Tales of an Anciet Empire

The 80s was a wonderful period for of those of you who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, as sword & sorcery fantasy films were frequently being made and released. Most have been, of course, relegated to "cult film" status these days, but it is truly a shame that the genre as a whole all but disappeared for the past 20 years. That is...until Peter Jackson proved that interest in fantasy films has lain dormant, ready to be awakened.

Now, "fantasy epics" are being greenlit by many studios. Among these, a small little film is being made in the spirit that existed back in fantasy films' heyday. The title, Tales of an Ancient Empire, should be familiar to any of you who know of one of the classic films of 80s fantasy, The Sword and the Sorcerer, a brisk, high adventure film that was unapologetic about its masculinity & chauvinism; the fantastic three-bladed sword wielded by the hero, Talon (played by Lee Horsley), featured in the title was an immediate allure for the genre's fans. The film ended promising further adventures of Talon in an upcoming film called Tales of an Ancient Empire. Then the fantasy bubble burst.

Flash forward to today as The Sword and the Sorcerer's original director, Albert Pyun, is busy in post-production on the long promised sequel. Naturally, the previous film's hero, Talon, is now too old to continue the adventures, so a new, young band of warriors lead by Kevin Sorbo of TVs "Hercules" series, will take the reigns as Talon's children. Albert Pyun has recently been releasing clips of the unfinished film on his Vimeo site, letting fans in to the process, revealing rough cuts of scenes. It is a brilliant bit of marketing, giving fans snippets to wet their appetites in addition to serving as a promotional tool to attract new fans unfamiliar with the original film. Beyond this, however, the clips reveal the important role editing plays in filmmaking. By viewing the scenes Pyun has made available, one can get a sense of how performances can be shaped, mood manipulated, and potential script inconsistencies or problems fixed or circumvented. They also reveal how music, sound, and other crafts related to the process complete the experience.

The first scene released is a simple conversation scene between the two leads, Sorbo, and Melissa Ordway. As the very first glimpse at footage from the film, the scene confidently quells personal worries that the film would lose something in the "mists of time" as sensibilities have certainly changed in the last 20 years. This feels like a sword and sorcery film and more importantly, it still feels like The Sword and the Sorcerer. I think it is safe to say that had Pyun not directed this sequel, I think the sensation would be quite different.

You can view 3 other clips (and I assume more are to follow) at Pyun's Vimeo site by clicking here. I look forward to seeing the difference between these rough cuts and their final iteration in the released film. With a rumored sequel to another 80s cult favorite, Hawk the Slayer, going in to production, fantasy adventures might just be making a comeback. Fingers crossed...



Morgan Freeman. Matt Damon. "In a Clint Eastwood film." I don't think any more need be said. Watch the trailer now over at Apple, preferably in HD.


The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a new period adventure that Luc Besson would be helming. Now, the first official image for the film as been released.

It may be small, but it is at least a glimpse of the visual adaptation of the French comic. The cast has also been revealed by Europa Corp. Louise Bourgoin (The Girl from Monaco) takes on the titular role of Adele Blanc-Sec. A relative newcomer with only a few films under her belt, she is mostly known for her alluring looks and obvious sex appeal. It will be interesting to see how she takes on a "flapper-esque" liberated woman at the turn of the century. Rounding out the cast are Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace / The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Gilles Lellouche (Mesrine: L'instinct de mort), and Jean Paul Rouve (La môme). With any luck production stills of the cast in their roles will be released in the near future. Needless to say, my excitement for this project continues to grow.


Russian Fantasy

If you want more proof of the dedication and production savvy Russia has been displaying lately, check out this clip from the upcoming, Disney produced fantasy film, Kniga Masterov. Definitely epic in scope with a solid sense of production design and effects visualization.


Edge of Darkness

This one debuted yesterday. It's good seeing Mel Gibson doing the "tough guy" thing again. His performance in Payback--and the film itself for that matter--are highly underrated. Naturally, comparisons are already being made to the surprise hit Taken but they are inaccurate. As stated before, Taken is more of a "search & destroy" film while Edge of Darkness is more the classic revenge film. Remember, one of the daughters in these films is still alive! Some uninformed commenters on various sites have also accused this film of ripping the concept of Taken. Again, this is inaccurate as Edge of Darkness is actually a film adaptation of a BBC television series from 1985.
The director of that series is also at the helm of the film version: Martin Campbell. Given his outstanding work in Casino Royale, the onscreen fireworks tantalized in the trailer below should be quite thrilling. Sizzling with subtly menacing lines, kudos must also be given to the script as well with Ray Winstone looking to have most of the meatier dialogue. Looking forward to this one very much.