Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tales of an Ancient Empire


Many years ago, hot on the heels of the Conan the Barbarian movie, there were a whole series of (mainly low budget) sword and sorcery movies released.
One of the better ones, and in my mind one that would have made a far better sequel to the Conan movie than the official sequel, was called The Sword and The Sorcerer (TSATS)! It featured a mainly B-list cast of TV actors and lesser supporting actors, but all the same the final result was a quality fantasy movie that should have received more recognition than it did.
Visually the film was stunning, with excellent set and costume design. Also the special effects were far above the quality of many of it’s competitors. In fact the only thing that let the whole film down was the titular Sword, with it’s triple blades which looked somewhat absurd, and became even more so, when it turned out two of the blades could actually be fired from the sword as some kind of spears!
Anyway, lets move on to the reason for my blog post. Almost 30 years since the release of The Sword and The Sorcerer, the original director Albert Pyun is in the middle of making a sequel, titled Tales of an Ancient Empire! Clearly this sequel will not feature many of the original cast (although Lee Horsley, who was the star of the first film is returning), but as Pyun is returning lets hope that the essence of TSATS can be instilled into the new film.
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The lead role in this film is taken by genre actor Kevin Sorbo, whose previous dabbling with Sword and Sorcery was the lamentable King Kull (and believe me, as a life long Robert E.Howard fan, that one hurt), so lets hope Tales of an Ancient Empire is far above that!

Tales of An Ancient Empire is due to be released sometime in 2010. The official website is already in place and can been seen here.
Thanks to Christopher Mills and his Atomic Pulp blog for alerting me to this film.
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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My first attempt at a Panorama

 

I have not tried stitching photos together before so this is an experiment.

The image is basically just some trees. I used software called Hugin, which is open source, and it seemed to work really well. It was very simple to do and even I can’t see the joins.

There are actually 4 different photos joined for this shot.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Blake's 7:The Early Years

Point of No Return / Eye of the Machine

This is the second release from B7 Media in their Blake's 7 The Early Years series.
A double CD, it features two stories, Point of No Return featuring a young and more or less decent Federation officer called Travis, and Eye of the Machine revolving around Kerr Avon's relationship with Anna Grant and Professor Ensor.

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The first release in this series was When Vila Met Gan, which was somewhat disappointing. The story didn't add up to much more than an interlude in the characters lives and felt somewhat over-priced, which was a shame.

I am much happier with the second set. The value has risen, with the inclusion of the two separate stories and also the plots are more involved and have much more substance. I think it is worth pointing out that there is certainly not much here to interest anyone but the most die-hard of Blake's 7 fans. Both stories relate episodes from the early lives of central characters from the television series and apart from some minor action are mainly concerned with developing their personalities towards those later seen in the TV show.

Point of No Return features Travis as a young officer brought in to investigate a suspected terrorist. By the end of the story he has had to use some rather unsavory techniques to conclude his investigation, but it is not that apparent as to how this basically sympathetic character evolves into the hardened killer (and Servalan's sidekick) that we saw in the TV show.

Eye of the Machine is set around the period that Avon was at university, studying under Professor Ensor. Avon is ripped off by Ensor who steals his theories and generally abuses his position as a senior academic. While all that is happening Avon also falls in love with another student, Anna Grant, who is involved with a radical political movement determined to overthrow the corrupt Federation. Eventually, the different aspects of the story are drawn together and it rounds out the two disc set nicely.

The first release, When Vila Met Gan, did feature one of the original cast members, whereas this set has a wholly new cast, however the quality of acting is excellent and with the cast including, amongst others, Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow, Alien3), Keeley Hawes (Spooks aka MI-5, Ashes to Ashes) and Geoffrey Palmer (Tomorrow Never Dies, Fawlty Towers and too many others to mention), the quality cannot be faulted.  I thoroughly enjoyed both stories and would recommend it to any Blake's 7 fans.

I will have just recently bought the third release (Cally) and will review it shortly.

Below is a full list with a couple of forthcoming releases, including a boxed set of the first four releases containing episodes 1-5 (doesn’t add up I know, but the Travis/Avon set is considered 1.2 and 1.3):-

Product Details

1 / Blake's 7: The Early Years - When Vila Met Gan: 1 (Blake's 7: Early Years) by Ben Aaronovitch (Audio CD - 23 Jun 2008)

Product Details

2 / Blake's 7: The Early Years: Avon / Travis - Point of No Return & Eye of the Machine: 1 by Ben Aaronovitch and James Swallow (Audio CD - 1 Dec 2008)

Product Details 

3 / Blake's 7: Cally - The Early Years: 4 (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt (Audio CD - 24 Aug 2009)

 

Product Details

4 / Blake's 7: Jenna - The Early Years: 5 (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by Simon Guerrier (Audio CD - 30 Nov 2009)

Product Details 

Blake's 7: The Early Years - Box Set Episodes 1-5 by Ben Aaronovitch, James Swallow, and Simon Guerrier (Audio CD - 7 Dec 2009)

Also listed on Amazon.co.uk:-

"Blake's 7": Zen - Escape Velocity 1.6: The Early Years (Blake's 7: the Early Years) by James Swallow (Audio CD - 31 Dec 2009)

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

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