Posts Tagged ‘Vin Diesel will pwn you at AD&D’

Bad Hobbits

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

You know those irritating Orange ads that play in the cinema, in which idiot studio execs attempt to muck about with actors’ “worthy” film projects? There was one a while back in which they pitched a sequel to Lord of The Rings to Sean Astin. The fourth part of the trilogy, featuring Orange phones product placement. Yes yes yes, studio execs are soulless money hungry boneheads. We get it. Very funny.

Of course, Lord of the Rings has a ready made sequel, or prequel, in the form of the more light hearted (and shorter) The Hobbit. Bearing in mind the massive success of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations it was only a matter of time before this went into production, although some of the early reports of this were a little confusing to fans of Tolkien’s books. The word was that there would be two more Middle Earth movies, the first an adaptation of The Hobbit, and the second which would be a new story. This would “bridge the gap” between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, as if that were a gap that ever needed bridging. It was commonly thought that this would use a lot of the information that Tolkien wrote for the LOTR appendices, basically all the backstory of The White Council pissing around in Dol Guldur (yes, I know my Tolkien trivia).

Forget the voice of Saruman, listen to the riffs

However the official line has now changed. There will still be two movies, but they will be two parts of a single adaptation of The Hobbit. Now, even though I was initially uncomfortable with the idea of a movie of what is essentially Middle Earth fanfaction, I can’t help thinking that they should be able to get that story done comfortably in the space of one movie. I mean how long does it need to be?

I have no doubt that any project overseen by fanboy godhead Jackson, with Pan’s Labyrinth creator Guillermo Del Toro (officially the best human ever) in the director’s chair will be nothing short of great, I have to question what is clearly an executive decision to extend the story further than it necessarily needs to go. So with that in mind I am suggesting that they don’t stop there, but go for a series of Hobbit movies. I’m talking franchise, baby!

  • The Hobbit: Reloaded – A “darker, edgier” story, in which leather trenchcoated halflings gun down passers by with semi automatic weaponry to a nu metal soundtrack for no good reason. For 2 hours 45 minutes.
  • The Hobbit: High Voltage – The same as the above but with more strippers.
  • The Hobbit: Requiem of The Fallen – The same violent mayhem but with a pretentious title to hopefully draw in the arthouse crowd.
  • The Hobbit: Curse of The Black Pearl - Post modern pirate based fun. Probably featuring Keira Knightley as a feisty 18th century noblewoman.
  • The Hobbit: Full Throttle – You know what the Middle Earth franchise has been missing? Street racing.
  • The Hobbit: Tokyo Drift - Sequel to the above with none of the original cast.
  • The Hobbit: Electric Boogaloo – Go for some of that High School Musical money. But with orcs.
  • Hobbit! – Long titles probably confuse cinemagoers, so this concept strips it down and returns Middle Earth to its roots, by getting rid of all the gay elf stuff and bringing back Vin Diesel

Either that or reboot Lord of the Rings for a modern (ie. stupid) audience. It’s all about the reboots now! It’s been six years, what’s taking them so long?

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6 Degrees of Francis Bacon Day 7: Venger

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I AM THE WARLOCK!

From Tom Baker, we go to his role in the, let’s be honest, not very good film version of Dungeons & Dragons, and from there we go to the let’s be honest, not very good cartoon of Dungeons & Dragons, and that series’ half Vader half David Warner out of Time Bandits villain, Venger.

The D&D cartoon is fondly remembered by many people, and nostalgic reminiscences about it always lead to the same question. No, they never got home. Actually it was a bit of a weird spin off. A bunch of American teenagers, including Ralph Malph from Happy Days find themselves in a surreal not-very much like D&D world where they are given orders by a grinning Yoda like homonculus , the self styled Dungeon Master. I reckon he was the evil genius pulling the strings, seeing as Venger and Tiamat couldn’t get much done between them.

A backstory for Venger was hinted at, that he was DM’s “fallen apprentice” or son or some such, but in the style of most 80s US cartoons, there wasn’t a lot in the way of character motivation or development, but I like to think that this is a tribute to the big V as it sounds so much like him.

So what next?  Suggestions for something cool to draw can be made here, on my Twitter feed, or at the Facebook Group.

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One Life, Furnished In Early Gygax

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

In an effort to be absolutely as predictable as possible, I’ve decided to get back into role playing games.

As a teenager, I roleplayed a fair amount, with a number of different game systems. We would generally go for games based around licensed properties, so we went for Star Wars, Star Trek, Stormbringer ( based on Michael Moorcock’s Elric books), Judge Dredd, and on one memorable occasion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I guess the main one was Middle Earth Role Playing – I was well and truly on Team Tolkien, and wanted to recreate that world, but I think those rulebooks and supplements (and subsequently, my adventures) were a little dry. Presumably, the designers thought the huge tapestry of world building that J to the R to the R to the T created shouldn’t be besmirched by things like humour, fun, or a teenage boy’s preoccupation with half naked elfmaidens.

There was, however, no such reticence from the creators of the uber RPG, Dungeons & Dragons (or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, if you were doing it right). Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson claimed that Tolkien wasn’t an influence, favouring Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance and Michael Moorcock, although they filched orcs, hobbits and just about everything else from the book.

Although intended to give generic fantasy based rules for the players to pick and choose elements to create their own world (for example, you didn’t necessarily have to include Hippogriffs, Gelatinous Cubes and Type VI Demons in the same adventure), D&D came to be represented by a rather specific setting.

This was due in some part to the art created around the game, by illustrators such as Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley. If Peter Jackson’s Rings movies were a little too clean and styled for you, check out some of the early D&D art – everything looks like a particularly inauthentic Renaissance Fayre, or the cover of Heart’s Little Queen album. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – every fantasy world needs its own feel and I guess they made a conscious decision to be fairly light, rather than dark and gritty. It’s very 80s and very American, unsurprisingly.

Talking of Heart, Dungeons & Dragons, whether it’s Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms, reminds me of when the Americans try to do Progressive Rock – it’s not quite as twiddly or whimsical (or serious) as the likes of Yes and Genesis. It tends to be a bit more straightforward, rockin’ and… well, fun. Maybe that’s where I was going wrong with my Middle Earth campaign. All those lengthy tables of statistics on herbs in the Greater Rhovanion region, and the fact that you couldn’t play a wizard because it might upset the balance of Tolkien’s set in stone history (even though all the game supplements were set two thousand years before LOTR)… it doesn’t amount to much if you can’t kick a goblin in the bollocks and swing out of a Tavern window, whilst cheekily exposing yourself to a sexy cleric.

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