Before I begin this review, I want to give a short blurb and let you all know from what perspective it comes from. I am an artist of sorts, so I definitely touch upon some of the visuals used in the films. I am also one of the younger members of TORn’s staff and did not pick up Tolkien’s books until after I saw the “really cool trailer” of ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ on TV back in my preteens. But despite Jackson’s films introducing me to Middle-earth, I have ultimately become a Tolkien fan with a good amount of appreciation for what the cast and crew behind Jackson’s Middle-earth adaptations have done for both the film industry and for the Tolkien legendarium, despite the many changes.Posted in Film Screenings, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Media Reviews, Uncategorized
Archive for the ‘Film Screenings’ Category
Additional characters aside, as they were all known before going in so they can’t be a surprise anyhow, here is a list of things that have surprised audiences in ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ this past week since the film’s release.
1) Legolas got a bloody nose, which seemed to surprise him almost as much as it surprised the audience. He’s never been wobbly in a battle before, not sure if that is going to make him more cautious or not as he chases after Bolg, the one who inflicted the injury.
2) Smaug seems surprisingly well informed. He knew that Thorin had earned the nickname of Oakenshield while out in Middle-earth after the fall of Erebor. Smaug also seems fully aware that a Dark Power is rising and that there is an impending war coming. Now if we can just figure out who is feeding him this intel.
3) A Wind Lance, really? Not a standard Long Bow? How disappointing, although it is wicked cool looking and realistically makes more sense, it is not the image most fans were expecting from Bard the Bowman.
4) So Kili gets injured and is left behind in Lake-town, along with 3 other Dwarves. Wow! the Breaking of the Company. The fact he was injured by a Morgul bladed arrow was also a surprise.
5) The Orcs were chasing the Dwarves down the river and fighting the Elves in full sunlight? What’s up with that?
6) The other surprising bit with Smaug is that he could sense the Ring’s presence and by force of will convince Bilbo to take the Ring off. Yipes! It’s a power similar to that of the Nazgul.
7) Back to Bree we go, and this time the guy sitting in the corner is actually dangerous, and that dude munching on a carrot is back.
8) The Spiders did speak, but only Bilbo can hear them when he wears the Ring. Well, except for when he took the Ring off and stabbed that one spider, who then says “it stings” before dying, giving Sting it’s name. So the Spider’s speaking was a surprise, and the way it was handled was a surprise, but there is at least one inconsistency to this plot device. Does anyone care about that? Probably not, cause the spiders were creepy as all heck.
9) Gandalf entering Dol Guldur alone, first facing Azog and having to resort to trickery to get away, and then the big face off with the Necromancer, who reveals himself fully to Gandalf. The endless emptiness that is Sauron is epic.
10) While not surprised that the molten hot gold did not seem to injure Smaug, the most surprising bit in that whole sequence was just how transfixed Smaug was when the Golden Dwarf statue was revealed. He looked like an animal caught in a Cobra’s stare, which is probably the reverse of what Smaug normally encounters.Posted in Aidan Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dean O'Gorman, Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Lawrence Makoare, Luke Evans, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I know some people are not happy with The Desolation of Smaug. I’ll start my review by saying that I have read The Hobbit yearly since 1973. I’ve read The Lord of the Rings yearly since 1971. I love the books and the stories. I also love Peter Jackson’s telling of those tales. So when I went to see a double-feature of The Hobbit to include AUJ and a midnight, first-time viewing of DOS, I went without the book as my expectation and eager for the adventure into Middle-earth as only Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh can serve. I was not disappointed!Posted in Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Media Reviews, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, TheOneRing.net Community
Editor Note: Our next review comes from long time collaborator and friend of TheOneRing.net, David Baxter. David has been involved in some manner with TheOneRing.net since the early 2000s, and is a staple at events in California. Being that he is 6’8″ – he makes a really impressive Gandalf too!
Let me get this out of the way, I did not go into the screening of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug expecting to see all or even many of the events I’d pictured in my head after reading JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and seeing the Rankin & Bass animated version in 1977 (dating myself here). It was impossible after seeing Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Too much of that film had been devoted to setting up or showing events that were never shown in Tolkien’s work and were only mentioned in the appendices of The Return of the King.Posted in Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Media Reviews, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Dan Hennah, Academy Award winner and nominee just last year, talked about Middle-earth movies and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” with TheOneRing.net last week while he stood inside the re-creation of Beorn’s house! Hennah and his wife Chris run the Art Department of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies and from concept to shoot day, makes the items and sets happen. He is a pretty incredible guy, right up there with Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor as one of New Zealand’s most amazing individuals. Part of our series of video interviews to get you ready for the World Premiere of the newest Middle-earth film!Posted in Characters, Dan Hennah, Director news, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Locations Sets, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Premieres, Press Conferences, Production, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
BEVERLY HILLS — On the same day that fans and journalists lined the streets of Hollywood to celebrate the World Premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Martin Freeman chatted with TheOneRing.net about what it was like to play opposite a dragon. He also discussed the work of other fine actors on set including Sir Ian McKellen and Morgan Freeman! The video is part of a series today to usher in the midnight release of the film (more or less) around the world.
See also: An interview with Richard ArmitagePosted in Characters, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Lectures & Education, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, Premieres, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Editor Note: Our latest staff review comes from staffer Arwen.
As a word of warning, Arwen’s review has SPOILERS from the very beginning. If you are avoiding spoilers of any type, please know — you have been warned!
====SPOILER SPACE====Posted in Film Screenings, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Media Reviews, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Editor Note: Our latest staff review comes from staffer and second half of the Happy Hobbit team, Fili. The Happy Hobbits were TheOneRing.net official representatives at the ‘black’ carpet premiere of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ this past Monday in Hollywood, CA. (You can see the unedited video coverage in our uStream archive)
As a word of warning, Fili’s review is filled with SPOILERS from the very beginning. If you are avoiding spoilers of any type, please know — you have been warned!
======= SPOILERS START NOW =======Posted in Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Media Reviews, The Hobbit, Uncategorized
Our third staff review comes from Sarumann, host of our LIVE Weekly Program ‘TORn Book Club.’ He will be hosting a special early discussion at 11am PST today (all timezones) at our LIVE event page as a follow-up to this review. Please note, the LIVE event will be spoiler-free and allow participants to ask those burning questions about the film. As for the review, he notes clearly where spoilers begin in the review:
Let me state for the record right away that I thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I found it to be a fun thrill ride with tons of spectacular visual and technical feats that go beyond anything we have seen thus far from these films. While there certainly are things I wish were done a little differently, my overall feeling as I left the theater was one of genuine satisfaction and excitement for the next film.
Having said that, I also feel that I fall within one of two “camps” that are likely going to arise among fans: Those who love it and accept the myriad alterations within it, and those who can’t stand it and feel that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have finally gone too far with their artistic license. I fully expect to meet as many fans who agree with my assessment of the film as I will fans who believe I am crazy and delusional. Hard lines will be drawn in the sand, and many a heated debate will rage for months and perhaps even years following the release.
I was asked, on a scale of 1-10, how much did Jackson and Company diverge from the text, and I can best put it this way. If the more controversial divergences from The Lord of the Rings (Faramir taking Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath, Frodo sending Sam away, etc.) were to rate a 5 or 6 on this scale, then The Desolation of Smaug clocks in at about an 8 or a 9. There are alterations, expansions, completely new plot threads and, of course, an entirely new main character. How fans react to this is going to be varied and loud. I can’t discuss those too much without getting into heavy spoilers, so I’ll save that for later. For now, I’ll focus on my general feelings without getting too specific.
Let’s begin with the few things that I didn’t care for. While An Unexpected Journey felt perhaps a bit bloated and padded at times, The Desolation of Smaug suffers most to me from the exact opposite problem. I felt that there were many pieces missing here. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t able to follow what was happening, but there were definitely a number of moments where I got the distinct impression that something that would have helped contextualize or round out a scene was cut.
Another thing that I felt was a drawback was a number of foreshadowing of moments in The Lord of the Rings that felt like very heavy-handed fan-service callbacks. While some were definitely there as actual plot points, there were more than a few that felt unnecessary, and may have been better suited for the Extended Edition. They never felt as overblown or pandering as moments like these felt in, say, the Star Wars prequels or Star Trek Into Darkness, but I wasn’t a huge fan of them overall.
The film did excel for me in many places, and in a few others, exceeded some already very high expectations. Smaug in particular is a wonder to behold, and will no doubt be one of the crowning achievements of this trilogy. There are amazing action sequences that are true thrill-ride quality, and many insights into the characters and the overall story that I never would have seen otherwise. Ultimately, this movie worked for me on many more levels than it didn’t, and next December can’t come soon enough.
From here on out, I’ll be going into mild spoiler territory. Consider yourself warned.
We’ll start with the barrel-riding sequence. While some may feel that this sequence is overdone, and feels more like a video game, I still enjoyed it immensely. It is action-packed and full of great visual comedy moments right along with some truly impressive stuntwork. Keeping spoilers to a minimum here, I will give a little tease and state for the record that Bombur is now my hero.
The big controversy among fans from the outset was the addition of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a Sylvan Elf character who was not in the book or any of Tolkien’s ancillary work. It seemed to me that fans warmed to her once we started to see her in action in the trailers, and continued to warm when Lilly spoke publicly about being a big Tolkien fan herself. Now that I’ve seen her fully realized and integrated into the story, I am 100% on board with her inclusion. Tauriel is a forward-thinking character who is able to see the bigger picture of what is happening more than her own King, and she is willing to put words into action without hesitation. Lilly’s performance is also some of the best I’ve seen from her (and this is coming from somebody who watched Lost all the way to the bitter end).
On the subject of her King, Lee Pace is pitch perfect as Thranduil, the King of the Greenwood. He is intimidating, regal and clearly stuck in his old ways. His conversation with Thorin brings some fantastic insight into why he abandoned the Dwarves of Erebor in their time of need. His cool elegance may be the best Elf performance I’ve seen since Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel in Fellowship.
The last Elf I will talk about is, of course, Legolas. While not specifically in the book himself, his inclusion is not something that feels wholly outside of the realm of possibility. Having said that, Orlando Bloom’s performance here felt somewhat lacking to me. Even though he is Thranduil’s son and a Prince of the Woodland Realm, he comes off feeling more like just another soldier in his army, albeit a high-ranking one. He is still able to pull off some incredible stunts, and he handles a bow and sword as well as he ever did in The Lord of the Rings, but this is also a very different Legolas from what we saw before. He is just as closed-minded as his father, and it seems to me that Tauriel will play a crucial role in his transformation from what he is now to what he will become in the future (or the past – it’s all wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey prequel stuff).
While I would love to go through all of the performances of the main characters in this, there just isn’t time. I’ll simply focus on some of the stand-outs for me. Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman both turn in exceptional performances as Thorin and Bilbo. The big theme with both of them in this movie is corruption – Thorin by the Arkenstone and Bilbo by the Ring. As the Company gets closer and closer to the Lonely Mountain, we see Thorin’s growing desperation to claim the Arkenstone. We also see Bilbo starting to slowly lose control of himself as he uses the Ring more and more. Both of them portray their individual slides with exceptional subtlety.
Ian McKellan, as always, is just the perfect Gandalf. This film dedicates more time to him and Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) investigating the possible dark power that was uncovered in the first movie. Without giving away too much, it does build up to a very intense and powerful reveal.
There is also the introduction of Luke Evans as Bard, and this movie does a fantastic job of fleshing out his character beyond what we see in the book. He is a man who holds the protection and preservation of Lake-town above all things. He also has an excellent backstory that helps emphasize why he is the way he is, and how his own family history is tied to Smaug.
Two characters that I felt received some short shrift in this movie were the Master of Lake-town (Stephen Fry) and Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt). Neither of them have as much screen time as I was hoping, especially when they both are portrayed so compellingly. I do hope that we see more of both of them in the Extended Edition.
Lastly, and most importantly, we come to the dragon Smaug. With nearly two full movies building up to his encounter with Bilbo, expectations for this character were undoubtedly very high. For me, these expectations were exceeded in the most glorious way. Smaug is so wonderfully designed and animated that he more than lives up to his reputation. Add to that the amazing voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, and you have a villain who is truly worthy of all the buildup. Smaug may be the best CG character I’ve seen in these movies since Gollum. His conversation with Bilbo is so breathtaking and sinister that I didn’t want it to end.
While this movie does diverge from the source more so than any other Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movie to date, I personally did not feel that it detracted from the story in any way. None of the movies have ever been slavishly faithful to Tolkien’s written word, but they have all made for compelling and entertaining movies that tell tremendous stories masterfully, and The Desolation of Smaug is no exception.
I can see, however, many fans walking away from this movie feeling that this franchise has gone off the rails and into the world of self-indulgence. We all have our opinions and expectations, but I personally do not hold to the idea that Jackson, Walsh and Boyens have gone too far. One thing that must be remembered overall is that this is just one interpretation of a 75-year-old story. Do I think it is a good interpretation? Absolutely! Can I see how others may not see it that way? Of course. Seeing another’s interpretation of a story is fascinating, and can oftentimes provide insight into the text you may never have seen yourself despite multiple readings. Interpretations can also provide insights that you may personally feel are incorrect, and I have no doubt that fans will discuss their own personal reactions to them at great length. And that’s as it should be. I’m much more pleased by a movie that sparks heated debate than I am one that just paints by numbers and leaves the audience shrugging in apathy.
For my part, I see the passion the filmmakers have for this project exploding off of every frame of these movies, and it draws me in every time. While we have a glut of movies that seem to be made by people who almost resent that they have to do it in first place – either through studio mandate or the promise of a big payout and reputation boost – it’s refreshing to see a big budget film made with love. Whatever else may be said about the cast and crew of these movies, their love for Tolkien and this world cannot be denied. And to those who will ultimately take to the internet decrying that this movie has ruined the book, I say this: Nobody is going to the publisher and forcing them to pulp all existing copies of The Hobbit and replace them with a new version based on these movies. The book is still there, and will always be there. Our imaginations create our own vision of what we read, and no movie is ever going to be the perfect match to that – unless you’re making it yourself, of course.
I won’t say how far into the story this film takes us by the end, but I will say that the year-long wait between this and the third installment, There and Back Again, is going to be interminable. Most second-part installments in trilogies have the problem of starting in mid-stream and ending on a particularly dark cliffhanger. While The Desolation of Smaug certainly does both, it is ultimately a thrilling ride that left me walking out of the theater fully satisfied and eager for more.
Posted in Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Media Reviews, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
We have just under a week until Tolkien fans around the world will pile into theaters for their first glimpse of the Chiefest of all Calamities, Smaug himself, along with Beorn, the giant spiders, and the treasures of Erebor. We set up Line Parties so that fans can arrange to see the movie with fellow fans, both friends known and friends yet to be met. But we’ve apparently had some Goblins get into our servers and create a bit of havoc with the Line Party pages, so we have a couple work around options.
Not all of the Lines are posting in the public ‘Community’ area set up for them, you are only seeing 10 events at a time. All current Lines will be listed at the end of this story. And instead of being interactive, people have not been able to select the ‘Join Now’ button, so we have been encouraging Line Party Leaders to include a Facebook Event page, but not everyone is on facebook. You can still use the program to create a new Line Party yourself, or if you encounter problems, email me at Garfeimao@TheOneRing.net and I’ll help you get started. If you email me to ask that I help create the line party for you, I will need the Full name and address of the theater, the start time and date of the event (is it Thursday midnight screening or on a Friday evening or Saturday matinee?). A Facebook Event link would also be really helpful.
Here comes the list of currently existing Line Parties. If you see one near you that you might like to attend, click the link to get the address and start time and hopefully there is a Facebook event page for you to reach out to your Line Party Leader. If you don’t see a Line Party near you, why not start one yourself? And while I am talking about that, where are our International Line Parties this year? Come on London, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Australia, why not jump in and put up some Line Parties in your area? Current Line Party Leaders, if you need help editing or updating your Line listing, drop me a note.
List of Line Parties
TCL Chinese Theater, Hollywood CA – December 12, 6pm start
Arclight Hollywood, CA – Cinerama Dome – December 12, 7pm start
Happy Hobbit DOS Line Party, Scott’s Valley CineLux, CA – December 12, 5pm start
Portland area line party, Bridgeport Regal, Tigard OR – December 12, 7pm start
Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21, Irvine CA – December 12, 6pm start
AMC NorthPark 15, Dallas TX – December 12, 6pm start
AMC Concord Mills 24, Concord NC – December 12, 6pm start
AMC Empire 25, Times Square, New York NY – December 12, 11:59pm start
Superstition Springs 25, Mesa AZ – December 12, 11:59pm start
UEC Theaters 14, Cleveland TN – December 12, 11:59pm start
Galaxy Theatres, Tulare CA – December 13, 11:30am start (online giveaway)
Cinema West, Mason City IA – December 12, 11pm start
Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX, Silver Spring MD – December 12, 7pm start
Regal Atlantic Station Stadium 16, Atlanta GA – December 12, 8pm start
MGN Five Star Cinema, Glendale CA – December 12, 8pm
AMC Veterans 24, Town & Country FL – December 12, 8pm start
Ashland Street Cinema, Ashland OR – December 12, 8:30pm start
Cinemark Valley View, Valley View OH – December 12, 9pm start
AMC Loews, West Nyack NY- December 12, 9:15pm start
Boston AMC Loews Downtown, Boston MA – December 12, 10pm start
AMC Showplace 12, Bloomington IN – December 12, 10pm start
Rave Motion Pictures at Milford Post Mall, Milford CT – December 12, 10pm start
Posted in Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Line Party, Meet Ups, Other Events, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien
Editor Note: Our second staff review comes from staffer and author, Kili – Yes, half of the Happy Hobbit team. The Happy Hobbits were TheOneRing.net official representatives at the ‘black’ carpet premiere of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ this past Monday in Hollywood, CA. (You can see the unedited video coverage in our uStream archive)
As a word of warning, Kili’s review is filled with SPOILERS from the very beginning. If you are avoiding spoilers of any type, please know — you have been warned!
======= SPOILERS START NOW =======
I have never been in more denial of a black screen than I was when Bilbo’s distraught face smashed to darkness. The seconds seemed to crawl by long enough for me to think it was a trick and that more footage was coming, but then the words “Directed by Peter Jackson” appeared on the screen, and the heart-wrenching truth was evident: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had ended. I am still appalled that I have to wait a year to find out what happens next. None of the Lord of the Rings films ever came close to this type of cliff hanger. It’s like going on a roller coaster then when you reach the top of the biggest hill, you don’t get to go down, and I mean that in the best way possible.Posted in Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Experience ‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ red carpet with TORn; interviews with Martin, Lilly, Dean, Aidan and more!
LOS ANGELES — TheOneRing.net covered all kinds of events this week surrounding the World Premiere of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” None was more exciting than the film’s red (black) carpet experience where the stars can greet fans and walk the press line to talk about the film.
Many clips end up on news and entertainment websites but we bring you an edited version with our own Happy Hobbits behind the microphones and in front of the stars including Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, William Kircher, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, Philippa Boyens, Manu Bennett, Ryan Gage, Sean Astin, Ed Sheeran and the already-famous pinch from Benedict Cumberbatch.Posted in Aidan Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Crew News, Dean O'Gorman, Ed Sheeran, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Joe Letteri, Luke Evans, Manu Bennett, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Premieres, Ryan Gage, Sean Astin, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, TheOneRing.net Community, William Kircher