On March 28, 2015 TheOneRing.net livestreamed an interview with animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi to discuss the first-ever “The Lord of the Rings” film (1978), and to parse the differences between homage and rip-off (and the not-so-nebulous chains of inspiration from one artist to another).
Bakshi revealed to us that his Studio’s “LOTR” character designs and artwork were sent down to Three Foot Six in New Zealand; elevating the conversation of his impact on the live-action epic.
The subversive director has lived through numerous controversies, yet remains undervalued by Ringer fans and feels personally slighted by Jackson. He carries on vigorously at 77 years old with a new crowdfunded animated work, “The Last Days of Coney Island” and his intent to direct a “Wizards 2″ follow-up to his 1977 cult hit.(more…)
We know that many fans are in New York this week, enjoying the fabulous Lord of the Rings in Concert performances at Lincoln Center. For those of you who can’t be there, here’s a short video to enjoy, which captures the excitement of seeing these great films with live orchestra:
We hope that everyone who is there is having a great time in the Big Apple!
Ralph Bakshi will appear in person at a film retrospective of some of his most iconic animated films, presented by the American Cinematheque in conjunction with the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The films will screen at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica on the last weekend of March. You can catch a double feature of “Heavy Traffic” and “American Pop” on Friday, March 27 starting at 7:30pm. There will be a discussion with director Ralph Bakshi between these two films and a clip will be shown from his new film “Last Days of Coney Island”. On the following Saturday, March 28, there will be a double feature of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Wizards”, starting at 7:30pm, again with a discussion with director Ralph Bakshi between the two films.
If you have never seen this version of LOTR, or at least never seen it on the big screen, you must try and catch this screening. The rotoscoping is eye-catching, to say the least, and brings a level of veracity to the more serious themes of this story, something that was not common with animation of it’s time. Bakshi Productions will be selling art in the lobby starting at 6:30pm each night, so get there early.
Staffers from TheOneRing.net will running about the theater as well, so do make sure to say hello if you see us. And what can only be called a cosmic coincidence, Tolkien Forever, the Los Angeles based smial of the Tolkien Society will be hosting Tolkien Reading Day earlier in the day on Saturday, March 28 in Downtown Los Angeles. You can find out more details about that on Facebook event page. Why not make it a true Tolkien daily double with some reading, some viewing and some Fellowship.
The Aero theater is located at 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403, and you can buy tickets at the box office or in advance on Fandango. All the information you need can be found on the American Cinematheque Bakshi Tribute calendar.
There was a lot that I liked in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” and there were a few things that left me scratching my head. But first, let’s get the niceties out of the way; this review is chock full of spoilers, so turn back now if you just don’t want to know. Also, this review is based on my opinion, other reviews will be popping up shortly from other staffers, so take that for what it’s worth.
Beware, there be spoilers ahead!
Really, if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now!
These spoilers reveal a lot, last chance to come back later!
Here is a list of all the cool scenes that really made an impact on me.
I did rather like that instead of a Flashback beginning, like all the previous films, this one jumped right into the action with Smaug attacking Laketown and everyone trying to flee.
On a related note, I love the way Bard faces off against Smaug. He stays so calm and yet watchful and careful as he prepares to defend the city against Smaug’s attack. Once Bain enters the scene, it becomes event better. Everyone who might have been afraid that this sequence would be ruined, or at least lessened by the use of the Wind-lance, fear not, Bard goes real old school in how he launches the fatal shot. The fact that Smaug is taunting him is even more perfect.
Dol Guldur – Perfection in just about every way. From Galadriel’s rather relaxed entrance, to Elrond and Saruman double-teaming the Nine, this is the kind of epic showdown we hoped for from the White Council. And then Galadrield goes nuclear on Sauron and things get really serious. If you ever had any doubt that Galadriel was the most powerful Elf in Middle-earth, this will drop you jaw to the floor. It also shows just how close the bond is between Galadriel and Gandalf, so that in 60 year’s time, when Galadrield learns of Gandalf’s fate in Moria, we will be able to feel her grief just that little bit more.
Bilbo presenting the Arkenstone to Bard and Thranduil in order to broker peace between them and Thorin. Thranduil is universally dismissive of the Dwarves throughout the film, but Bilbo cuts through the politics and states he would not like to see his friends in battle, so he has come up with another solution.
As impressive as it was for Bilbo to make the decision to take the Arkenstone out of Erebor, it is even more impressive that he returns to the Mountain to be with the Company when Bard plays the Arkenstone for peace. Thorin’s fiery reaction is pitch perfect, and Bilbo barely escapes without being thrown over the walls.
Thorin’s decent into madness is expertly played, but my favorite scene is actually when a suspicious Thorin questions Bilbo about what he has in his hands, to discover it is an Acorn. Bilbo picked it up in Beorn’s garden and intends to plant it in his own garden at Bag End. Thorin is so surprised that Bilbo has been able to keep this little thing safe so long, that Bilbo would even make the effort when now he can have a share of the treasure. Bilbo simply reminds that it will grow, and that it will remind him of all his adventures, the good and the bad, all the people he encountered along the way. I believe it is at this moment that Thorin decides Bilbo is the only member of the Company he can truly trust because he just does not covet treasure at all. This whole sequence plays beautifully between these two.
To bookend the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin, at least before the Battle, is the gifting of the Mithril shirt. Bilbo thinks he looks ridiculous, but Thorin knows there will be a fight and that Bilbo needs something to help keep him safe. Of course, it is during this sequence that Thorin confides to Bilbo that he thinks a member of the Company has taken the Arkenstone, that he has been betrayed by one of his own kin.
Thorin, Dwalin, Fili and Kili all jump on the Battle Rams brought by Dain’s army and ride those up Ravenhill. It is now made very clear why Dwarves use Battle Rams as steeds, they are the perfect animal for folk who live in or on mountains because they can climb so well.
Thorin and Azog, the battle royale on the ice. This is a big, bone crushing battle that is exhausting just to watch, and it ends just the way it is supposed to end. We do get to see how Thorin get’s Orcrist back, which is a nice touch.
Bilbo does get to join the battle, much more so than he did in the book. He is on the field of battle when both the Orcs and Dain’s Iron Hill Dwarves show up, and then when the Laketown people are withdrawn to Dale, he makes the decision to go warn Thorin that a second Orc army is bearing down on his position on Ravenhill. This, after Thorin nearly threw him from the Walls, is why it is clear that Bilbo is no longer that same Hobbit that left the Shire.
Bilbo does get knocked out, but not while he is invisible, and he awakens in time to see Thorin’s epic fight with Azog, allowing him to be there at the end. This will be one of the times you need your tissue.
I do so love it when Bilbo invites the surviving Dwarves back to Bag End for tea, whenever they are in the neighborhood. It is so very Hobbity, and emotional at the same time.
The auction at Bag End, in the Shire. We finally see Lobelia Sackville-Baggins trying to get away with Bilbo’s spoons, and many other Hobbits do get away with quite a lot of his furniture. Bilbo has to prove he really is himself by showing some document or other with his name on it. Luckily, he still has his contract with his name on it to do so, but alas his home is nearly empty at this point. It is while he is looking at Thror’s Map that we transition to Old Bilbo just at the moment that Gandalf knocks on the day of Bilbo’s Birthday. So the film ends just where it should, back in the Shire where the next story begins.
The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd is a rather perfect song to listen to through the end credits, accompanied by Alan Lee’s wonderful drawings, as usual.
And here is a list of the few things that confused me or did not seem to ring true.
Not a big criticism, but I found it odd that a few scenes shown in the Trailer released just a month before the Premiere did not make the final cut. There is no Ice Chariot careening down the icy river outside Erebor, in fact there is no Ice Chariot at all. There is also no sequence where you can clearly see the Iron Hill dwarves riding the Battle Rams, which is not a big deal, you see the army, just not the Rams. But since Thorin, Dwalin, Fili and Kili all go grab a Ram to ride up to Ravenhill, it’s an odd transition to not see them arriving.
The biggest thing I was looking for was when Bilbo and Gandalf finally discuss the Ring, but it happens in the most unexpected way, and very off hand, as if they almost forgot to include it at all. Just as Bilbo and Gandalf reach the edge of the Shire and Gandalf is about to go his own way, he stops and warns Bilbo that Magic Rings are not toys and should be taken seriously. Basically, it’s the same thing he says to Bilbo after his Birthday party stunt 60 years later. Problem is, the Ring has never been a topic of conversation, so Bilbo is about to deny it when Gandalf stops him and says something along the lines of “I know you found something in the Golbin caves and you’ve been acting strange every since then.” But how does Gandalf surmise it is a Ring of Power and not just some magic Acorn, or a brass button with a charm on it? It’s just a bit out of left field and took me completely out of the scene.
The only other bit that made me a bit sad was the fact that Beorn was barely even in the film at all. He arrives at the last minute with the Eagles, lead by Radagast, and he joins the fight by simply sliding off the back of an Eagle and falling into the battle, changing into a Bear on the way down. That is wicked cool, but we basically see just one swipe of his giant paw, sending Orcs flying, and then that is all done. Just not very satisfying at all.
The folks at IMAX really want you to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” in that format. Most fans are aware that there are a number of choices of how and where and in what format to see the film and some will try it several ways. We were given this exclusive featurette to share that features Peter Jackson, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans and Lee Pace singing the praises of the IMAX format with with scenes from the epic battle movie.
I am not aware of any of our staff viewing the film in IMAX format but we do know from first-hand experience that there are a whole lot of large-screen battle mayhem moments going on that range from deadly serious to funny. Certainly the IMAX experience would be something I would look forward to. Anyway, below is the video, which promotes the format via its stars and director and shows a lot of action clips and the hero closeups that are both Peter Jackson trademarks.
Tonight in the heart of Wales a very special event happened that brought together the family scions of Tolkien while also raising money for ALS; which by way of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge became one of the notable internet phenomena of 2014. Motor Neurone Disease touches closely on the family, as Royd Tolkien’s brother Mike struggles with its effects. (more…)
The winners of last month’s Hobbit Fan Contest that got to go to New Zealand and watch an in-progress cut of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and experience the beautiful scenes of the north and south islands and the hospitality of Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand, won their spots by producing short films.
As reports from the experience suggest, there was a great bonding of the 75 winners and their guests during the week-long tour of Middle-earth. These bonds are on display in a “thank you” video that the group organized to give to Peter Jackson and all the many folks who helped make the trip amazing. There is even a nod to TheOneRing.net which honestly touches us.
Turns out that crew can make a pretty great video with parts from all around the world. Their sincerity and appreciation really comes through and will make all fans proud. Enjoy! #HobbitFanContest
Richard Armitage was a very busy man this week in London! Not only was he on the red carpet and at press junkets for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; he also attended a party celebrating the release of the big screen version of the Old Vic’s production of The Crucible.
Armitage starred last summer as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s play. The production was filmed, and has been shown at cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Dec 4th – and will screen again on Monday 7th Dec. Future presentations are planned; you can check back for dates at the Crucible on Screen website, here - where you can also access an exclusive interview with Armitage.
Should you find yourself in Los Angeles next week and the week after, there will be plenty of Hobbity goodness to go around. And if you are not in LA, a few of the events will be covered so that you don’t miss any of the fun.
1) First up on Monday, December 8 with Peter Jackson receiving a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This will begin at 11:30am and run till about 12:15pm. The Walk of Fame website will be live streaming the ceremony, which means everyone can enjoy it even if you can’t be here with us. For those who do decide to attend, TORn will be hosting a lunch moot at the Cabo Wabo Cantina inside the Hollywood and Highland complex. The Star Ceremonies are open to the public, but they do not allow chairs or step ladders or anything that would impede walking. The ceremony lasts for about 45 minutes once it is started and they expect everyone to clear out once it is over in order to reopen the sidewalk. Peter’s star is slated to be outside the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Blvd, so you can park in the Hollywood and Highland Complex. If you wish to attend you can check out our Facebook Event Page. Andy Serkis will be speaking during the ceremony and numerous other cast are scheduled to appear.
2) The Hollywood premiere for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will take place inside the Dolby Theater on Tuesday, December 9. The Red Carpet starts at 5pm, so do try and arrive before then. Last year’s Hollywood premiere was more of a press event and not very fan friendly, so just go into this with eyes open. Arrive early, bring lots of patience with you, be prepared to stand for a long while, bring water and comfy shoes, and be open to changing locations if security changes protocols 6 times on you. Regardless of what happens on the Red Carpet and with the screening, TORn will again be hosting a little moot in Cabo Wabo Cantina, which will be open until midnight. We do hope that we learn a few helpful hints for the Premiere at the Star Ceremony the day before, so stay tuned to our Facebook Event Page. Numerous cast are slated to attend the premiere.
One helpful suggestion for both events: If you wish to get autographs, make sure to bring with you everything you will need, including a good sharpie pen and the items you want signed. And while large posters or the Chronicles books are lovely items to get signed, you are best bringing something small and easy to carry.
3) Next up on the very busy Hollywood Hobbit tour is Billy Boyd doing a live performance and then CD signing for the new Soundtrack for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Wednesday, December 10. The event will be at the Barnes and Noble at The Grove, starting at 6pm. This will be a Wristbanded event, and they will begin to hand out those wristbands on Tuesday, December 9 at 9am once the soundtrack officially goes on sale. So, if you will be heading to the Premiere, swing past the Grove, pick up your soundtrack and get a wristband. For more details, please visit our Facebook Event Page for more details.
That’s it for next week, but then the film will be released the week after and our line parties kick into full gear.
4) Marathon Monday at the TCL Chinese theater on Monday, December 15 starting at Noon. This will be the first publicly available screening of the final film, and TORn will be there with Trivia, games and prizes for one and all. Please visit the Facebook Event Page.
5) On Tuesday, December 16 at 7pm, the TCL Chinese will hold their first screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in IMAX HFR 3D. More fun and games will ensue. For more details, please visit the Facebook Event page.
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