companion you spot. Utilizing 3 or more Elven companions, this is an incredible tactical advantage to prepare your hand either for massive skirmishing or for defensive maneuvers.

WOW! I think that's about enough so far. Let's take this opportunity to digest all of this information and I'll return soon with reviews of the remaining 6 cultures which round out The Two Towers premiere expansion.

More to come...

Lao of Gondor

Emerald Rose Selected to perform at Post - Oscar "Lord of the Rings" Party
Calisuri @ 10:55 am EST

North Georgia band featured by Tolkien fans at Hollywood Gala Event

Celtic folk-rockers Emerald Rose will be featured performers at the upcoming post-Oscar event to be held in honor of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" director, cast and crew. Tolkien fans from the internet web site www.TheOneRing.net will be hosting "Two Towers: One Party", in honor of the success of the latest movie in the popular series. The event will be held March 23rd at the prestigious Hollywood Athletic Club, and will feature live broadcasts of the Oscars during the awards ceremony, followed by live entertainment through the evening.

Emerald Rose is a high energy Celtic folk rock band that blends harmony vocals, pennywhistle, world percussion and driving guitars and bass. Their music ranges from traditional jigs and reels to original folk rock and pop songs. The band often draws from Celtic myth and legend to create their unique sound.

Emerald Rose is well known to Celtic music fans in the Southeast, and the band has been forging a following in the New York and Boston areas during the past two years. Band member Brian (Logan) Sullivan says, "We had a chance to share table space with TheOneRing.net at Dragon*Con 2001 in Atlanta, just before the first movie hit, and we've been Tolkien fans for years, so that was exciting for us. Last year we played their 'Evening at Bree' costume party, where elves, hobbits and rangers ended up dancing a spontaneous Macarena to one of our songs! It was great to be the house band at the Inn of the Prancing Pony! We're looking forward to a fun-filled show out in Hollywood, and we're delighted to be able to present some of our music to such a talented group of folks!"

"We read Tolkien aloud at home for our family time, so this opportunity is very special to us. Sharing LOTR with our kids has been a peak experience. We have all been very impressed by the movies - they have been a constant topic of conversation and (sometimes heated) debate among the band". All four members have are long-time fans of the Tolkien series and have been avid fantasy gamers for years. They are passionate fans of Magic: The Gathering, and play fervently when on tour.

Science fiction and fantasy cons are some of their favorite gigs. The band has been musical guests at I*Con in New York, DragonCon and Fantasm in Atlanta, and they will be the Filk Guests of Honor at Galacticon 2003 in Chattanooga.

Emerald Rose has been touring throughout the Eastern US for the past two years. Their cd "Bending Tradition" won them international critical acclaim and radio airplay across the US and in Canada, Europe and Australia. Their subsequent release, "Fire in the Head - Emerald Rose Live" has garnered even greater enthusiasm from fans and the press, propelling the band into full time touring and recording. Early 2003 will see the group releasing their traditionally influenced cd, "Celtic Crescent". The band has received over 380,000 downloads at internet music site http://www.mp3.com, and charted #1 songs in several musical genres.

Emerald Rose is currently touring in the Southeast US. They have a website at http://www.emeraldrose.com, and a free song download page at http://www.mp3.com/emeraldrose.

CD's are available from their website, or can be ordered from Amazon.com and CDbaby.com.

Contact: Brian Sullivan 706 864-0882
Website: http://www.emeraldrose.com
Music Downloads at http://www.mp3.com/emeraldrose

1-21-03 Latest News

VARIETY: 'Towers' powers past $400 million
Xoanon @ 12:46 pm EST


"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" passed $400 million internationally and registered Italy's biggest opening weekend ever while rapper Eminem found his voice with stellar debuts for "8 Mile" in the U.K., Oz, Mexico and smaller territories. The Italian preem for "Two Towers" returned $9.1 million in four days in an otherwise soft market where the Warners co-produced local comedy "Ma che colpe abbiamo noi" is the only other fresh title.

Helmer Curtis Hanson's fictionalized biopic of Eminem took $15.5 million in 14 territories.

Down Under distrib UIP might have underestimated the twin forces of Eminem and summer holidays stretching into week five. Pic released on just 217 screens, half the number that launched "Harry Potter" and "Two Towers" and 60 screens fewer than last week's chart topper "Catch Me if You Can." As a result "8 Mile" returned a hefty $14,000 screen average to hit $2.9 million in four days. Other frame leaders "Two Towers" (in lap four) and "Catch Me" (in lap two) dropped 40% and 44%, respectively.

In Blighty, Eminem's bigscreen debut returned $6.2 million in three days ($7 million including limited sneaks) to register Universal's sixth biggest opening weekend there, ahead of studiomates "Gladiator" and "Jurassic Park II." Miramax's "Chicago" also made a splash, expanding to 276 screens after three weeks of sneaks; total B.O. is now $3.83 million.

In Germany and Austria "8 Mile" dropped 30% in lap two against a stellar debut of "Star Trek: Nemesis," which took about $3.2 million from 742 in fours days in Germany and $280,000 from 63 in three days in Austria. Pic, in its third week in Blighty, has nabbed $10 million.

Miramax's "The Quiet American" wowed auds Down Under in its second international outing after preeming in Blighty in November. Auds in helmer Phillip Noyce's homeland spent about $476,000 at 61 locations in four days, a firm $7625 screen average.

1-20-03 Latest News

UK Sunday Mail Eowyn & Theoden Images
Xoanon @ 6:50 pm EST

We posted these images a while ago, however we have now managed to get our little hands on a great Hi-Rez scan of the Eowyn and Theoden images from the UK Sunday Mail. I zoomed in on each of them to give you a better look at the details of their costumes!

The Must-See LOTR Cast Projects Of 2003: Part Two
Strider @ 5:04 pm EST

Yesterday I listed the first half of my ten personal highlights of the upcoming movie year that involve cast members of The Lord of the Rings. If you found the list even vaguely interesting, read on for what will hopefully be five more of the most successful films of 2003.

The Pirates of the Caribbean
July 9th - Official Site - IMDb - Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

Originating from the DisneyWorld anamatronic ride of the same name, no punches have been pulled in ensuring that The Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the biggest hits of 2003, with Disney providing the project a huge budget and casting some top-notch acting talent. Orlando Bloom stars as the first-mate to Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, who sets sail across the seas in an attempt to prevent Captain Blackheart and his pirates reversing an ancient curse that makes them appear as pirates in the moonlight. Disney are already talking about making the film into a ride if a success...

The Riding of the Laddie
TBC 2003 - No Official Site - IMDb - Christopher Lee, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Astin

Thirty years after The Wicker Man went down in movie history as one of the most chilling and provocative horror pieces ever created, star Christopher Lee has teamed up with original director Robin Hardy and The Lord of the Rings co-star Sean Astin for its sequel: The Riding of the Laddie. Its title referring an ancient Scottish ceremonial security check of an area's boundaries, The Riding of the Laddie follows two American born-again Christians coming to preach in a Scottish village. Hopefully the sequel will match the cult status of its original.

April 11th - No Official Site - IMDb - Paul Walker, Frances O' Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Marton Csokas

One of the most eagerly-anticipated movies of 2003, many people are looking forward to see how well Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner adopts Jurassic Park and ER scribe Michael Crichton's critically-acclaimed novel of 1999, in which a group of archaeological students are trapped back in the 14th Century France in an attempt to rescue their similarly stranded Professor. Marton Csokas plays homicidal and maniacal knight Robert Dekere after impressing in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and xXx.

Veronica Guerin
May 9th - VeronicaGuerin.com - IMDb - Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Ciarán Hinds

Despite being one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood, Cate Blanchett isn't afraid to take on small projects as well as the big; just look at her recent roles in Charlotte Gray, Heaven and The Shipping News. In Joel Schumacher's Veronica Guerin, Blanchett once again plays an incredibly strong female role as she depicts Irish investigative journalist Veronica Guerin, who in 1996 was assassinated by drug dealers. Expect nothing but the finest performances from Blanchett, Farrell and co.

X-Men 2
25th April - X-Men-The-Movie.com - IMDb - Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry

Once can't help but feel that Sam Raimi and friends owe Bryan Singer a small bit of thanks for the incredible success both financially and critically of Spider-Man last year. If it wasn't for Singer's X-Men in 2000, which reaped the benefits of a up-and-coming director, a superb cast and a screenplay supported by die-hard fans, recent projects like Spider-Man, DareDevil and Hellboy wouldn't be in production. Simply put, X-Men put comic-book-based movies back on the Hollywood map. Ian McKellen reprises his role as antagonist Magneto in what should be, with a bigger budget, bigger cast and an excellent script, one of the biggest hits of 2003.

Other Noteworthy Projects Of 2003
The Big Empty - Sean Beans stars alongside Jon Favreau and Kelsey Grammer in this movie about a budding actor facing a stalled career and mounting debts.
Emile - Ian McKellen plays Emile, an elderly man who's attempt to reconcile with his last living relation envokes powerful memories of how he isolated himself from his family in the past.
The Great Ceili War - Bernard Hill leads a host of Ireland's finest acting talent and Band of Brothers star Phil Barantini in a film by accomplished UK director John Irvin.
Jersey Girl - Liv Tyler features alongside Matt Damon and Hollywood's hottest couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in this star-studded comedy.
The Last Ride - Cate Blanchett works with her estranged father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, to retrieve her kidnapped daughter.

1-19-03 Latest News

'Hobbit' Stage Play Report
Xoanon @ 7:28 pm EST

Catherine writes:

Despite the press that everything else "Tolkien-esque" is receiving, it almost passed unnoticed that "The Hobbit" was being performed at my local theatre, The Empire in Liverpool. Saturday was the final performance and it was Friday already. Sure enough, three tickets were promptly booked for the following evening. Myself, and my two companions settled down into the worst seats in the whole of the theatre, and with mixed reviews running through our minds, prepared ourselves for three hours of The Hobbit...

Overall, a very good performance and adaptation was presented. Michael Geary as Bilbo Baggins was everything I could have wanted and more. I don't usually gush, but this guy was fantastic, he totally captured the essence of all things hobbity! His pose, his fumbling, and even his somewhat pompous expostulations were captured straight from Tolkien's text. The 13 dwarves were shrunk to five, with Kili, Fili, Balin, Bombur, and of course Thorin, making the final cut. Despite this drastic reduction, it still worked and each dwarf showed their individuality on stage. Many of the dwarves songs were included, and a talented cast made sure that their interpretations were well sang.

The songs had a Celtic essence to them and on the whole were very refreshing. Gandalf held his own and had a authoritative presence on stage, but on the whole the show was stolen by Bilbo and the dwarves. The play was true to the text, Glyn Robbins did a very good job of adapting the story for the stage yet still retaining the needed detail and feeling present in the original text.

Things worth mentioning are the special effects (Smaug was indeed impressive, as was the Mirkwood spider dropping onto Bilbo from her web) the setting (simple yet very effective) and the dance!! The dancing and entertainment provide for the travellers at Beorn's dwelling was the highlight of the show. The dance had a distinct Irish basis and yet again showed the versatility of the actors.

There are however, a few complaints. Apart from the amusing drunken wood elves "guarding" the prisoners in Mirkwood, I felt the elves were portrayed very poorly. Rivendell resembled an underwater kingdom, and Elrond had an uncanny likening to a lime green mermaid. Thranduil, Elven king of Mirkwood, did not impress me one bit. Also, parts of the play seemed to drag, especially the lengthy fight scenes.

However, all in all, a very good performance. It was wonderful to see how the passion of the actors brought Tolkien to life, in a very different way to the current films.

Since the book's first publication in 1937, to this day The Hobbit - The Play captures the inner child in us all, and sends us back to Middle Earth as JRR Tolkiem first imagined it.

Catherine, Liverpool England

The Must-See LOTR Cast Projects Of 2003: Part One
Strider @ 11:43 am EST

With the incredible success of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, many members of The Lord of the Rings cast have sensibly used their appearances in Peter Jackson's epic as a springboard for their movie careers. This year will see the actors and actresses we know and love so well as characters of Middle-earth appear in places such as Australia and Mexico as many of the LotR cast dabble in various genres, from action to drama to comedy. For movie buffs and casual fans alike, I've compiled a list of my ten personal highlights from all the movie projects involving the likes of Mortensen, McKellen and Wood, and over the space of today and tomorrow will list them off in alphabetical order - hopefully your appetites for the upcoming movie year will be suitably whetted as a result.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
TBC 2003 - No Official Site - IMDb - Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood

The latest story from Charlie Kauffman, arguably the finest screenwriter in Hollywood at the moment after his most recent efforts Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Being John Malkovich, the film focuses on a man who after discovering his ex-girlfriend had all memory of him wiped from her mind, decides to undergo the same procedure. With a steller cast which includes Elijah Wood as the scientist who administers the memory-wiping, an accomplished director and an absoloutely fabulous script, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could be THE sleeper hit of 2003.

October 3rd - No Official Site - IMDb - Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Frank Collison, Saïd Taghmaoui

From the director of Jumanji and Jurassic Park III, Viggo Mortensen once again finds himself on horseback in this true story detailing the life of Frank T. Hopkins, a courier who in 1890 travelled from the US to Saudi Arabia on his horse Hidalgo and competed in the internationally reknowned, 3000 mile-long "Ocean of Fire" race across the African desert. Disney executives believe that after The Lord of the Rings's success, the name 'Viggo Mortensen' alone should be enough to recoup the film's $80m budget and secure a rare success for the lately shakey Mouse House: we think so too.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
June 6th - TheFarSideoftheWorld.com - IMDb - Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy

Based on Patrick O' Brian's best-selling novels concerning the Napoleonic wars and directed by Peter Weir in his first project since The Truman Show, Master & Commander details the journey of the H.M.S Suprise under the guidance of Crowe's Royal Navy Captain in a chase across the world after an armed and ruthless French privateer. Billy Boyd features as one of Crowe's trusted ship-mates on the Suprise and should reap the benefits of starring alongside the Oscar winner in what should prove to be an exciting and profitable period piece.

The Matrix: Reloaded & Revolutions
May 15th & November 7th - WhatIsTheMatrix.com - IMDb - Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

It's typical...you wait four years for a sequel to The Matrix, and two come along at once. Eagerly-awaited ever since the first movie came out of nowhere and took the world by storm in 1999, 'Reloaded and 'Revolutions are undertaking one of the most ambitious story arcs ever; one giant story set over the space of 24 hours depicting Neo's attempt to prevent Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith and his superiors destroying humankind once and for all, split across two films. Though for LotR fans 2003 belongs to The Return of the King, for the rest this year belongs to the Wachowski Brothers magnum opus.

Ned Kelly
25th April - NedKellyTheMovie.com - IMDb - Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush

Before starring in The Lord of the Rings, Orlando Bloom featured often on British TV but hardly had a movie career, a fleeting role in Wilde his only credit; my how things have changed. Based on the novel Our Sunshine detailing the life of legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly played by Heath Ledger, Bloom takes second billing as one of the members in Kelly's gang, Irishman Joe Byrne. With its release on the not so distant horizon, look for Bloom to impress in what could be the first great heist movie of the 21st Century.

Check back tomorrow (Wednesday) to see the second half of the must-see list, including Sean Astin and Christopher Lee's sequel to The Wicker Man, Riding the Laddie, and Sir Ian McKellen's X-Men 2.

Go back to Special Reports Archives