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Prancing Pony original craftwork inspired by Middle-earth

Prancing Pony mugsWe’re getting closer to the “One Dragon, One Party”! As part of this special event, we’ll be holding a live auction and raffle with unique items we hope all attendees will enjoy. We’re excited to highlight a generous auction donation from talented artist Sean Robinson.

For our party, Sean has donated one 20 ounce green mug and one 24 ounce brown mug featuring a Prancing Pony medallion. Both mugs are dishwasher, oven and microwave safe. They are thrown with a mid-fire stoneware clay and the medallion is washed with iron oxide to bring out the details.
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Posted in Creations, Events, Fans, One Dragon, One Party, Oscar Parties

Visual Effects Society Nominations Announced

headThe Visual Effects Society have announced their nominations for the 12th annual VES Awards. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” has earned 5 nominations and will going up against its toughest competition “Gravity”. “Gravity” received 8 nominations over “The Desolation of Smaug”. Although, the mighty Smaug is the likely favorite to win Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture. Has there ever been a more magnificent dragon on screen before? See below for “The Desolation of Smaug” nominations or view all of the nominations.
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Posted in Events, Headlines, Other Events, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ receives 2 BAFTA nominations

Desolation of Smaug Poster The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced their annual award nominations this morning. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ picked up 2 nominations. Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, and Rick Findlater are nominated for Best Make-up and Hair. They are nominated alongside worthy contenders ‘The Butler’, ‘Behind the Candelabra’, ‘American Hustle’, and ‘The Great Gatsby’. Each film has its own unique style or time period, whether set in Middle-earth or a fantastical version of the roaring 20′s. The overall awards buzz (and love) for ‘American Hustle’ might swing momentum its way even in this category.

Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and Eric Reynolds are nominated for Best Special Visual Effects. In this tough field, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ is going up against ‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Iron Man 3′ and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’. Smaug the Mighty is facing the most competition from the groundbreaking effects in ‘Gravity’, the odds-on favorite. ‘Gravity’ has the most nominations with 11 overall including for Best Film and Director. Following behind are ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘American Hustle’ with 10 nominations each.

See the full list of nominees.

Posted in Events, Headlines, Other Events, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

“Out of the Shire”: Wonderful Art Show Tribute to Tolkien’s Middle-earth

Artwork by Ted Nasmith I’ve always found it fascinating how J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth continues to captivate generations of artists around the world. TheOneRing.net has proudly produced 6 art shows over the years, shining a spotlight on both professional and fan artists alike. I was delighted to attend the opening reception of “Out of the Shire”, a new gallery exhibit in tribute to Tolkien and his inspiring work.

Nucleus is an art gallery and store located at 210 East Main Street in Alhambra, California. It’s a charming space that sells various art books, crafts, t-shirts and more. The gallery side is perfectly set up for exhibits with fantastic lighting. The artwork was laid out in such a way that it allows each piece to stand on its own to be admired. And there is some truly incredible artwork on display!

Out of the Shire I Am No Man

Over 30 artists are on exhibit, showing a wide variety of styles – from paintings to illustrations, paper craft to sculptures, and more. I especially loved pieces that were original interpretations of beloved characters, not inspired by images from the Peter Jackson movies. You could see how the artist interpreted a character based on the writing of Tolkien himself, just as you do in your mind’s eye when you read “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings”.

Bilbo Meets Gandalf The Smallest Person Out of Trouble

Stand outs include the whimsical watercolors of Justin Gerard, an incredible fossilized Balrog by Tohru Patrick Awa, the lovely paintings by Caroline Hadilaksono, and a charming acrylic of Bilbo meeting Gandalf by Erik Krenz to name just a few. A special treat is the gorgeous artwork on display by TORn favorites Donato Giancola and Ted Nasmith. Keith Noordzy, who took part in our “An Unexpected Art Show” last February, is also part of the exhibit.

Ents and Orcs Embers of the Darkness

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I’d highly recommend you check out this special exhibit in person. It’s well worth a visit. “Out of the Shire” is free and runs until January 12, 2014.

Posted in Artwork, Creations, Events, Exhibits

Mithril’s Review of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Editor Note: Our latest staff review comes from Mithril… A friend of TORn since its beginnings, Mithril became a staff member in 2013 after The One Expected Oscar Party for which she created 20-foot-tall Dwarven and Elven banners. She is a moderator of The Great Hall of Poets, and you can oft times find her escaping to Middle-earth by writing poetry herself or slipping into one of its characters through cosplay. In the real world, she is an art director and designer, and her work appears in the film “Ringers: Lord of the Fans”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

====SPOILERS!!!!!====

Although Peter Jackson takes us on a non-stop wild ride from the edge of the wilds to the Lonely Mountain in “The Desolation of Smaug”, this fan did not always agree with the twists and turns it took. Besides prefacing my following remarks by saying I did not read any other reviews before writing this, I also want to say that I was not opposed to most of the changes that were made to the canon in the Lord of the Rings trilogy films. I welcomed the addition of Arwen to the greater part of the story and the changes that were made to accommodate her. I thought most of the changes worked well. I am not a Canon-Or-Nothing fan.

I know it is a movie, which ultimately and necessarily needs to be different than the book, but, IMHO, DoS goes too far.

The opening scene of Gandalf’s meeting with Thorin at The Prancing Pony was a welcome addition to the film. (Peter’s overt cameo made me laugh.) I have been fascinated with the Quest for Erebor and how it explains the origins of the Dwarves’ journey, and it was fun to revisit the Pony. But the next scene left me scrambling to place where the company was and remember where the last film had left us off. We get no view of the Eagles’ eerie or even that famous Tolkien landmark The Carrock.

Mikael Persbrandt rocked Beorn, which somewhat surprised me after all the negative speculation about what he would look like. His voice and movements were incredible and really gave the character stature and an almost other-worldy quality, but our stay with Beorn is much too hurried. It was such a magical episode in the book, and I wanted the film to recapture that more. Having seen the sets for Beorn’s house in person at The Book of New Zealand, I know they are beautifully detailed, but the span we spend in the house is so short, we don’t get to appreciate them enough. Even one Dwarvish song or tale there would have done wonders for me.

Herein lies the reason why I think DoS deviates so much from the original story. Though I disagree, critics had complained that “An Unexpected Journey” was too slow, especially the beginning, and so Peter (or the studio) felt the need to add more action to speed things up. This left no time for lingering on some of the more magic moments from the original Hobbit. I missed Bombur falling in the stream in Mirkwood and the tense moment when the deer leaps overhead. (Though the plausibility of the Dwarves carrying him would have been questionable, I am not sure his antics in the barrels makes up for it.) But the Elven feasts and will-o’-the-wisp fires in the woods I sorely missed. The trippy scenes of the disoriented Dwarves were effective at explaining why they left the forest road but did not support the reason the Elves were unhappy with them. Thankfully, Bilbo was not robbed of his heroism in freeing the Dwarves from the spider webs. (My greatest grievance about the LotR movies was that Frodo was robbed of the strength he displayed at Weathertop and at the crossing of the Ford). How he gets to hear the spiders is great, lending weight and meaning to the Ring. As does the excellent moment of him struggling with his emotions attached to it. When he climbs above the treetops is one of my favorites in the film.

WETA once more creates a spectacular Elven realm, more haunting than I ever imagined, and this time the cameras did linger to give us time to catch our breath in awe. As to its inhabitants, Lee Pace brought Thranduil’s haughty, immortal nature to full fruition. He looked and sounded amazing. And I was thrilled to have Orlando back as Legolas, and to me, it makes perfect sense – I think his absence would have needed to be explained. And I like that we got to see more of his character revealed.

And then to Tauriel. I want to say that I welcomed her into the story from when she was first hinted at. Of course there would have been female warrior Elves. Tolkien just forgot to mention them in The Hobbit. With hundreds, even thousands of years to train, they would have been every bit as skilled as their male counterparts. Tauriel does not disappoint. Her fighting skills and mannerisms are great. I do not mind her interest in Kili (Hey, he’s one hot Dwarf!), but I wish that it had been left at curiosity and not grown so quickly into emotional attachment. The love triangle that is developing robs all three characters. But I relished when she was speaking to him of starlight. It was one of the moments of the film that gave me chills. Her musings opened up the story to the wider wonders of Tolkien’s universe and hinted at backstory.

Gandalf’s travails at Dol Guldur do this as well. And it works because there is not an exact description of what happens there in the Appendices. Though in my mind, the preview we saw of Gandalf at the High Fells with Radagast was scarier than what we actually saw in the film and scarier than what happens at Dol Goldur. The device of the flaming eye was cool, though the battle with Gandalf’s bubble of light perhaps drawn out too long without enough substantial interaction between Gandalf and Sauron, but it will help people who do not know the history to make the connection between the Necromancer and Sauron. But when we see Gandalf caged and the wargs and orcs massing below, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Orthanc.

Once again, I was so thankful that Bilbo was allowed to have his moment when he rescues the Dwarves from their cells and helps them escape. There had been rumors that Tauriel would help him do this, and I am glad they were unfounded. I minded not at all that the Dwarves were not sealed in the barrels, for where would the fun have been in that on-screen? And the Orc attack made sense given that we know they were being tracked all along, and it made for good action. I was dismayed that Kili was shot, but did not imagine at this point that it would bother me even more later in the film.

I liked Bard’s appearance and the assistance he offers the Dwarves, and the entire sequence from when he first meets them to getting them into his house felt true to the story and introduced Lake-town and its characters well. Luke Evans was well cast – grim but not unlikeable. The Lake-town set and how it was filmed truly brought it to life. It was more real and gritty than I envisioned it when originally reading the book, and it felt completely right. Stephen Fry is admirably sleazy as the Master and Ryan Gage was good as Alfrid, though in my mind, too reminiscent of Wormtongue. I wish the townspeople’s reactions to the return of the legend of the King Under the Mountain had been more enthusiastic. I would have liked to see more spirit and heard at least one of the songs that were sung about the Dwarves’ return. That way the contrast when Smaug attacks would have been even more poignant.

From here on out, I am not sure I can reconcile what I would have liked to happen with what did. I can not believe that the four Dwarves would be willing to be left behind in Lake-town under any circumstances. It especially did not ring true to me since it just seemed like an excuse to show Kili and Tauriel’s growing romance. The Orc invasion into Lake-town and the arrival of Legolas and Tauriel felt out-of-place. Though I understand the sequential logic and the opportunity to let Legolas display some pretty epic fighting, it will rob the moment of surprise when the bad guys show up at the Battle of Five Armies. But when Tauriel takes on the role of healer… when she goes into Elvish trance talk and begins to glow JUST LIKE ARWEN…. I actually threw my hands up in the theater. The manner in which it was shown felt too similar to how Arwen was portrayed, diminishing both Elves. Throughout DoS, I felt the film was often riffing off LotR. I am not sure if it was meant to be an inside joke, but to me, it just seemed repetitive.

As the remaining Dwarves continue on, the discovery of the stairs was like a bludgeon to the head. I think it was meant to feel epic, and I hope it does the next time I see it, but at the first viewing it just seemed so obvious that they all should have seen it. Gone the nail-biting climb across the narrow ledge and the hauling up of supplies. This felt more like an afternoon jaunt than the final stretch of the quest. I hardly minded that it was the moon and not the sun that lit the keyhole. It even makes more sense and was more mystical, especially since the runes could only be read by the light of the moon. This was another place in the film that sent chills up my spine.

Bilbo’s entrance into the cave started off well. The shifting, endless mountains of gold and the way they sounded were stupendous. His first nuanced realization of Smaug was wonderful. But once he takes off the Ring, I started to question what was happening. Now that Smaug can see him, why doesn’t he kill him? OK, so he’s toying with him. I guess I can believe that. The way Smaug looks and sounds and moves is spectacular. BEST. DRAGON. EVER! I love how his belly starts to glow before he is going to breath fire. I did miss the jewels on his belly, though a plausible explanation was given of why he had the unprotected spot on his breast – that a black arrow had previously pierced him and a piece lodged there. Yet this may detract from Bard’s heroic take-down of him. (If this is indeed what happens.)

From here on out, all Mordor breaks loose. I could have accepted the Dwarves encounter with Smaug. I could have lived with them being chased through the halls of Erebor. But what made me cry out upon leaving the theater “I want a do-over!” was the Indiana Jones escapade that they were taken on. Not only was it completely outrageous, but it was confusing and unbelievable. Start the forges? What? Melt millions of gallons of gold in minutes? What? Stand on the nose of Smaug “Oh, greatest of calamities!” and not get eaten? WHAT!!?!?!?!????! And all the while, they are missing four Dwarves who might have made the action sequence more plausible and added some lightheartedness.

There were only two moments in the whole sequence that really worked for me: When Bilbo enters what I think Thorin calls “The Hall of Kings”; the contrast of little Bilbo lost in its vastness was an awe-filled pause. And the sight of Smaug bursting into the sky shaking off rivulets of gold was glorious. But I would have traded that image’s weight in gold to have just seen him spout fire into the night sky.

The critics of “The Unexpected Journey” wanted more action. They got it. The studio wanted better reviews. They’ll get them from the critics. I have heard speculation that the sequence in the mountain was a time filler which came about when two movies were made into three. But from this Tolkien fan’s perspective, there were better ways the time could have been filled.

Having written out all my thoughts and calmed down a bit, I’m sure the epic, tumbling pace of the film will grow on me. I have my doubts that the escapade inside the mountain will ever truly find its way into my heart, but I am looking forward to seeing Desolation again. Now that I know what happens, I’ll be able to focus on the incredible magic all their own that Peter Jackson and WETA always create.

POSTSCRIPT

Well, I saw “Desolation of Smaug” again last night. Over my initial shock, I went in telling myself to keep an open mind, sit back, relax and enjoy. And I really did. Because the vision of Middle-earth that Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, WETA and all the crew bring to the screen blows me away. And somehow I have to accept the changes they made to the original story in order to be privileged to step into that incredibly detailed and vast world.

Many of the things that bothered me the first viewing seemed now to fit into the overall story. Granted, the overall story is not Tolkien’s story exactly. The story I am talking about is the one that began in “An Unexpected Journey”. And that story, I already agreed to go along for the ride on.

To detail some of the things that seemed less bothersome to me on the second viewing:

Perhaps Beorn is standing on the Carrock when he first appears, it’s just different than I envisioned it. And we definitely spend enough time in his house to linger on the amazing details. The changes to the barrel ride are a crowd-pleaser for sure. Bombur gets the biggest laugh in the film. Plus, all that white water looks amazing in 3D HFR. Dol Guldur felt much scarier to me this time – I even jumped in my seat, and the people I was with who had seen LotR were still asking me to explain the shape inside of Sauron’s Eye and why it was at Dol Guldur. Even though it seemed very over-the-top to me. This time the shiver I got was when the people of Lake-town realize who Thorin is. The Dwarves final trek up to Erebor seemed more epic on the second viewing. I got misty-eyed when Thorin and Balin first step into the mountain.

Most of the pieces fell into place, and in places the story is richer than the book which is more descriptive in a general sense than delving into character development. But how can you have a movie without strong characters? Perhaps now I see why the writers felt the need for changes to bring those characters to life.

I still am not happy with how the love triangle was portrayed. Nor am I completely OK with how unbelievable some of the action inside the Lonely Mountain is. But Smaug is absolutely and undeniably stupendous, and getting to spend that extra time with him is almost worth it. BEST. DRAGON. EVER!!!

And I think I’ll leave it there because I could pick DoS apart ad infinitum, or I can just sit back and enjoy the ride. I think I’ll do the later.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Media Reviews, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Ostadan’s Review of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Editor Note: Our latest staff review comes from staffer Ostadan… who himself calls this a “grouchy non-review” of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’. So you may want to take that as a word of warning or proceed to read with glee! This review also contains major SPOILERS. If you are avoiding spoilers of any type, please click away now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

====SPOILERS!!!!!====

Cartoon by Tim Kirk

I give up; I can’t review this thing coherently. Gene Siskel said that as a critic you should fight the temptation to write about what the film should have been about or obsess on the way you wish the characters would have responded in an ideal world. Review the movie that’s there, Siskel insisted. Not the movie you wish they would have made.

And I wish Jackson had made an adaptation of The Hobbit that was at least as close to the source material as the Rankin-Bass cartoon. Instead, he made a Hollywood Blockbuster; it reminded me of Tim Kirk’s cartoon in ‘Mythlore’ issue #1, illustrating an article about what a movie of LotR might be like. A director is explaining, “OK — After Steve Reeves and his vikings rescue you from the forest outlaws, you set out to rescue the princess from Sauron, who’s holding her for ransom.” When I explain the last half hour as, “While Thorin and the other dwarves are fighting Smaug by melting huge amounts of gold, back in Laketown Fili and Kili are rescued from Bolg and his band of Orcs by Legolas and Tauriel, who uses athelas to heal Kili’s poisoned wound. Meanwhile, Gandalf has a magical battle with the Necromancer and is caged in Dol Guldur,” I feel like I’m in Tim Kirk’s cartoon; and that is without even mentioning the Kili/Tauriel sorta-romance.

It’s not Tolkien. It’s not even an extension of Tolkien, it’s a downright contradiction to fundamental aspects of Tolkien’s world, not merely world building details. Whatever happened to the Istari who were forbidden to match Sauron’s power with power? For that matter, whatever happened to hobbits who were unexpectedly resistant to the corrupting power of the ring? After wearing the Ring twice, Bilbo is already going into ‘mine!’ (precious) mode. After sixty years, what will he be like? (The real explanation seems to be that Bilbo needs to be reluctant to wear the Ring, so that there’s an excuse for him to take it off improbably, since we’ve got this established ‘ring world’ visual that would not sustain well in Smaug’s lair; by contrast, he’s just fine wearing it at length in Thranduil’s palace.)

So, there is no point to reviewing this film as an adaptation. That’s not the movie that’s there, disappointing as that may be. This has to be reviewed as a Hollywood blockbuster, and I am not particularly an expert in such things. Nevertheless, as long as you insist on reading this anyway…

There are a lot of things that keep it from being immersive for me, starting with the really cheesy 3D in-your-face bumblebees at the beginning of the film. (come on, what year is this? “Coming at Ya” was 1981) Please, don’t remind me that I am watching a movie. When I saw ‘Iron Man’, when Tony Stark tried out the flight rockets in the lab and was smacked into the wall without injury, I was ‘taken out’ of the film experience. Unfortunately, there were too many moments like that here. The following are random observations that explain why I’m kinda grumpy about DoS.

There are certainly more than a few times that I was distracted by plot points that make little sense, even on Jackson’s terms. The tag-team pursuit of the dwarves by orcs is particularly clumsy and unbelievable. Bolg catches up with Azog (somehow) and they BOTH divert to Dol Guldur, where the Necromancer appoints Azog as his general, and then Azog sends Bolg back to pursue Thorin and company. And bless ‘em, they find the dwarves – and where are they looking? On the downstream side of Thranduil’s realm. Damn, these trackers are good! Just imagine: Bolg knew that Thorin was detained by Thranduil. But then, Azog had managed to track them across the Misty Mountains somehow in the first film, and even being carried some distance by the Eagles didn’t put him off their tail, so I guess Thorin’s carrying a GPS transponder. Of course, the orcs know Thorin’s final destination anyway, but for some reason never do anything to head them off at Laketown or ambush them at Dale or… oh never mind. What is the point of switching Azog out for Bolg, again?

As in the previous film, Jackson’s ability to convey (or understand) matters of time and distance is extremely limited, and sometimes distracting; we are not even given visual cues to the changing seasons until it is suddenly winter in Laketown (Thranduil’s crown of fall leaves from the book does not appear here). The tag-team Orc handoff is one example of time compression; Gandalf’s ride to the ‘High Fells of Rhudaur’ (presumably back across the Misty Mountains) and then back again to Dol Guldur is another. I hope Gandalf’s horse got home to Beorn OK; I think the wizards are riding the bunny sled back from the high fells. Expect the arrival of Dain and other dwarves to be similarly mystery-timed in the next film.

Thorin is an idiot. I mean, these dwarf guys are basically merchants, and here’s expert negotiator Thorin with Thranduil. “I’ll let you go free on a promise of the return of our own treasure from Smaug’s hoard.” “I can’t trust you!” Thranduil is an idiot. His reply should have been, “Spider poison has rattled your brains. I am not asking you to trust me, stupid nogoth! I am not even asking for a hostage for surety of your promise as any sensible king would do!” Thorin is not just being proud; he is being stupid. Thranduil is stupid too, but he has the luxury of holding the keys.

The spider scene was pretty good, though I have begun to weary of Jackson’ constant vertiginous drops. But the spider speech was, in the end, disappointing. Bilbo (and we) only learned that the spiders wanted to feed (duh), and that his sword hurt them (duh). Instead of ‘I shall call you Sting’, Bilbo gets that word from a spider, and just shrugs and says that it’s a good name. This should have been one of Bilbo’s high points as the nominal hero of the story. But it has been undercut by his using Sting to attempt to rescue Thorin in the previous film, and so the moment goes flat. Note that the ‘Eagles are Coming’ moment in the battle of the five armies will almost certainly go flat for similar reasons. Rather than being a eucatastrophic moment in which the heroes are rescued from certain defeat by an unexpected and unlooked-for joyous turn, we’ll have Gandalf whistling for the Eagles again with a convenient moth (does anyone still doubt this?), telegraphing their arrival in advance. Bless me, what do they teach them in film school nowadays?

Bard tells Bilbo about Smaug’s weak point, not the other way around. Bilbo seeing the weak spot for himself is therefore inconsequential, except as an unnecessary reminder and confirmation to the audience. No ravens need apply.

Jackson could not resist a toilet joke; admittedly, the small fry in the audience seemed to like it. Of course, we must consequently infer that the entire population of Laketown fills the lake with raw sewage on a daily basis.

When Bard gets the Black Harpoon, sorry, Arrow, Alfrid and his security cronies (who are remarkably oblivious to the arrival of a band of warg-riding orcs and a pair of elves) pursue and arrest him. Why? The original motivation was that Bard was fomenting revolution against the Master of Laketown; but that revolution was successfully quelled with Thorin’s appearance. Even Alfrid can’t explain. By the way, I was pleasantly surprised by Stephen Fry’s turn as the Master of Laketown. I could easily forget that I was watching Stephen Fry, which is often difficult to do with high-profile guest stars.

Galadriel’s telepathic cellphone seems to work only one way. Gandalf sends Radagast with a message rather than just magically contacting her. Jackson will spend time giving us an otiose explanation of Beorn’s back story, but leaves things mysterious when, well, they make no sense (Galadriel’s disappearance in the first film is another example. And Thranduil’s magical disappearing scars, there for shock value, but again making no sense from a storytelling standpoint).

Why does Smaug repeatedly refer to Thorin as ‘Oakenshield’, a name acquired long after he left Erebor? Has Smaug been reading the New Orc Times?

Thranduil doesn’t like hand-rails any more than Elrond.

The barrel escape was good, and Bilbo’s realization that he had no obvious escape was delightful. The whole sequence was marred by increasingly improbable action, though. Which leads me to…

Superhero elves. I have a friend who, I predict, will love Legolas and Tauriel’s fight scenes. He will say something on his YouTube channel like, “In this film, Legolas is a bad ass!! He and this new character Tauriel are just kicking orc butt left and right! It’s awesome!” My friend is a comic book fan. Look, Legolas’s stair-surfing and oliphant-slaying in the LotR films were over the top (and criticized at the time) but were only a small portion of the actions in which they took place. Here, he and Tauriel are at the center of the action, and constantly doing this stuff, A little goes a long way, and to me it just feels cheesy, more like a comic-book film than a fantasy set in a supposedly real world. Are we really going to have an army of Thranduil’s elves who all fight like this?

Turning Tauriel into Arwen doesn’t help.

Big fight scenes or battle scenes are like the fantasy-film equivalent of car chases and explosions. They have their place (and are kind of obligatory), but it is too common to overdo them.

Doesn’t Gandalf already know that the Necromancer is Sauron? He seems to tell Radagast so (only Sauron can summon the Nazgûl). So just what does he intend to accomplish in Dol Guldur? By himself? “It is certainly a trap.” Well, then, what’s the point of going in there? Again, we get a comic-book confrontation, like fans asking, “If Sauron battled Gandalf, who’d win?” Putting Sauron/the Necromancer on stage, with melodramatic dialogue, once agains cheapens the character.

Waste of a bloody brilliant dragon, if you ask me. From the purely technical standpoint, Smaug was the unquestioned ‘star’ at the film. Much of Bilbo’s dialogue with Smaug was retained, pleasingly (but Jackson or Bilbo should look up ‘enormity’).

My reaction to the whole is, “Well, it’s OK. Maybe on a par with Man of Steel or Iron Man. But nothing special; we’ve seen it all before.”

PS. Rereading this, it may seem that I am being fault-finding and negative. I really did find the film OK on the whole. I have taken for granted that everyone knows that Jackson does immensely well with art direction, scenery, and so on. And by and large, these continue to be excellent in the present film (though there are some CGI lapses in technique that are actually rather surprising). Generally, the craftsmanship and cinematography are excellent. As always.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Media Reviews, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

LEGO Rivendell made with over 200,000 bricks is a marvel to behold!

At last October’s BrickCon in Seattle, a new collaborative LEGO creation was unveiled to the world. Alice Finch, the same talented artist who created the largest LEGO Hogwarts ever built, teamed up with fellow creator David Frank to build their own version of Middle-earth’s Rivendell. There have been other impressive versions built before but this may dwarf them all. I was fortunate enough to see this in person and it was truly spectacular! It really captured the hearts of the public attendees at BrickCon where it picked up the People’s Choice Award. LEGO blog The Brothers Brick has a great interview with Alice and David, that goes into how and why they came to build this amazing version of Lord Elrond’s domain. The photos show all the detail inspired by “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “An Unexpected Journey” as well as the massive size. It even lights up!

Bridge Building Dwarves forming a circle around Bilbo Feasting Hall at Night Elves return from hunting some goblins Rivendell-angle

You can enjoy more images on Flickr. Congratulations to Alice and David on a beautiful version of Rivendell!

Posted in Creations, Fans, LEGO

TORn Light the Beacons auction: An Unexpected Art Show Signed Canvas

Donato Giancola artworkOver the next couple of weeks TheOneRing.net is conducting a pledge drive to raise funds to keep our servers running. We have some unique auctions going on over at ebay, including something very special and truly one of a kind that highlights a key event that TORn put on for fans earlier this year — a signed canvas with autographs and drawings by many of the artists who participated in our “Unexpected Art Show”.

LEGO OrthancWe were proud to present this one night only gallery exhibit held on February 22, 2013 at Lot 613 in the historic arts district of downtown Los Angeles. In this cool space, we featured a variety of artists who use many different mediums and are creatively inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth universe. The all volunteer TORn staff spent hours setting up the space, coordinating and meeting with artists from around the world, and cleaning up after a wonderful night of music and artwork. We then had to hurry over to help set up for our next event — the Oscar party we threw the very same weekend! As you can imagine, it was quite tiring but very rewarding to see and meet so many fans admiring the beautiful artwork and having a chance to mingle with such an incredible group of talented artists. It was a true celebration of how much J.R.R. Tolkien’s works mean to all of us.

An Unexpected Art Show - 8Acclaimed artists Tim Kirk, Donato Giancola, and Jerry VanderSelt were on hand to meet fans, sign prints, and in the case of Tim, get a portrait of yourself drawn as a playful Hobbit! They also took the time to autograph and draw on a special TORn stretched canvas panel for us. Tim drew Smaug, Donato drew Gandalf, and Jerry sketched Strider. Eleven other artists who attended the show also signed the canvas including LEGO artists OneLug, graphic artist Nancy Steinman, stained-glass artist Christie Wood, and more. You can own this truly unique and one of kind piece of artwork from this spectacular TORn event by bidding today!

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Posted in Artwork, Events, Exhibits, Other Events, Uncategorized

Peter Jackson to begin wearing glasses again

Another April Fools joke – courtesy of Ringer Mike…

APRIL FOOLS

From Weta Digital, comes this exciting press release about a certain something all fans of Sir Peter Jackson have missed…Sir Peter Jackson

Wellington, NZ (April 1st, 2013)–

In response to the lukewarm critical reception of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, Peter Jackson has announced that he will begin wearing his eyeglasses again.

“It was a public image decision,” Jackson says. “Fran and Philippa and I sat down and brainstormed, trying to figure out why the critics had panned the first ‘Hobbit’ film, despite its commercial success. And then we suddenly realized it wasn’t the film at all! The critics weren’t saying it out loud, but subconsciously they missed the ‘old’ Peter Jackson. And that means they wanted to see the eyeglasses.”

While Jackson hasn’t worn glasses for years and no longer uses his old prescription, he has planned a workaround to the problem. “I can simply pop the lenses out of my old frames, and we’ll be good to go– that is, if I can find them!” he laughs.

But putting the glasses back on is only the first step. Plans are also underway to add glasses back on to all of the behind-the-scenes footage of Peter that has been shot for the Extended Edition DVDs.

Since Weta Digital is already too busy working on effects shots for films two and three, Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop have been placed in charge of the eyeglass project.

“We want fans to feel like they’ve returned to the film-making world they have become acquainted with,” Taylor says. “Realistically inserting eyeglasses into Peter’s interview shots and B-roll footage will add that final crucial element of familiarity that will make this a truly nostalgic behind-the-scenes experience for the extended DVDs.”

Using a recently perfected technique combining advanced facial-recognition software with a slave-motion camera rig, the glasses will be added to Peter’s face using green screens and carefully crafted models.

Taylor has already commissioned a special 18-inch wide “bigature” of Peter’s glasses to be used in the project. “The miniatures department had felt a bit neglected lately, and they were overjoyed to take this on. One has to appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship that is going into this model. Every screw and hinge, every curve of the frame is faithfully reproduced in larger-than-life detail.”

Weta Limited Edition replicas of the glasses will be available as a Comic Con Exclusive in July 2013.

Early fan reaction to the news so far has been positive, and representatives from Warner Bros. were optimistic as well, and in a statement have expressed confidence that the reintroduction of spectacles to Jackson’s image is the right way to go towards making up for the box office disappointment of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Will the glasses really make a difference? What do you think? Sound off!

Posted in ComicCon, Peter Jackson, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

‘An Unexpected Art Show’ Featured Artist – Tim Kirk

Riddle Game by Tim KirkTheOneRing.net is excited to announce that among the over 30 artists contributing work to ‘An Unexpected Art Show’, the incredibly talented and award-winning artist Tim Kirk will be in attendance! Celebrating The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ will feature inspired art pieces — from paintings, drawings, and illustrations to prints — from a variety of artists.

A long time friend of the site, Tim Kirk earned his Master’s Degree in Illustration from CSU Long Beach. His thesis project consisted of a serious of illustrations based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 13 of these illustrations were later published by Ballantine Books as a calendar in 1975, the first by an illustrator other than Professor Tolkien. Tim has gone on to illustrate numerous children’s books, science fiction books, and magazines. He has won five prestigious Hugo awards and has worked as an Imagineer for Walt Disney.

Tim will be on hand to do quick sketches for anyone who brings books or calendars to be signed. He will also be offering signed and remarqued (with a sketch) prints of some of his Tolkien work for sale. As well, some of his original oil paintings in beautiful custom frames will be on display for all to admire.

Roiad to Minas Tirith by Tim KirkJoin us for ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ in Los Angeles, California on Friday, February 22, from 7 PM to 1 AM. All ages are welcome to attend. Children 12 and under get in free. A limited number of tickets are available for $15 online and $20 at the door. ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ will be held at Lot 613, a blank-canvas special events space in the Historic Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, located at 613 Imperial Street. It’s all part of our Middle-earth Celebration weekend culminating with ‘The One Expected Party‘!

Purchase art show tickets today! –  Party tickets are also still available!

 

Posted in Artwork, Events, Exhibits

Eat, Drink, Be Merry! ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ One Night Only

We’re only a week away from ‘An Unexpected Art Show’, a unique celebration of artwork from over 30 artists around the world inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Our event is one night only – Friday, February 22, from 7 PM to 1 AM. ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ will be at Lot 613, a blank-canvas special events space in the Historic Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, located at 613 Imperial Street.

An Unexpected Art Show

All ages are welcome to attend. Children 12 and under get in free. There is plenty of free street parking and an adjacent lot offers parking for $10. A limited number of tickets are available for $15 online and $20 at the door. Print and bring the above flyer for a $10 discount. There will be food and drinks for sale as well as a DJ set later in the evening.

Among the over 30 artists contributing work and attending in person are Tim Kirk, who illustrated the 1975 Tolkien Calendar — the first by an illustrator other than Professor Tolkien, and Jerry VanderStelt, an artist producing licensed reproductions for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. Additional artists include Donato GiancolaStephen Hickman, and Jay JohnstonePurchase tickets today!

It’s all part of our Middle-earth Celebration weekend culminating with ‘The One Expected Party‘ on February 24th. Party tickets are still available!

Posted in Artwork, Events, Exhibits, Fans

‘An Unexpected Art Show’ Featured Artist – Jay Johnstone

Art by Jay JohnstoneTheOneRing.net is shining the spotlight on the diverse group of artists in ‘An Unexpected Art Show’. Over 30 artists will be showing off their work — using a wide variety of mediums, approaching their love of Tolkien from different perspectives and hailing from all over the world. We’re excited that U.K. based artist Jay Johnstone will have selected works on display.

Jay Johnstone has spent many years as a professional artist, but has only recently joined the ranks of the fine artists specifically associated with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Inspired by the idea that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings had been transcribed from ancient manuscripts appealed to Jay. Using techniques from religious manuscripts, icon and fresco illustrations from the medieval period, Jay’s artwork uses a variety of mediums — oils, watercolors, acrylics, egg tempera with gold powder and leaf. Striking detail and traditional techniques give the impression of artwork that could have been produced in the real Middle-earth!

Jay has been hailed by Cor Blok and Ted Nasmith as a creative force meant to be seen years to come. He has in his supporters other well-known characters such as Ian Brodie and Christopher Paolini, and is in residence in the collections of Bernd Greisinger (Greisinger Museum, Jenins, Switzerland), Sir Richard Taylor and others, worldwide.

Join us for a night of artwork celebrating the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien in Los Angeles, California on Friday, February 22, from 7 PM to 1 AM. Children 12 and under are free! A limited number of tickets are available for $15 online and $20 at the door. ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ will be held at Lot 613, a blank-canvas special events space in the Historic Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, located at 613 Imperial Street. Skip the line and purchase art show tickets online.

It’s all part of our Middle-earth Celebration weekend culminating with ‘The One Expected Party‘! Party tickets are still available.

Posted in Artwork, Events, Exhibits, Fans