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Lord of the Rings

David Bowie Gandalf photo
David Bowie Gandalf

David Bowie was considered for Gandalf in Lord of the Rings but didn't audition

Gandalf was Maiar, jamming good with...
Dec 19
// Hubert Vigilla
David Bowie's passing was one of many painful deaths in 2016. In the aftermath, we reported that Bowie auditioned for The Lord of the Rings. While Bowie was considered to play Gandalf in the film, it turns out he never really...
J.R.R. Tolkien biopic photo
J.R.R. Tolkien biopic

J.R.R. Tolkien biopic Middle Earth coming from producers of Lord of the Rings

Hope it's not hours of battle scenes
Nov 07
// Hubert Vigilla
To put it politely, The Hobbit films were underwhelming. Yes, they were extremely successful at the box office, but that trio of movies was bloated filmmaking at its most bloated. They had nothing on The Lord of the Rings Tri...
David Bowie LOTR photo
David Bowie LOTR

David Bowie auditioned for Lord of the Rings

The Man Who Fell to Middle-Earth
Jan 29
// Hubert Vigilla
Following the death of David Bowie, more and more information has surfaced about his works in progress and his past projects. Up until his passing, the man was writing new songs. He has multiple posthumous albums set for rele...
Jackson on Hobbit woes photo
Jackson on Hobbit woes

Peter Jackson talks problems making The Hobbit, didn't have enough prep time

"Didn't know what the hell I was doing"
Nov 19
// Hubert Vigilla
The Hobbit trilogy made roughly $3 billion worldwide, but it was also a bloated disappointment that felt nowhere near as taut as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The writing wasn't there, the special effects seemed less polishe...

Minas Tirith LOTR photo
Minas Tirith LOTR

There's an Indiegogo campaign to make a life-sized Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings

60-day goal: $2.9 billion
Aug 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Have you ever wanted to live in Minis Tirith from Lord of the Rings? A city glistening white, carved from a mountain, its great citadel high above the main gate overlooking the fallen capital Osgiliath and the windswept Pelen...

RIP Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Jun 11 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219552:42431:0[/embed]   And, of course... [embed]219552:42432:0[/embed]
The legend was 93 years old
Sir Christopher Lee has passed away at the age of 93. Lee died in the hospital on Sunday, June 7th, though word of his passing has only reached news outlets today. According to several reports, this was at the request of Lee'...

Hobbit Trailer photo
Basically a three hour fight scene
While the previous two Hobbit films have been great I don't think they really lived up to the grandeur of the Lord of the Rings films. However, with this new full length trailer landing for The Hobbit: The Battle o...


George Orwell‘s Animal Farm Hitting the Big screen 2014

May the Mo Cap flow.
Dec 09
// Michael Jordan
George Orwell‘s Animal Farm is going to be adapted by Andy Serkis and the power of Mo-Cap, set to be released in 2014. The name should ring a bell from his work in Lord of the Rings, Rise of the...

See The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug early and free

Washington DC and Baltimore screening
Dec 02
// Matthew Razak
After The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey turned out to be fun, but chock full of needless padding it became clear that it might not have been the best idea to stretch the book out into three films. However, it's still eas...

Peter Jackson's Hobbit back in production for pick ups

The cast and crew have reuinited for a few more weeks of shooting
May 20
// Hubert Vigilla
It's been a little while since we last heard about the next two Hobbit movies, The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again. Even though I had some issues with The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey (Matt, like the majority of...

The Hobbit: There and Back Again delayed to December 2014

Peter Jackson's trilogy capper moves from summer to winter
Mar 01
// Hubert Vigilla
When The Hobbit went from a pair of movies to a trilogy, the original plan was to release The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 12, 2012, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on December 13, 2013, and The Hobbit: There...

Mondo to release 2 new LOTR posters tomorrow

Jan 23
// Liz Rugg
Mondo continues to deliver the highest quality of specially made movie posters with two new Lord of the Rings posters that they will be debuting tomorrow. The first is titled Precious Cargo by comic artist Paolo Rivera. The s...

Featurettes on sound and visual effects in The Hobbit

Dec 18
// Hubert Vigilla
While I had issues with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for its flabby storytelling, the film has set the box office on fire and I did at least appreciate lots of choices in production design. These two feat...

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Dec 13 // Matthew Razak
[embed]214047:39314[/embed] The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyDirector: Peter JacksonRated: PG-13Release Date: December 14, 2012  As you've probably heard, Peter Jackson has stretched the story of what is a decently short children's book into three epic films. The plot of the original book is the story of an adventure Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) goes on in which he just happens to find the ring that causes all the trouble in The Lord of the Rings. It's a much smaller tale with massive implications in the world of Middle Earth, but the plot of the book and film really have a very basic fantasy story line: the quest to kill a dragon. You can read The Hobbit easily in a day (and really should have already done it) so I won't go too into detail on the plot, but the film stays pretty faithful to the story of the book, but it's really less than the first third of the story. [spoilers] By the end of the movie they haven't even made it to Dale. [/spoilers] Jackson took the opportunity afforded him by three films to make this first film into a lot more than the book, pulling in characters everyone will easily recognize from the previous trilogy even if they weren't even mentioned in the book. There's a lot of background story going on here that a children's book just doesn't dive into, but any fan of Tolkien will love to death. Of course this means a whopping two hour and 40 minute running time, but if you enjoy being in Middle Earth that shouldn't be an issue. There's definitely times when Jackson could have easily cropped the film down -- like when we randomly flash forward to Frodo for no apparent reason than to reestablish that this is indeed a movie that is connected to the previous movies -- but Jackson's Middle Earth is so complete and wonderfully detailed that spending too much time in it might be impossible.  The Hobbit is definitely a bit more fun than The Lord of the Rings. This, of course, is partly because of the subject matter, but it feels like everyone involved was a bit more laid back this time around. The film plays visual gags and slapstick far more often and while there's plenty of sweeping panoramas and truly epic moments everything is a bit more down to earth. Jackson does a very good job of balancing the lighter feeling of the film with the in-depth world that was already created. There's definitely hints at the serious nature of everything going on, but the childlike wonder of adventure and action is what really shines. A big part of that is the dwarves. Led by Thorin (Richard Armitage), they're pretty much the classic gang of misfit warriors presented in every film (there's even a fat one and two goofy twins). If that little detail doesn't convince you that the film is a bit more lighthearted than a mention of a musical number where the dwarves sing and put away dishes should push you over. While the lighter tone is something to be appreciated it does at times conflict with the already established world from the previous films. This is an issue the books had as well, and for the most part Jackson avoids the film feeling at odds. However, every once in a while you're sucked out of the story because the film is being oddly childish. The action this time around is superb, especially an escape sequence through an orc infested cave. This escape was definitely in the book, but it's nowhere near as thrilling as it is in the film. It's one of the most stunning action sequences I've seen in a while, and is especially impressive since it packs both humor and wonder together while somehow keeping track of a plethora of dwarves and a wizard kicking butt. It's not the only action sequence either, and all of them stand out strong. Unlike the previous films The Hobbit doesn't have any giant wars or epic showdowns (yet) in terms of action. But it shines elsewhere thanks to some fantastic dialog and adherence to the wittier parts of the book. The classic scene of the three arguing ogres is both funny and charming, but it's Bilbo's riddle showdown with Gollum (Andy Serkis) that really steals the show. Somehow Serkis combines humor, evil and insanity into a ten minute performance that would have won him an Oscar if he hadn't been digitally animated. The showdown between him and Bilbo is a lesson in pacing a scene that could have fallen horribly flat, but instead outshines almost every other aspect of the film. This is as it should be considering what the end result of their game of riddles is, but it's fantastic that Jackson, Serkis and Freeman so clearly cared about it. Now for what you've all been waiting for (I put it here so you'd read the rest). High Frame Rate (HFR) is absolutely stunning visually, but until you get used to watching it it will take you out of the movie and annoy the heck out of you. After seeing the movie in 48 fps I don't think I could watch it any other way, but it took me about an hour to stop seeing things sped up, especially during action sequences. Once I stopped: wow. Just wow. If you think you've seen a sweeping vista, you haven't. If you think you've been amazed by an elaborate action set piece, you're wrong. If you don't think this is the future of film then you're mistaken. Everything looks absolutely stunning, except for the sets, which now often look like plastic. What does that mean? It means set makers need to step their game up because when the movie isn't on a set it's too gorgeous to not become the norm. For fans of Tolkein and the previous films this is more of what you want, but on a much smaller scale with a handful of humor tossed in. It definitely doesn't feel as grand or epic as the previous films, but that's a good thing. This is a different story told in a different manner, and clearly separates itself from its predecessors. What it does (establish the basis for the upcoming story) it does well, even if it could have done it just as easily with thirty minutes less footage. The extra content that makes what could have been one film into three isn't really needed, but it's hard to be angry about getting to spend more time in this world. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may have had a lot of obstacles in its way, but it succeeds in being an entertaining and thoroughly watchable movie. It may not be the story the book told in content and tone, but it's the story it had to be... plus 30 minutes. Hubert Vigilla: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a great two-hour adventure movie that's unfortunately almost three hours long. There's so much flab in film, and it's easy to spot. If Lord of the Rings was young Jake LaMotta, The Hobbit is old Jake LaMotta. There are middling monologues that repeat the film's themes of home and belonging, there are redundant scenes that should have been nixed, and there's even a small council at Rivendell that feels like a mid-week staff meeting. Throughout that scene, Gandalf sits, Saruman sits and drones, Elrond stands, and Galadriel paces very slowly. It made me appreciate the expedience of Lord of the Rings. When the film gets going, it's a rip-roaring adventure that's all swashbuckling and hack and slash, which is probably what the film would have felt like if The Hobbit remained a two-movie tale. But even these moments get undermined by bad comic relief, especially from the zany hippie-dippy druid Radagast the Brown. There are also a lot of winks to previous Lord of the Rings films meant as some sort of visual callback, but it feels shoehorned in and robs the film of its own sense of freshness, much like the references in the Star Wars prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. This first Hobbit movie isn't all bad -- the best scene and one of the few that is lean and compelling throughout is the "Riddles in the Dark" segment -- but it's just a needlessly bloated movie. Maybe in the next two films, Jackson can focus on the adventure rather than trying to hit an epic-length runtime. 60 - Decent
Middle Earth is far from middling
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in a really tough spot. The film is the follow up to what is pretty much the most epic trilogy in film history. Plus, being based on a children's book and having a smaller story ...


13-minute featurette on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

New footage of Peter Jackson and company in this behind-the-scenes video
Dec 07
// Hubert Vigilla
We're one week away from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and if you're looking for some new footage to get you hyped, here's a 13-minute featurette for the film via Warner Bros. Belgium. It's got loads of new stuff, inclu...

New Hobbit TV spot and Entertainment Weekly covers

Dec 06
// Hubert Vigilla
For some reason it hasn't quite dawned on me that I'll be seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey next week at midnight. The original Lord of the Rings Trilogy came out when I was in college, and I remember going to the mid...

New Hobbit TV spot has brief glimpses of Smaug

Dec 03
// Hubert Vigilla
The latest TV spot for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey features a few scant shots of Smaug. And I mean very scant. He just swoops in and destroys stuff, sort of like what he did in the Star Trek Into Darkness poster this m...

The Hobbit midnight IMAX posters; stream the film score

Nov 30
// Hubert Vigilla
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be out in two weeks, if you can believe it. And so the hype machine continues with a new TV spot and lots of other keen things. First of all, if you're attending a midnight 3D IMAX scre...

Latest Hobbit video blog chronicles post-production

Nov 26
// Hubert Vigilla
It's crunch time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. (Not to be confused with second diabetes time.) With the release date looming, Peter Jackson and his Weta Workshop hordes are hustling to finish the picture. This lates...

150 Hobbit pics/Neil Finn's "Song of the Lonely Mountain"

Plenty of behind-the-scenes photos and the end credits song
Nov 12
// Hubert Vigilla
As if the 17 character posters weren't excessive enough, we now have 150 behind-the-scenes Hobbit pics to share with you. Thankfully this is in an embedded gallery rather than individual uploads. (Creating a click-through gal...

New Hobbit TV spot and images are pretty to look at

Nov 06
// Nick Valdez
As a companion to the other news for The Hobbit that moved at 48 frames per second, we have some new, and pretty, images for the upcoming film (in the gallery below). One of the notable images caught Hugo Weaving in his norm...

17 character posters for The Hobbit... yeah, buddy, 17

That's a lot of the droolz
Nov 05
// Hubert Vigilla
There's overkill and there's überoverkill. When it comes to new posters for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we've achieved the latter. There were 17 character posters released last week. Yeah, 17, also known as a dumb...

New Hobbit TV spot be mad trolling

Oct 29
// Hubert Vigilla
A second TV spot has showed up for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It's a nice companion piece to the first Hobbit TV spot, though in this one we get to see some talking trolls. This makes me wonder if any of the trolls i...

There's a Hobbit-themed menu at Denny's for some reason

Oct 26
// Hubert Vigilla
One year way back when I was an undergrad, I spent a lot of time at Denny's in the wee hours of the morning. It was close to my dorm, it was quiet enough, and it made for great people-watching. Example: one of the waitresses...

The Hobbit extended edition coming late 2013

Oct 05
// Hubert Vigilla
Remember when Peter Jackson put out the extended editions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King a year after each of their respective theatrical releases? It's going to happen again with Th...

Ten new photos for The Hobbit arrive online

Jul 03
// Liz Rugg
Entertainment Weekly has released ten new photos for Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We get a good look at a bunch of the character, including the returning Ian McKellen as Gandalf, ...

Hobbit video blog gives a tour of Stone Street studios

Jun 06
// Hubert Vigilla
A new video blog has emerged for The Hobbit. This one gets away from the vast sheeplands of New Zealand and heads to controlled environs of Stone Street studios. Originally a paint factory, Peter Jackson bought the location ...

From Hell: Lord of the Rings With The Beatles

Feb 27 // Hubert Vigilla
When Gandalf is vanquished, the text is 'He fell beyond time and memory.' We puzzled about how you put that on film. -- John Boorman (quoted in Tales from Development Hell) How serious do you think The Beatles were about doing Lord of the Rings together, especially since the end of the band was looming by the time United Artists got the film rights? Could the One Ring have bound them all? David Hughes: I very much doubt it! (I also doubt that I can resist a "One Ringo to Rule Them All" pun.) It was probably one of dozens of film projects they flirted with during their anything-not-to-get-bored phase. But you cannot read the chapter of the book without picturing John as Gollum saying "Me precious." Any idea who Yoko would have played? I suspect she would have told John not to be so silly and that would be that. If Lord of the Rings With The Beatles did get made, would you rather have seen the animated Heinz Edelmann version or the live-action John Boorman version? Where films are concerned that's usually a good question, however I look at it like this: would I rather have seen Timothy West's King Lear, or the Croatian-language production with Rade Serbedzija (the costume shop proprietor from Eyes Wide Shut), or the new revival with Gladiator's John Shrapnel? The answer is, of course, I'm glad all of those productions, and many more, existed -- I wouldn't even consider Peter Jackson's version to be definitive.   more tales from Hell to come... *          *          * David Hughes is the author of Tales from Development Hell, The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made, The Complete Kubrick, and The Complete Lynch. He is also co-author of Farscape: The Illustrated Companion with Paul Simpson, and has written about film for The Guardian, Empire, GQ, and numerous publications.

[This week we'll be looking at a few movies mentioned in Tales from Development Hell by David Hughes (Titan Books). The book chronicles the arduous and at times absurd development process that films go through, often leading ...

Flix for Short: The Hobbit (1966)

Jan 11 // Hubert Vigilla

Long thought lost, Gene Deitch's 1966 adaptation of The Hobbit has made its way online. This beautiful and at times psychedelic 12-minute short is like looking through an older relative's favorite picture books. "We had take...


RIP Bob Anderson: Princess Bride, Star Wars sword master

Jan 02
// Hubert Vigilla
Olympic fencer, sword master, and stunt performer Bob Anderson passed away yesterday in an English hospital. He was 89 years old. In his decades in the film industry, Anderson worked with Errol Flynn, helped with stunts and a...

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