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July 25, 2002 - August 01, 2002

8-01-02 Latest News

Interview with Neil Young
DarthCaeser @ 1:11 pm EST

I recently paid a visit to Electronic Arts to check out the new LOTR games based on the movies and chat with some of the producers. Look for hands-on previews of the PS2 and GBA games soon, but first, an interview with Neil Young, the Vice President of the franchise.

British-born Young began his career in the interactive entertainment industry in 1988, when he was a programmer and producer at Imagitec, a small British development company.

He joined the staff at Probe Software in 1990 as a senior producer, working on a wide variety of titles for Acclaim, Sega, Hudson, USGold and Virgin Interactive.

Young moved to the United States in 1992, where he went to work for Virgin Interactive, where he produced or executive produced Disney's Aladdin, Jungle Book, Toonstruck and 11th Hour, among many others. He was quickly promoted to Vice President for Product

In April of 1997, Young was named Vice President and General Manager of ORIGIN Systems, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts based in Austin, Texas. During this time, Young supervised the launch of the highly successful Ultima Online.

In 1999, Young left ORIGIN to become Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production at Electronic Arts, where he founded Synthetic Studio, a new studio currently creating next-generation interactive content exclusively for EA's new online business division, EA.com.

(DarthCaeser): From Blinky: Will the game be very linear -- will we be able to explore Middle-earth or will we be stuck to a specific path?

(Neil Young): The game is a fairly linear progression through the story of the movie, and what we're trying to do is trying to give people a sense that they are playing the movies, that they're in the world of the movie. Versus trying to re-imagine Tolkien's work, we have to adapt Peter [Jackson]'s work. And I think that what ends up being the pinnacle of the property is if we can take that great visual imagery that Peter has brought and stamped indelibly on the world and bring interactivity to it, so we end up capturing the very best parts of the process so far. Return of the King will be a little less linear in it's progression and then Trilogy a little less so. The Two Towers is an action game, Return of the King is an Action/Adventure, and then Trilogy is an Epic Story Adventure. So we're shifting and moving over time to try and get to the place where we want to get to ultimately, the Trilogy, which is to try and create as memorable and impactful a version of the work in our medium as Peter's Jackson's work is in his medium or the original works were literary works. And so inherent in that is some degree of exploration and being able to see and feel the environment.

(DC): Also from Blinky: Will the game give away any major plot details to the movie The Two Towers?

(NY): It depends on your standpoint, it's hard to give away plot details because the books have been out for a long time. Although what the film makers do do is they play around with time and compress time and sort of editorialize the books, and bring the things to their medium that they think will be the most impactful. So to the extent that the main areas of the film are the main areas that will be focused on in the games, then yes, we will certainly be hinting at what people are likely to see in the Two Towers. Then we have footage from the Two Towers in our game ahead of the film. I think for the fans it will be a really big kick to see stuff from the movie ahead of it's actual release. I think that's going to be exciting for people, I think it's going to be really exciting to play in Fangorn, to play in Rohan and Edoras, to play in Helm's Deep. And to be playing in Helm's Deep and controlling an Aragorn that looks and sounds like Viggo Mortensen, or a Legolas that looks and sounds like Orlando Bloom in an environment that is built on top of the architectural model of Helm's Deep itself. I think that's going to really give people a sense of what that world is like. And I hope that when they go to see the movie, in the back of their head they're sort of thinking about the game, and in the move maybe they saw the shot here, but in the game they were able to actually run around the corner there, and they know what is around the corner. That's one of the things we are trying to do.

(DC): From OhioYankee: Will the other members of the Fellowship join in the battles as NPC's?

(NY): Yes, they absolutely will. You can play as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and one hidden character. In the environments often if I'm playing as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli will be running alongside me and fighting with me. But if I'm in Balin's Tomb not only will they be fighting along side me, but also Frodo will be in there and Gandalf is in there and Boromir is in there. Merry and Pippin aren't in that sequence for us in the game because we're just running out of characters we can fit on the screen. In Amon Hen, Frodo runs off and you're fighting along side, if you're playing as Legolas for example, fighting along side Aragorn and Gimli. So yeah, you'll be able to fight along side Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White.

(DC): Also from OhioYankee: What will the Boss Battles be like?

(NY): Really good, fun, fun... The real emphasis in the game is actually not in the boss battles, the real emphasis in the game is in the combat that you have with the Orcs, going from whether it's a sort of lesser melee Orc, which is kind of like a Goblin from Moria; a Moria Orc, all the way up to an armored Uruk Hai with a shield, So there's a range of Orcs you can battle against, and a close relationship between attacking and parrying. I think what you'll see is you kind of get a sense that it's about trying to give people an experience as much as it is about trying to give them a game. So it will be a good game and it will be fun, but it will be like playing the movie, it will look like it, it sounds like it, it feels like it. And that's sort of the essence that we want to try to get across, more than a focus on any specific type of creature or boss.

(DC): From Ranger of Dunland: Will the characters be given new weapons that will boost there stats?

(NY): Yes, there's this little sort of lite-RPG system in the Two Towers game, whereas you kill Orc's you build experience and then you level up. You get to spend those experience points at the end of the levels, at the end of the missions on upgrades. And those upgrades are unlocked based on your level. You can go up to ten levels for each of the characters. At the beginning of each mission, you pick the character you want to play. So by the end of the game, if you've picked Aragorn 80% of the time, then you've probably got Aragorn to be a level eight character. But if you played Legolas all the rest of the time and Gimli not at all, then you've got Legolas at maybe level two or three, you've got Gimli at level one and you haven't unlocked all their features and potentials yet. So some of those things are bigger health bars, more powerful weapons... we sort of take a little liberty with the weaponry. For example, Legolas just has his regular arrows, but he can also fire flaming arrows, or sort of magical arrows if you like, and these are better at critical kills or head kills or whatever. That sort of helps extend the game.

(DC): Will the actors be providing their voices for the game?

(NY): Absolutely, we've just finished the recording of that, And on the game DVD, in the special features section, there are interviews with all the actors, certainly with Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies and Elijah Wood talking about the process of making it.

(DC): Have you begun work on Return of the King, and has anyone from EA seen a rough draft of Return of the King?

(NY): Yes, we have begun work on Return of the King. Has anyone seen a "rough draft" of the film? We have absolutely read the script for Return of the King, and we have seen a lot of the production stills and previous stuff from Return of the King. I've worked on movie games before, and this is by far the closest collaboration that I've ever had on any one of those products that I've worked on. Peter and Barrie [Osborne] down there, Peter is a Gamer, he loves games, he's excited about games. New Line and he and Barry who runs ThreeFootSix, the Producer of the film, have really been just awesome at kind of just "What do you need?" "How do we make it work?" "How do we build games that are as cool in your medium as the films are trying to be in ours?". And so whether that's sitting down with Richard Taylor and talking about what it really means to craft a sword from Middle Earth, or exactly why Aragorn is wearing the clothing that he's wearing and how it is made and how do we capture that. Or whether it's sitting down with Peter and talking about the areas of the books that he's trying to bring out in the films and things he thinks are important. Or whether it's literary using digital models from the film and bringing them to life interactively. Any of those things I think ends up adding to the quality of the games at the end of the day.

(DC): What are the challenges of working with the movie license versus the literary license?

(NY): If you flip the question the other way... I think it's more challenging to work on the license of the book than it is to work on the license of the film. And the reason I say that is, the books are huge epic pieces of work that the only imagery that exists to explain what a Balrog looks like, or what an Uruk Hai looks like, or what Saruman looks like, or what Gandalf looks like is really your own imagination, or it's Alan Lee and John Howe's work, which is essentially imagined from the books in the first place. If we were working with the book rights exclusively, I think it would be harder for us to focus on gameplay, because we'd be spending all our time focusing on "Well, what does a Balrog look like?" or "What shouldn't a Balrog look like?" Working on the film a lot of the visual imagery has been defined and I don't want to reinvent it. I think that people, for the foreseeable future, will have a very distinct image in their head of what an Uruk Hai looks like, or who Frodo is, or how Aragorn moves. Being able to capture that is a really big advantage for us. Being able to use Howard Shore's score, and being able to use the voices or sound effects or actors or film footage really allows us to craft an experience that has a strong center in gameplay, versus trying to build something that's got good gameplay. I think that sort of works to our advantage at the end of the day.

And as for the number one most asked question; "Will The Two Towers be coming to Xbox/Game Cube?"

Well, things were still in final negotiations during the interview, but we can now officially announce:

EA's The Two Towers will be coming to Xbox and GameCube in early 2003!

Check out some amazing screenshots
from EA!

Thomas G. Morrow III AKA: DarthCaeser is the Gaming Editor here at TheOneRing.net. He can be reached at DarthCaeser@theonering.net

Middle-earth Invades Comic Con
Xoanon @ 8:59 am EST

From: New Line Cinema



(Los Angeles, July 29, 2002) – Academy Award® winning members of the WETA Workshop, the New Zealand-based special effects company responsible for the visual effects and make-up on New Line Cinema’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, will attend Comic Con International from August 1-4. The highly anticipated central film of the trilogy, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, opens nationwide December 18th, 2002.

New Line Cinema’s presence at Comic Con will take many forms: among the highlights are a behind the scenes look at the making of this epic trilogy, featuring Richard Taylor, several members of his Academy Award® winning special effects team, and surprise special guests, a “Lord of the Rings Pavilion” showcasing many of the products tied in with this epic adventure, and a contest where one lucky fan will get the opportunity to “Become An Orc.”

The “Become An Orc” contest will be open to all attendees of Comic Con International, age 18 and older. An enter-to-win station will be set up at the Lord of the Rings Pavilion during convention operating hours (10:00am – 7:00pm) on Friday, August 2. At the end of the day, one winner will be randomly selected from all entries to return to the Pavilion Saturday morning to have Gino Acevedo (WETA Senior Prosthetics Supervisor) and Jason Docherty (WETA Workshop Supervisor) transform them into an Orc, one of the menacing, evil creatures seen in the film. The transformation process can be witnessed first-hand by the Comic Con crowd as it takes place at The Lord of the Rings Pavilion on Saturday morning from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

San Diego Comic Con International 2002 runs August 1-4 at the San Diego Convention Center. Visit The Lord of the Rings Official Website at www.lordoftherings.net

Comic-Con: Day 1
Flinch @ 2:34 am EST

TORN @ Comic Con 2002!

Welcome to the wonderful sights, sounds and sometimes smells of the San Diego Comic-Con International. We join our heroes around 1:00pm on Wednesday, leaning upon a box Vapors and I spy up and down Harbor Drive in beautiful downtown San Diego. After a time Vapors and I spy a charming man strolling up the sidewalk, being none other than Green Books’ own Tookish. We exchange our hellos, not having seen eachother since TheOneRing.net’s Oscar Party this past March, and head into the convention center.

Together we track down Tookish’s badge and take a walk into the massive hall that seems to stretch on for over a mile. We work our way over to the circular Lord of the Rings banner hanging high above the giant LOTR pavillion. Meeting and greeting with Tim Huckleburry from Games Workshop and the infamous Heath from SideShow, we walked up to what will haunt my dreams for years to come: a true to life towering Cave Troll with the logo of our sponsor SideShow/WETA plastered to the side.kill

The day progressed and slowly crews from SideShow/WETA, Decipher, Games Workshop, New Line, Universal, Houghton Mifflin, and Electronic Arts piled into the grand Lord of the Rings Pavillion. We were honored to find that Richard Taylor himself, fresh off the plane from New Zealand, was on hand to supervise the compilation of the WETA station. Accompanying Taylor was a slew of his highly skilled WETA Workshop Crew to assist. Throughout the day Vapors was chaporoned by Sala Baker and Lawrence Makoare, none other than Sauron and Lurtz from Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring.

As the day wound into night TheOneRing.net bookmarks evaporated from our booth and fans from all over the world checked in and headed on to other attractions in the LOTR pavillion. It was a sight to see the fans show their appreciation to Richard, Sala, Lawrence and the rest of the WETA crew. Overall an excellent way to launch an excellent convention.

See you tomorrow.

7-31-02 Latest News

Yet Another DVD Review!
Xoanon @ 10:27 am EST

From: Dave

Just finished my 1st viewing of the DVD / fullscreen edition, which I got my hands on at Walgreen's in Chicago burbs today. (they don't seem to be carrying the widescreen version).

I agree with other reviews about the quality of the transfer to DVD - looks very good, rich and clear, even on a puny 27" TV with no surround sound (thus I can't really comment on the sound), with a few exceptions. There were several points where there is what I have come to think of as "DVD pause", where, during a scene change, the frame seems to freeze for about a 1/2 of a second longer than it should. Maybe this is some kind of by-product of the reel-change mark that you see in the upper right hand corner of the film which signifies a switch to another reel at the theater. The net effect is kind of annoying, and it happens several times, most notably at the end of the secret council at Rivendell, right after Elrond says "you shall be known as the Fellowship of the Ring" and Pippin says "Great! Where are we going?" ha. There is definitely noticeably missing material on the fullscreen version, such as when the dragon firework goes off, you can't see the burning tent at all.

I found the special features disc to be rather weak as well. Most of this stuff we here have seen before (but it's nice to have in 1 place), although I hadn't seen the Houghton Mifflin special and I found that very interesting, some bits of history on Prof. Tolkien and the publishing of the books, instead of the now-common "extended trailers" that those specials sort of became. I was disappointed that there was no commentary whatsoever on this version. I was expecting that. The "special features" choice on disc 1 only tells you to put in disc 2 - DAAR.

The 10 minute Two Towers preview wasn't really what I expected, but it was very good. I thought it would be a 10-minute trailer. Instead it was some very cool behind the scenes stuff with some brief (and a few new) trailer scenes sprinkled in, with PJ giving a sort of guided tour (quite cool) - introducing the new characters - some good interview bits with cast - a lot of focus on the way they did Gollum, (with Andy Serkis in motion capture suit - nice interview bit with him) but no new footage of the finished Gollum at all, and not even a peek at an Ent. The part of the preview scene with "filthy thieves - you stole my precious and we wants it!" is much lighter and easier to see than what we saw in the online trailer - you get a much better look at Gollum there.

I feel a bit like a sucker for going for the marketing ploy (suppose I will now own 3 versions of FOTR on DVD), but hey, I suppose that's the nature of the geek.

Another DVD Review
Xoanon @ 10:10 am EST

Ringer Spy The One sends along his review of the FOTR DVD!

Hello there! I thought I'd write a review of the FOTR DVD, I would be very happy if you published it on TORn. It contains a rundown of every part of both discs and as a result is very comprehensive, I hope it will make the choice easier for people not sure whether to buy the DVD or not. Thank you very much! Here it is:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: DVD Review

My LOTR DVD arrived in the post yesterday, after having only ordered it from play.com on Friday! I live in the UK and I had heard that play.com were already shipping their DVDs so I was quick to get my order in. Anyway, now that I have it I thought it would only be fair to share what I have seen with those unfortunate ones who are still awaiting it's release. Needless to say, I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon watching all the special features, and then the evening watching the feature. For simplicity's sake, I will split the review up into easy to understand categories:

Disc 1

Disc 1 contains the main feature (the theatrical release), and nothing else. My main concern with the DVD was that it would not capture the atmosphere and fantastical elements of the film like the cinematic release did.

Luckily, I have been proven wrong. As the old saying goes, "to see is to believe" and in this case that phrase carries a lot of weight. The film translates exceptionally well to the small screen, considering I watch DVDs on a 17" monitor I was very happy with every element of it. The picture quality is crisp and clear, the colors are well defined and it seems far less daunting than seeing the film in the cinema. You really can't fault the visual aspect of the DVD. Likewise, the sound is also of a brilliant standard. Fellowship has a very good sound mix for starters, but the sound on the DVD is no short of perfect. There is just the right balance between music, sound effects and speech, none of this "over bassiness" that seems to dominate many DVDs now. The sound is spot on. Nothing seems to have been lost in this release either, as I said earlier it is, in many cases, easier to follow - especially in action sequences. The scene selection is great too; there are many chapters so it's not split up in to massive chunks. And, with both discs the interactive menus are amazing, they really are interactive! You'll want to reach out and touch things, as you click on certain buttons, the background will seamlessly change - they really are quite amazing! You won't be disappointed with Disc 1 one little bit.

Disc 2

This disc has all the special features - admittedly there isn't a whole lot of content here, but you were warned and you did know what you were buying! What is here, however, is generally of good quality and worth watching...

The Documentaries:

The DVD boasts 3 documentaries for your viewing pleasure. Now, I'm going to be honest here because you shouldn't get your hopes up too high for these.

The first documentary "Welcome to Middle Earth" starts with a short introduction about the original publishing of the LOTR books and then goes on to a behind the scenes look at FOTR. It makes a fairly interesting watch but for LOTR fans and followers it really is rather dull. I had already seen the Fox "Quest for the Ring" special on TV and I knew it was rather pathetic, with a very tedious and annoying Hollywood voice over the whole time - it's basically a preview for the film and would make acceptable viewing in the run up to the film but now it's utterly pointless and barely worth the watch even if you're a non Tolkien fan... Now, the last documentary "A Passage to Middle-Earth" is certainly a quality behind the scenes look at FOTR. It covers many of the main aspects of the film and is well worth a watch. If you are going to see just one documentary, this is it. Unfortunately though, I had sat through the proceeding two before seeing this and much of the content is repeated on all 3 programs. Quite why these triplets are advertised as "In Depth Programs" is beyond me. If documentaries is what you are after, wait for the second DVD release in November

The Featurettes:

Now, I am a sufferer of the 56k modem, and so I hadn't had a chance to see any of these featurettes, so I was looking forward to seeing them - especially as they are a similar idea to the Star Wars prequel featurettes which were done exceptionally well. All 15 of these "mini-documentaries" are very good in both quality and content. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them and have re-watched many since. One minor criticism: It would have been nice to have a "view all" button like on the TV spots so that I could have sat down and watched a good 30-45 minutes of LOTR documentaries. But this is a minor point and does not take away from the quality of these featurettes. Of course, if you have already seen these there is nothing new here, but it is nice to have them at a very good quality all the same.

Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots and Enya Video:

Not a whole lot to say here - mainly that it's nice to have the trailers in full quality and sound now, same with the TV spots, but these things lose their appeal after the film is released, and having the whole film on the other disc ready to be watched whenever really does take away the "thrill of the trailers". The Enya video is ok, nothing special either as I have the soundtrack and now the film on DVD so it rather defeats the point of this video - that's pretty much what it is, some shots from the film, the music track and a few shots of Enya... Having said that, it is quite nice to watch all these trailers etc. again - just something else to play with!

The Two Towers Video Game Preview:

I am quite a big gamer, but I hate consoles, really I do - and this did look like a deeply average console game, just some hack 'n' slash style scenes and that was about it. Nothing really special - and really just a movie cash in, I await a full blown Middle Earth RPG to get completely and utterly lost in. This is merely an advert for the game.

Inside look at the Extended DVD:

Now this is where the DVD gets interesting, very interesting! This only lasts about 3 maybe 4 minutes but you get to see quite a lot! I won't spoil it for you (In fact I believe you can already download this footage anyway) but you see some very interesting scenes, mainly things from the book but it looks like this release will be quite spectacular. I found myself continually on the pause button, and slow motion play to see what everything was! Perhaps a frame by frame analysis would be nice eh TORn? Well worth viewing - several times.

The Two Towers Preview:

Wohaa!! Now this is what we all bought the DVD for, right (well apart from the film of course)? Now, cast your mind back to the year 2001, when we had not seen a LOTR film and they kept throwing trailers at us - remember that feeling? "I want this film now! I can't physically wait! I would kill for this movie!!" Remember that? Well multiply that a few thousand times and you have what is known as The Two Towers Preview. You get to see a lot, and I mean a lot! This will not disappoint. It starts off with Jackson explaining to us what TTT is all about (As if we didn't already know!) and then taking us on a behind the scenes preview of Gollum as well as introducing us to all the main characters of TTT, including Theoden, Wormtongue, Faramir, Eowyn etc.. but no Treebeard! I expect that will be under wraps for sometime though ;) We get to see a lot of locations in detail such as Edoras and Helms Deep - and quite a few shots of the Battle of Helms Deep (That is going to be so amazing!) - with lots of comments from actors about their various parts in TTT including Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Billy Boyd etc.. There are lots and lots of shots, some of which have been on the trailers but mostly this deals with new content! Finally, the preview ends with what is essentially a trailer for the new film - quite a few shots from the other two trailers but some new things too. It really does whet your appetite for TTT. Now I can't wait for December!


Now despite what I have said on quite a few negative points of the second disc - on the whole it is very, very good and worth your money. If you are a Tolkien fan you will want this release, if you are just a regular punter, I would hold through until November and wait for the "BIG" release. If it's features, commentaries, documentaries etc..that you are after you won't find it here. Essentially, this is an advert for the other DVD, TTT and the video game with a few other things thrown in for extra measure. But to me, it's not that - its one special film translated exceptionally well with some lovely previews for the upcoming DVD and TTT. On the whole a very good DVD!

Final Score:

Just the movie: 99%

The whole DVD as a fan: 90%
The whole DVD as a regular DVD buyer: 70%

Bonus Limited-edition Book with FoTR DVD in Oz?
Demosthenes @ 6:25 am EST

K writes: A friend of mine was asking staff at David Jones (Woden, ACT, Australia) if they took pre-orders for FOTR. They said no, because they had a limited edition book which would be given out on a first-in, first-served basis to people buying FOTR once it's released.

I've heard nothing about this anywhere else. I pre-ordered my copy from the ABC Shop and nothing was said about any gift with the DVD or video. I'm hoping I'll get a copy and they just aren't mentioning it because they can't guarantee every pre-order will get it.

FOTR DVD Extras Review
Demosthenes @ 5:14 am EST

Quinn took the time to write this review of the Extras on the newly released FOTR theatrical DVD.

"I got my preview copy this afternoon and I'm afraid I have to agree with VenusXL. The film itself looks amazing and sounds better but the 'extras'are terrible. No commentary is just unforgivable. The features are just recycled bits that we've all seen a zillion times and which were just different versions of each other anyway. The web snippets are better but most real fans will have seen them already. Only the TT preview is worth the price of admission and it is great.

The casual fan who doesn't know that this is just a tease for the November version (as is now abundantly clear) is probably going to be wondering why this monster film that they spent untold millions of dollars to make ended up with such a lightweight DVD version. Then again though, maybe they will have not seen those ET TV special things already. They'll definitely be hunting all over the place for the commentary though. I sure was. I somehow missed that there would not be a commentary on this one and tried every menu I could find looking for it."


Alexis also sent in this review:
This is what the new TV Guide Aug 3-9 2002 had to say about the Lord of the Rings DVD in their Now Showing on Video and DVD column:

The Lord of the Rings
(VHS and DVD, available August 6)

The first installment of Peter Jackson's visually stunning adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy is a magical spectacle that makes the realm of Middle-earth seem utterly fantastic yet completely real. The elaborate DVD is truly one to rule them all, loaded with documentaries and a preview of the December 2002 "Rings" movie.

7-30-02 Latest News

FOTR DVD Review 2nd Disk Too!!
Xoanon @ 10:31 am EST

venusXL writes:

My Region 1 LOTR turned up yesterday.

First of, the film looks stunning. I expect until digital projectors are more common we will fund this more and more, but it really looks better then it did in the cinema. The colours are really strong etc and the whole thing looks better than I remember it.

I saw it at the flicks 3 times and for me the worse bit was the Bridge over Kaza Dum sequence. In that darkish environment the use of blue screens and stuff really didn't work and I always winced and the cheapness of it. Especial that bit where Frodo and Aragon are on the broken stair case and they sway it towards the rest. When Gandalf runs around a bend with the fire background matte it also looked fake - Gandalf seemed in higher resolution than the flames etc. I also didn't like the Balrog - looked too special effecty.

Now while not all these problems have gone - the whole scene does look shit loads better. My issues with the Balrog no longer apply for sure - he totally looks part of the environment now.

Sound - stunning. The Moria bits have a haunting dwarfish chanting in the back ground I had never noticed before but sounds superbly atmospheric on a 5.1 system. No DTS though. The battle in the history bit at the start is also house-shakingly good. Cue wifey shouting at me about neighbours etc...

Now for the negative:

No directors commentary! Boo hiss! Couldn't they just edit the Special Edition's commentary to fit? Lazy...

The extras disc is really aimed at the casual film fan with very little production story type stuff that us geeks enjoy. There are 3 USA TV specials on the film and these are pretty similar, just being story explanation advert things. The Sci Fi channel one is best - don't watch the Fox TV one as its a waste of 25 mins of your life. It is a shame the DVD producers didn't look further afield as there were much better programs on UK channels than the crap the US put out. The BBC did a superb hour long documentary about the Professor himself which would have been a worthwhile addition.

You also have all the little video snippets from the website but I saw these a year ago so no interest to me. They also don't play well on the PlayStation 2. Yes lame - I am using the PS2 to watch LOTR but please forgive me - its the only way I can see Region 1 at the moment ;)

Trailers look and sound great - as do the TV spots.

Then we have a preview of the special edition DVD. It looks great - 2 discs backed with what i want - behind the scenes docs not adverts. There are a few snips of the new scenes as well which all look cool.

Theres also a feature on EAs game but there isn't much to see here to be honest.

So all that leaves us is the 10 mins preview of Two Towers which my best mate has made me promise not to watch until the weekend or he'll spoil the end of 24 for me. I made the wife watch it though and she reports it looks really good but for some reason she has built up the impression that Gollum is sweet so i take her opinion with a pinch of salt. She reckons the helms deep bit looks amazing though.

So there you - if you can wait until Nov I would. Its perhaps my favorite film ever, and I was desperate to see it on DVD, but the disc 2 is disappointing.

7-29-02 Latest News

LOTR Standees & More
Xoanon @ 1:00 pm EST

Uruviel writes: I've been seeing a lot of cardboard displays and posters at several stores and thought I would share these photos with you! These pictures are from Border's & Blockbuster.

7-28-02 Latest News

Tolkien Society's OXONMOOT
Tehanu @ 4:11 pm EST

13th-15th September 2002, St Antony’s College Oxford

Registration: £25 members £30 non-members up to 31 July, £30 members £35non-members 1st August onwards

Oxonmoot is the Tolkien Society’s major social event, providing both our members and the public with the opportunity to gather together and celebrate Tolkien’s life. Originating as an informal gathering of friends to pay their respects to the late Professor Tolkien, it is now one of the country’s longest established events of its kind. Held annually on the weekend closest to the fictional birthday of Bilbo Baggins, the event traditionally takes place in central Oxford, because Tolkien spent much of his
professional life here and his grave is nearby. The exact venue changes periodically, with Oxford colleges a popular choice, as many attendees choose to stay in college accommodation; this will be our third year at St. Antony’s College.

· Tolkien Quiz, a test of memory and reading
· Book Signing Alex Lewis will be signing copies of his and Elizabeth Currie’s book The Uncharted Realms of Tolkien
· Art Show featuring Tolkien illustrator Ted Nasmith, semi-pro fan artist Anke Eissman and contributions from members
· Sales Room featuring Tolkien Society Trading, Sophisticated Games, Daeron’s Books, Rene Van Rossenburg and the Book Wyrm
· Merry & Pippin’s Dance Workshop, a chance to learn a Springle Ring of sorts
· Enyalië, a private ceremony of remembrance

REGISTER ONLINE at www.tolkiensociety

The Bookings Officer (Oxonmoot), 28 Loverock Crescent, Rugby, CV21 4AR, United Kingdom or e-mail bookings@tolkiensociety.org

Oxonmoot Publicity, 26 Loverock Crescent, Rugby, CV21 4AR, United Kingdom or e-mail ocs.publicity@tolkiensociety.org

With some travelling considerable distances to attend, many choose to arrive at the college on Friday afternoon, to settle in, greet old friends, and make some new ones. In the evening, those who have arrived gather for an informal meal at the college, where those new to Oxonmoot can get to know the regulars.

The organised events begin at 9am on Saturday with the Tolkien Quiz, a popular event that has become infamous for the difficulty of the questions. The quiz is open to anyone brave enough, the aim being not to win but to entertain the audience. Following this is a series of talks, some academic, others less serious. Peter Jackson’s recent film adaptation of Lord of the Rings may well be a popular topic this year. Most talks are presented by members of the society, although we have had guest speakers in the past, including other authors for whom Tolkien has been an inspiration. A slide show (which is often surprisingly funny) gives the chance to see artwork inspired by Tolkien from around the world. There will also be workshops, including ‘Merry & Pippin’s Dance Workshop’ put on by a couple of members.
Throughout the day there will an art show displaying the works of both amateur and professional artists such as renowned fan artist Anke Eissman and Tolkien illustrator Ted Nasmith, whose paintings have been used for the illustrated Silmarillion as well as many Tolkien calendars.

There will also be a sales room offering a wide variety of Tolkien related items, ranging from collectors’ editions of Tolkien’s works to merchandising from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation, plus our own Tolkien Society products.

The day finishes with an evening of entertainment, ranging from small sketches and dramatic pieces, to performances from musicians such as The Tolkien Ensemble, a Danish group who have published Tolkien inspired music across Europe. On the Sunday morning there is Enyalië, a service of quiet remembrance
and wreath laying at Tolkien’s Grave, which due to its nature is not open to the media.

The Tolkien Society is an independent educational
charity devoted to furthering interest in the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Founded in 1969 as a small local group, membership has grown to in excess of 1,000. The majority of our members are based in the UK, but many can be found as far afield as Australia and Latin America, and we enjoy close ties with other Tolkien Societies around the globe.

Any queries regarding this Press Release should be addressed to:
Ian Collier, Publicity Officer, 18 Howard Street, Oxford, OX4 3BE e-mail publicity@tolkiensociety.org

Please note that the society is run by volunteers in their spare time.

The Tolkien Society was founded in 1969 to further interest in the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.B.E., the author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and other works of fiction and philological study.Based in the United Kingdom and registered as an independent, non-profit making charity, number 273809, the Society has an international membership which benefits from regular publications and events.

7-26-02 Latest News

Unofficial Frodo Pocket Facial Tissue Paper
Strider @ 3:19 pm EST

We've found it: the worst piece of unofficial merchandise ever whose sole purpose is to cash in on the success of The Fellowship of the Ring. What is it? Well Gollumayee from Singapore has sent in these pictures of..wait for it..the Frodo Pocket Facial Tissue Paper. Ever wondered what Frodo would look like beside Conan the Barbarian and the Grim Reaper? Wonder no more!

'This must take top prize for "worst fake LOTR product": Frodo Pocket Facial Tissue paper! Found it at a neighbourhood sundries shop in Singapore. It costs S$2 (about US$1) for 48 packets. There's no manufacturing info on the packets but it's probably made in Malaysia or Indonesia.

The tissue comes in 2 designs: both have haunted-looking Bagginses and bony "ringwraiths"; one has a pink-and-purple "Gandalf' while the other depicts a green screaming Gandalf/Gimli hybrid beside Conan the Barbarian (Boromir?), and a "palantir"-gazer who definitely doesn't look like Saruman. Please tell me that bow-wielding guy/gal isn't meant to be Legolas! Truly the shadow grows longer...'

New Legolas Stand In Book Stores
Strider @ 2:54 pm EST

Rayvah writes: I was just walking into Barnes & Noble the other day and right in the doorway was a large cardboard stand up of none other than our very own Legolas! Its similar to the Gandalf stand-up that was out last Christmas in design. Except - it's Legolas. The stand up features a cardboard book holder that contains copies of the new cover realease of the Lord of the Rings paperback. Previously, there has been a large Trade Paperback copy of all three books with a ring wraith outlined in blue on the cover.

Recently they released a book with Gandalf on the cover in the same format. It looks very nice! (The book... but, ah, the stand-up too!

raptortalon writes: I work at a Boston area Barnes & Noble Booksellers and I noticed a large cardboard stand-up of Legolas with The Two Towers movie logo. The stand-up display had copies of the LotR in hardcover with a Fellowship movie image of a towering Gandalf in Bag End on the cover.

Media Watch: Empire Talks TTT!
Xoanon @ 1:12 pm EST

Irascian sends along the following scans from the latest issue of Empire Magazine, take a look!

7-25-02 Latest News

The Palantír Before The Animal Logic Magic Touch
Strider @ 5:22 pm EST

Ever marveled at how incredible the Palantir looked when Saruman waved his hand over it in The Fellowship of the Ring? Wondered what material it was made of to achieve that incredible vacuumous black effect? Well judging by an image in the 2002 Cedco day calendar, we have the folks at WETA to thank.

In the two pictures above, the one of the left shows the final shot of the Palantir from The Fellowship of the Ring. However, the picture on the right shows an image that made it into the Cedco 2002 Daily Calendar, the Palant'r looking like a giant pearl and a complete contrast to the one beside it. This suggests that once again WETA have added their magical touch to make The Lord of The Rings and incredible and aesthetically beautiful movie.

Thanks to Calisuri for the Cedco picture!


Brendon sent this follow-up in: I saw the short bit about the Palantír and remembered something from the Cinefex LOTR edition (no. 89). From the magazine (article by Jody Duncan):

"Late in post - with Weta Digital's workload mounting - the production farmed out twenty shots to Animal Logic, an Australian effects house, among them views of Palantir, the black orb through which Saruman communicates with the spirit of Sauron.

'Peter's idea,' said Animal Logic visual effects supervisor Chris Godfrey, 'was that it would appear like an old-age Internet device. It was always meant to have a life of its own, even in its noncommunicating state. On the set, they shot a black obsidian ball, with the idea that something would then be tracked over the top of that. We built up layer upon layer of images, with the outside layer being a cloud effect. We built up texture maps of sparks and spires in a whole range of colours - blues, oranges, reds. We also had to pull reflective colors from outside and blend them in so the ball looked as if it was part of the scene. Our art director, Ian Brown, developed the look for that; and the first time we showed it to Peter he was blown away with it. So we got it on our first try, only having to go in and refine it at that point.'"

So, as much as it pains me to admit (being a full blooded kiwi and all) it was an Australian group of talented individuals that were responsible for this piece of wizardry.

Animal Logic can be found at http://www.animallogic.com. Its a bit of an 'innovative' website (counter-intuitive to navigate) but it does have a film section with an area on LOTR - FOTR - http://www.animallogic.com/film/lotr/index.html. The Cinefex magazine can be bought as a back issue from http://www.cinefex.com/store/backs3.html.

See LoTR: FoTR at Wal-Mart
Demosthenes @ 7:47 am EST

Ford of Rivendell writes:
I was at Wal-Mart today and there are signs and miniature standees all over the place advertising LOTR: FOTR. In the electronics section, at the register I saw a box with the title on there and the release date of August 6th.

On the one side of the box there was a stack of cards, about business card size, that is dark green with gold lettering. It has a picture of the fellowship, like many posters have had and the cover of the DVD, and is surrounded with the engraving of the ring as a border. It gives the title and logo for LOTR: FOTR. On the back it says:

Take this card to the electronics department and scan the UPC (barcode) to see footage from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Journey Begins on DVD and VHS August 6
(and at the bottom the rights for New Line Productions and the UPC)

Which I tried to do but the scanner thing doesn't work there.

Beside it in the box are yellow bags for popcorn that say you can take to the Radio Grill (in Wal-Mart) and get a free bag of popcorn.

Also I asked a nice lady if I could have one of the mini-standees and she told me to go ahead, so I did. It's similar to the picture of the Fellowship traveling, where they are in the foreground with white capped mountains in the background. It also has the logo and says The Journey Begins on DVD and VHS August 6.

Frodos_Girl13 also writes:
Wal-Mart is continuing to give out free stuff, and my grandmother managed to grab this cardboard Frodo display for me. Whether this was only possible because she has clients who work there, I don't know, but I suppose someone could just ask for one....

Play.com DVD Update
Demosthenes @ 6:54 am EST

Lots of people wrote in about play.com and the DVD situation. Apparently Play.com are indeed shipping Region 1 copies of LOTR: FOTR, but only Region 1. People who have Region 2 copies on order are still waiting for their orders to begin processing.

Matt writes:
"My own order is listed as processing, and checking my online bank shows that they have taken the cash out (which they don't do until they ship). They always seem to ship as soon as their stock arrives rather than have it sit their in the warehouse for ages.

Strangely, this only ever happens with R1 DVD's, which seem to arrive at Play some time prior to street date ... whereas their R2 DVD stock tends arrive with them on the street date, and hence arrive a few days late at the final customer. So it's only those who ordered the R1 version from Play that will be getting it within the next couple of days.

Cool :) *big grin*!"

Fergus also adds:

"I use play.com quite a lot. Normally if it says it is in stock they are shipping the item (they often recieve shipments early - especially from the States - and they usually ship as it arrives, instead of waiting until the release date - this is one of the reasons that they are very popular!).

I have pre-ordered mine from there but I ordered the region 2 disc which is still showing as "due on the 6/8/02" My guess is that anyone who ordered the region 1 version will get it very soon!"

Thanks to everyone who wrote in!

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