Asheron’s Call – The Talla’Karan Heart

It all began on a dark night… some 21 years ago that I would find myself in a heroic fantasy realm as a Gharu’ndim War Mage named Shai Ilu. Much fun we had, no manuals, no online guides, a confusingly mysterious spell system with scarabs, herbs and tapers where no one could figure out how to cast anything let alone an all powerful Acid Wave AoE spell, all except one player, who had unlocked that secret.

Knowledge was truly power in Asheron’s Call back then and it was coveted and only shared among initiates, which could mean winning a PvP battle or losing it, esp. if one from your own ranks betrayed you.

As with Ultima Online before Asheron’s Call had it all and then some, including dying to a mob somewhere out in the Gharu desert and then trying to find your corpse for hours so you could get back all your stuff, before anyone else had the chance to loot it. No corpse marker, no nothing. Just running around, searching sand dune after sand dune. I will never forget the moment I finally found it, with all the stuff still there. Maybe you can relate, if you only know today’s MMOs you maybe don’t. That’s OK. I wouldn’t want to do that again either.

I have stumbled across old screenshots and lo and behold also one of my stories that Microsoft published back then in 2001 on their now defunct Microsoft Zone Player Chronicles: The Talla’Karan Heart.

Here’s a screenshot of our guild headquarters on Thistledown, including our very own sparring dungeon.

Our Guild Headquarters on Thistledown, 2001

Oh yes, fun was had. While Asheron’s Call is no more since 2017, I would wager a remastered version would do quite well, esp. with all those remastered titles popping up left and right these days.

I have also found some old Ultima Online screenshots, but that’s for another time…

Twin Peaks – Definitive Gold Box Edition (2007)

Twin Peaks Definitive Gold BoxWhen “Twin Peaks” aired in 1990 no one thought it would have much of a chance as a TV show and even today one must wonder why or how it did become such a phenomenon. Was it because of the cherry pie and the fine cuppa Jo? Was it because the mystery of Laura Palmer’s murder kept people coming back to “Twin Peaks” each week? Was it Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) messages to Diane on his Dictaphone? And who the hell is Bob?

“Twin Peaks” was and still is full of mysteries, mysteries that will never be answered. Some of them should have better remained unanswered but such is life, you seek the answer until you finally get it and then you move on. And what about Laura Palmer’s murderer? You really needed to know, didn’t you? I won’t spoil it for you here, so read on!

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HBO to produce “A Song of Ice & Fire”

HBO has acquired the rights to produce a television series “A Song of Ice & Fire” (2008) based on George R. R. Martin’s best-selling books. The series will be written and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. [ source ]

If any Cable Network could pull off a Fantasy series based on George R. R. Martin’s books it is HBO. I only hope that the budget is calculated accordingly and that there is no cancelling as there was for Deadwood or Rome. Despite these recent letdowns, I honestly think there is no better choice than HBO for this series. HBO subscribers will have to wait quite some time though to enjoy this gritty and epic fantasy tale of intrigue and murder on screen in 2008.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)Guillermo del Toro’s movie “Pan’s Labyrinth” is set in fascist Spain in 1944 where a young girl Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) escapes the brutal and sadistic reality by entering an eerie fantasy world in which she must complete three tasks in order to be freed and be able to return as princess to her underworld kingdom.

Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) to a remote outpost headed by Vidal (Sergi López) her stepfather and evil, sadistic capitán, hellbent to quell all rebellious activities once and for all.

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The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige (2006)Christopher Nolan’s film “The Prestige” (2006) is an adaptation of Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name about two magician friends who become mortal enemies. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) stands trial in turn-of-the-century London for the murder of Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and faces the gallows. The story is set up as all tricks in three parts: The Pledge, the Turn and the Prestige. Only at the end will we find out the truth.

We are taken back into the year 1887 when both Alfred and Angier were still friends and assisting a magician on stage. During one of the shows Angier’s wife Julia has a fatal accident and Angier blames Borden for her death.

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A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin was introduced to me by one of my colleagues last year and I put it on my “to read” list pile. One week ago, I finally started to read “A Game of Thrones” and I knew after the first few chapters that this was going to be a good read indeed and when I came to the chapter “Tyrion” I knew for sure that this is going to be just great.

I just finished “A Game of Thrones” and managed to order the remaining parts just in time so I can continue with “A Clash of Kings” and that is what I am going to do right now. There is no time to write a lengthy review on a fantasy epos that you simply have to experience for yourself. The dragon is awake!

Blade – The Series (2006)

Blade the Series

For some obscure reason “Blade” (1998) was the first film I owned on DVD followed by “The Matrix” (1999). I subsequently also saw “Blade II” (2002) and “Blade Trinity” (2004) but was ultimately disappointed by the sequels. Spike TV now airs “Blade – The Series” and hopes to attract its viewers to this too cool to be true “Terminator of Vampires”. They call him Daywalker, neither human nor vampire, a half-breed.

Let us be honest, whenever you think about this character, you see Wesley Snipes, there’s just no getting around the fact that he kicked some major Vampire ass. Now, Kirk ‘Sticky Fingaz’ Jones, besides having a rather silly nick name, tries to live up to that figure as much as he possibly can but it is just not enough.

The acting of the cast aside, this show does not set new standards as far production design or CGI is concerned. Quite the opposite, it rehashes special effects on every possible occasion and uses prostheses whenever feasible, only that they are recognizable as such most of the time which rather kills any suspension of disbelief you might be willing to invest somewhere along the ludicrous story line. Vampire Ash as a designer drug? That is not only ludicrous but also immensely boring.

Nevertheless, it is Blade and people want Blade, they want it so badly that it does not matter if the show sucks or not, well at least for now it doesn’t. Everybody keeps hoping that it will get better eventually. I do not see that happen any time soon.

Live-Action Warcraft Movie Coming to Big Screen

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT® AND LEGENDARY PICTURES TO PRODUCE LIVE-ACTION WARCRAFT® MOVIE!

The news is over at blizzard.com. Check it out! Warcraft is coming to the big screen. What can I say? The Dark Portal awaits!

Here’s a speculative cast list for Warcraft (2011), characters linked to wowwiki.com and actors linked to their respective imdb.com site:

Aegwynn…………………………………Rebecca Romijn
Arthas Menethil………………………Brandon Routh
Garona……………………………………Charlize Theron
Grom Hellscream……………………Michael Clarke Duncan
Illidan Stormrage……………………Edward Norton
Jaina Proudmoore…………………Angelina Jolie
Kael’thas Sunstrider………………Marton Csokas
Kel’Thuzad………………………………Sala Baker
Lord Aedelas Blackmoore………Hugo Weaving
Malfurion Stormrage………………Gary Oldman
Medivh……………………………………Johnny Depp
Sylvanas Windrunner……………Milla Jovovich
Thrall………………………………………Vin Diesel
Tyrande Whisperwind……………Kate Blanchett
Uther Lightbringer…………………Eric Bana

…again this is not a real cast list. It is speculative. If you want to speculate, too, feel free to leave a comment.

Update: Sam Raimi just signed on as director! (source)

Update (8/5/2010): Brandon Routh interested in Warcraft movie

Supernatural is super

I stumbled upon this gritty witch hunt-like series called “Supernatural” (WB) by accident and was drawn right into it. The mix of “Ghost Busters” like humor, the Eighties rock music, the forlorn brothers on a never ending road trip theme, eager to torch that bad ass demon that killed their mother Mary, is hard to resist and on top of it offers all the thrills and spills you’d expect from a series dabbling in ancient folklore, mysticism, demonolgy and the paranormal in general.

Supernatural 1x01
“Supernatural” (1×01) – Mary must burn (3 mins. into the pilot)

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

lion_witch_wMany have read C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and now even more people have seen it. There has been a BBC production in the 80s but they did not have the CGI power of WETA at their disposal to make this tale come alive. Aslan (spoken by Liam Neeson) is simply amazing and so are any and all fairy creatures in this movie.

The costumes are stunningly beautiful, too and everything is just … shiny; too shiny in fact. So shiny that the scenes emit sterility and suffocate any real emotion. Emotion wise the movie also suffers slightly under the crux of child actors such as Lucy who only have one expression on their face even when crying. It is understandable that Georgie Henley was swept away by all this and the work on set must have been overwhelming for her and it shows throughout the movie, esp. when she leans her head on the dead Aslan and cries.

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