Monday, June 15, 2009

Mary Janes, The Hobbit, Mars, and a new NWN MMO

Time for an update on entertainment news that has piqued my interest...

It has been confirmed that Kirsten Dunst will in fact be returning to the role of Mary Jane in Spider-Man 4 (IMDb). Tobey Maguire had already agreed to return for a fourth and fifth installment of the blockbuster franchise, but director Sam Raimi had said Dunst was reluctant to sign on for the threequel sequels. They are still looking for the perfect villain, with producer Todd Black saying "Trust me - people will appreciate who we pick, because it'll be a big part of New York." I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean... the villain will be the Empire State Building? Anyway, the third Spider-Man movie was a tad disappointing, so I hope they can pick it back up and make the fourth one good again.

Speaking of Spider-Man, we mustn't forget about Spider-Man: The Musical (more properly called Spider Man, Turn Off the Dark). Turns out that Evan Rachel Wood is going to star as Mary Jane in the stage musical, after all (IMDb). First there were substantial rumors that Wood (who worked with Spider-Man: The Musical's director Julie Taymor in the movie musical Across the Universe) had been cast, then Taymor denied this saying that she was still working on casting MJ, and now this. Apparently Peter Parker has yet to be cast.

Everyone kind of already assumed that this would happen, but Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, and Ian McKellen have all been confirmed for the cast of The Hobbit, reprising their roles as Elrond, Gollum, and Gandalf, respectively (IMDb). We are still awaiting to hear who will play the titular hobbit Bilbo himself (Ian Holm, who played Bilbo in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, is too old to come back for the younger prequel role, unlike the other three whose ageless or semi-ageless roles let them get away with it). Here's hoping director Guillermo del Toro finds someone great. I'm a bit anxious waiting.

Wolverine stars Taylor Kitsch (Gambit) and Lynn Collins (Kayla Silverfox) are both set to star in Walt Disney Pictures' John Carter of Mars, a fantasy epic based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs series that began with the novel "The Princess of Mars" in 1911 (Variety). Wall-E writer-director Andrew Stanton will be directing the film as his first live-action pic. The story is about a damaged Civil War veteran named John Carter (Kitsch) who is mysteriously transported to Mars where his interactions with the warring races of the dying planet, which presumably include meeting the Princess of Mars (Collins), help him to rediscover his humanity. I don't know what to think of the casting (I actually haven't seen the Wolverine movie yet), but I have great respect for Stanton (I loved Wall-E) and the period-piece-meets-sci-fi-epic aspect of the project is very intriguing. I'll be watching for this one.

Lastly, in gaming news, recent Atari acquisition Cryptic Studios is working on developing an MMO for Atari property Neverwinter Nights (Variety blog). This is really big news for me. For those who don't know, Cryptic Studios is the company behind (among other games) Champions Online, the game currently in its beta testing stage that recently became the first MMO I had ever played. Neverwinter Nights is a Dungeons & Dragons-based Forgotten Realms-set series of computer RPGs. I played through the single-player campaigns of NWN and its two official expansions as well as NWN2 and one of its expansions. But one of the most distinctive features of the Neverwinter Nights series, which I never took advantage of, was the multiplayer component that allowed players to design their own missions in their own persistent worlds--essentially hosting their own mini-MMOs (would these be called "not-so-massively multiplayer online" games or something?). Anyway, there were plenty of people who did take advantage of this feature, making NWN quite a popular success. The news that a proven MMO developer is planning to create an MMO for Neverwinter Nights is intriguing indeed, though they have a tough road ahead of them, since even MMOs based on strong franchises sometimes fail to catch on. Word is they are hoping for a 2011 release... 'round 'bout the time that BioWare is planning to release The Old Republic (more history for those who aren't gamer geeks: BioWare, which developed the original NWN but not the sequel, will not be involved in the NWN MMO). I'd say I see conflict ahead, but I'm already fairly certain I'd pick TOR if forced to choose. But there's time. We'll see how the NWN MMO develops.


Sebastian said...

Yar, NWN was actually one of the first ever MMOs -- but we're talking back in the 80s. The franchise had lain dormant until the recent'ish revival (which we would call simply 'a multiplayer game' :P Though I think they tried to call it something else when it was being marketed...)

I wouldn't get too excited about the NWN MMO, unless Cryptic Studios have something up their sleeve -- but if they are producing it for the 'mighty confrontation' in 2011 between Blizzard, BioWare and whoever else brings titles to the table... we'll see!

I'm yet to see Wolverine either. Terminator 4 has used up my current allotment of Summer Action Film credits (NAKED ARNIE!!)

And now... bed.

Eleni said...

Meh, "multiplayer game" sounds like Super Mario Bros. or GoldenEye or whatever and doesn't quite capture the persistent-world-capable-of-hosting-up-to-75-players aspect of it. But I hadn't heard of the AOL NWN MMORPG (can I string any more abbreviations together?) released in 1991. Interesting.

I wouldn't say I have high hopes for the NWN MMO, but it certainly bears mentioning.

Yeah, May was one big blockbuster after another: Wolverine, Star Trek, Angels and Demons, Terminator 4... All I saw was Star Trek. Almost saw Terminator 4 but then backed out.