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Archive for the ‘Cate Blanchett’ Category

TORn staff analyze the new scroll poster for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

The-Hobbit-The-Battle-Of-The-Five-ArmiesThere are just 3 months remaining until the final chapter of The Hobbit saga and the final bit of Middle-earth on film is released, and new images and story tidbits are going to start coming much quicker now. Earlier today we shared the new scrolling poster for this final chapter and now we have some analysis of what can be seen in it from our staff. Of all the new imagery available, there is still nothing of Dain and the wild War Boar he purportedly rides in on, but this scroll does have a few other new tidbits of info in it that are fun to speculate on.

But first, a little editorial note about these scrolls that most of you have probably already noticed, there is a LOT of photoshop involved in putting these together. They cobble together a vast array of characters and settings in order to tell a miniature 2D story with just a few images, and sometimes the photoshop works well, and sometimes not so much. When it does not work out so well, we’ve taken to calling it FrankenPhotoshop, which can be attributed to any image that makes you scratch your head and wonder ‘wait, who is that?’.

So read on to see the TORn staff reactions to the images selected to be in this Scroll, and then feel free to post your own thoughts below. (more…)

Posted in Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, ComicCon, Dean O'Gorman, Evangeline Lilly, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Manu Bennett, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit totally won San Diego Comic-Con. Here are just eight reasons why.

The annual tradition of determining who won or lost at San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing across the blogosphere. The all-volunteer staff of TheOneRing.net (who always attend on their own accord and dime) experienced all the booths, panels and exclusive lines at SDCC 2014.

After taking it all in, here are just a few reasons we think 2014 SDCC belonged to The Hobbit. (more…)

Posted in Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Fans, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Movie, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Manu Bennett, Meet Ups, WETA Workshop

Post Hall H Cast Interviews

SDCC Hobbit BOTFASeveral Cast interviews have started showing up on YouTube after The Hobbit Panel on Saturday.  Message board regular Arannir shared these ones on the boards and we thought we’d share them with you here.  Something else for us all to enjoy while we impatiently await the teaser trailer to appear online.

Posted in Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, ComicCon, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lee Pace, LotR Cast News, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Press Conferences, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Panel, SDCC 2014

Many thanks to Ringer Piet for bringing this video of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Panel to our attention.  Before you get your hopes too high, the teaser trailer has been excised from the video, so it only shows the Panel, but it’s still worth watching for that.  Meanwhile we’ll all keep hoping they’ll release the trailer online soon.

tumblr_mvwwq3Iay01sml467o4_1280

Posted in Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, ComicCon, Conventions, Crew News, Director news, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Studios, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Warner Bros.

The Desolation of Smaug takes over the Jameson Empire Awards

James Nesbitt - BofurThe Jameson Empire Awards 2014 are taking place in London this evening, and folks from The Hobbit cast are there in force!  In fact, the host for the evening is none other than the very charming, smooth talking James Nesbitt.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has already taken the award for Best SciFi/Fantasy movie, with Richard Armitage, Adam Brown and Aidan Turner joining Nesbitt on stage to accept the award.

Turner was soon back on the stage to accept the Best Male Newcomer award (which seems odd, as even if we were only thinking of his career in terms of The Hobbit, this is already the second movie… but we’re happy to see any recognition for Hobbit cast members!)  Empire reports that Bofur was also delighted for Kili: ‘”A gorgeous, multitalented Irishman winning an award for The Hobbit. I couldn’t be happier for him,” says Nesbitt sourly. We’re not sure he’s really so curmudgeonly.’

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Posted in Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, James Nesbitt, Martin Freeman, Other Events, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

How would have Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit looked as a duology?

The Hobbit Bag End Door Originally, Peter Jackson intended his adaptation of The Hobbit to be a two-film effort — a duology.

We’ll never know for certain how it would have turned out, but in this feature TORn writer Captain Salt brings together the known facts to give us some idea of just how it might have shaped up.

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Posted in Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Andy Serkis, Barry Humphries, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, Casting Rumors, Cate Blanchett, Conan Stevens, Dean O'Gorman, Director news, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Graham McTavish, Green Books, Guillermo Del Toro, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, John Bell, John Callen, John Rawls, Ken Stott, Lawrence Makoare, Lee Pace, Locations Sets, Luke Evans, Manu Bennett, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, MGM, Mikael Persbrandt, Peter Hambleton, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, Rob Kazinsky, Ryan Gage, Saoirse Ronan, Stephen Fry, Stephen Hunter, Studios, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Warner Bros., William Kircher

2013 Tolkien Fan Year In Review – TheOneRing.net

For Tolkien fans, 2013 was the year of anticipating the dragon, as fans worldwide grew ever more enthusiastic between the final shot of the billion-dollar “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the opening of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in December. The staff of TheOneRing.net has been privileged to participate in many related events, by fans and for fans, and this ‘year of the dragon’ was more exciting than anyone expected! Take a walk down memory lane with us and peruse chapter 2013 of the “fan book of Westmarch” below:

 

JANUARY

Tolkien Forever “Toast To Tolkien.”

Fans in Los Angeles met at the Cat & Fiddle pub to share a drink and stories of all things Tolkien. The Tolkien Toast is a tradition started by the Tolkien Society to celebrate professor Tolkiens birthday on January 3rd. On that day, fans around the world lift a glass to “The Professor” at 9:00 p.m. local time wherever they may be.

Billy & Dom live fan chat – Merry & Pip reunion special

Our weekly webcast TORn Tuesdays had an exciting January as host Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway snagged an exclusive “reunion” chat with Billy Boyd and Dominic Monahan. Dom discussed the launch of his new series on BBC America: Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, and Billy filled us in on the new album, new album, Blue Sky Paradise, released by his band Beecake.

Dylan Sprouse on TORn Tuesday

Another great TORn Tuesday in January included an interview with guest Dylan Sprouse, star of the hit Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.” A Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award-winner and T.V. star, Dylan chatted about his own, personal love of Tolkien and how generational love of J.R.R. Tolkien is handed down to kids , inspiring them to great things! We hear you, Dylan!

FEBRUARY

Sylvester McCoy live fan chat

TORn Tuesdays spent a full hour with Sylvester McCoy and he even played the spoons! Of course, he also touched on his role as Radagast, the wizard, in The Hobbit movies. Have a look (or another look) at this great interview.

Kiran Shah live fan chat a week later! (Archive not available)

In early February actor and stunt man Kiran Shah joined us for an exclusive live chat on . Kiran shared his experiences as a scale scale double for all 5 Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Bilbo) in the LOTR Trilogy and his return to Middle-earth in The Hobbit movies.

Unexpected Art Show – Los Angeles
Lego Orthanc Art Show Lego Orthanc Art Show

To kick off TORn’s Oscar Party weekend, TORn held ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ at Lot 613, a blank-canvas special events space in the Historic Arts District of downtown Los Angeles.  The show was a unique celebration of artwork from over 30 artists around the world inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Attending in person, and exhibiting their art, were 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 Giancola, Stephen Hickman, and Jay Johnstone.

One Expected Party w/ Dom & Billy and Beecake

Once again, TORn returned to the American Legion in Hollywooed to host the party of all parties on the night of the Academy Awards. Attendees were treated to a live broadcast of the Academy Awards, a photo booth, fabulous food an drink, an amazing auction of LOTR and Hobbit collectibles and the company of Tolkien fans and friends from around the world. Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin, Air New Zealand., Sideshow Toys, The Tolkien Shop, The Noble Collection and Empire Magazine. World-class entertainment at the party included music ensemble Dorian Mirth, Celtic band Emerald Rose, Sir Ian McKellen impersonator Hunter Davis and a grand finale by Billy Boyd’s band, Beecake. Needless to say, a fabulous time was had by all!

MARCH

AUJ released on DVD

Hobbit AUJ DVD

We knew the Extended Edition was coming but fans still bought AUJ on DVD… because we just couldn’t wait to invite Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves into our homes!

DVD press junket (Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman)

While we were all waiting for the release of the AUJ DVD, TORn staffers were able to get exclusive interviews with Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman. In these great interviews, the four talented actors shared their experiences preparing for their roles and filming The Hobbit movies If you listened to them before, they’re well worth another listen. If not, what are you waiting for?!

WonderCon – Anaheim – Panel

On March 31st, at the 2013 Wondercon convention, staffers Garfeimao, Josh and Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway presented a panel titled: “TheOneRing.net’s Unauthorized Sneak Peek: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Upwards of 600 people attended as our staff showed excerpts from the WB DOS sneak peak gave their insights to the latest Hobbit news and rumors. Feedback from the attendees was mega-positive.

Tolkien Reading Day

On the 25th of March, the same day of the destruction of the Ring of Power in The Return of the King, fans gather worldwide to celebrate the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and read favorite passages to each other. Tolkien Reading Day was started by the Tolkien Society and celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. TORn coverage here and here.

APRIL

#VoteBilbo

#VoteBilbo

#VoteBilbo

MTV Movie Awards hosted a fan-voting contest for “BEST HERO” and when we first discovered it, Kirsten Stewart, of Twilight and Snow White fame, was so far ahead of Bilbo it seemed hopeless. Beginning in last place, #VoteBilbo captured the hearts of twitter users around the world and, one by one, Bilbo overtook The Hulk, Batman, Catwoman and Ironman and finally led a heated battle with Snow White herself. An alliance was formed with LOTRProject to track voting in real time and while the battle was epic, and Bilbo came out ahead, the biggest reward was the many new friendships forged over twitter.

C2E2 – Chicago – Panel

TORn staffers were crowd-pleasers once again at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in late April. Staffers entmaiden and Corvar offered a presentation and discussion of all things Hobbit and were a big hit!

MAY

Adam Brown live fan chat

TORn Tuesday did it again with an exclusive interview with actor Adam Brown who plays dward Ori in The Hobbit movies.

The Fall of Arthur published – New Tolkien book

fall of arthurA rare and exciting thin happened in April of 2013: a previously unpublished work of J.R.R. Tolkien was released: The Fall of Arthur. Like too many of his works, the narrative poem, edited by his son Christopher, was never finished. Still, as it is, it covers much of the Arthurian legend including Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, the sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, Mordred and the tormented Lancelot.

Phoenix Comic Con – Panel

Hitting the con circuit again, staffer Garfeimao brought ‘The Desolation of Smaug: Sneak Peek’ panel to Phoenix.

 

JUNE

Trailer 2 released

#Hobbitception Elves reaction video

All the Happy Hobbits, Fili and Kili, set out to do was quickly record their reactions to the 2nd trailer for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” So, still in their pajamas, they set up their camera and started recording their sheer, geeky delight over what they saw. Little did they know that their little recording would be picked up by mainstream news outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Stuff.co.nz. The production and actors also got a kick out of their enthusiasm. From Stuff: “Jackson saw the video and posted it to his Facebook page saying it was “pretty cute”. He then filmed Hobbit cast members Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, and Lee Pace watching their reaction, saying “here’s what I guess you’d call a sequel to that fan video”. More than 20,000 people liked his video of the video, with many applauding Jackson for satisfying The Hobbit’s avid fans. Way to go, Hobbits!

Emporium of Goods launched

Emporium shirts

Fans worldwide submitted t-shirt designs for TheOneRing.net Emporium, and we had a tough time keeping up with demand!

JULY

SDCC – San Diego – Panel & Booth

SDCC 2013 cosplay SDCC 2013 Richard Taylor SDCC 2013 booth
San Diego Comic Con was just as epic as TheOneRing.net shared booth space with the fine folks at WETA Workshop and Badali Jewelry. Cosplay was out in full force, impression the likes of Evangeline Lilly, Manu Bennett, and Richard Taylor.

#ThankYouPJ fan video project


The final day of filming on The Hobbit trilogy inspired fans worldwide to say “Thank You Peter Jackson” for creating films we love.

Tauriel “It IS out Fight!” poster

Tauriel poster We Can Do It
Evangeline Lilly supported our efforts for a 5 Army Solution with an amazing poster designed by Badali Jewelry artist David Powell.

AUGUST

Road To DragonCon

Road to Dragoncon 2013Road To DragonCon Bob BakkerRoad to DragonCon giant rabbits
New adventurers Doug, Ryan and Katalena joined the 3rd annual Road To DragonCon, meeting Tolkien fans across the country.

 Beorn revealed!

Beorn reveal
The blurriest pic to ever fire up Tolkien fandom.

S.H.I.R.E. Project

The-SHIRE-Project-color-copyS.H.I.R.E Project (Sharing The Hobbit to Improve REading) is a new charitable effort started by TheOneRing.net to provide needy schools with copies of Tolkien’s literature. The inaugural drive exceeded all our expectations so look forward to more book-giving efforts in the future.

 

SEPTEMBER

Dragon Con – Atlanta – Four days of programming, celeb panels, a booth and an Epic 80′s Dance Party

DragonCon 2013 panel DragonCon 2013 party DragonCon 2013 party DragonCon 2013 cosplay
DragonCon 2013 was yet again, the most Tolkien-centric event in the nation with four days of wall-to-wall programming from the track “Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” With TORn staffers MrCere, deej, greendragon, and Thorongil running the track, running the fan table to sell shirts and to see folks face-to-face and hosting big stars, this year’s edition also drew new attendees from Twitter and social media.  The presence of stars was bigger than ever with Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, William Kircher and Manu Bennett delighting fans at multiple panels.  In fact, the two dwarf actors appeared on a large-room panel every single day of the convention. But one of the highlights of the week was the first annual Middle-earth Dance Party that created a big stir at a convention with endless entertainment possibilities.

Dragon Con video dance night highlights

Dragon Con ‘Tolkien’s Middle-earth’ track highlights

 

Baggins Birthday Bash – Los Angeles

Baggins Birthday 2013 Baggins Birthday 2013 Baggins Birthday 2013

TORn’s LA staffers hosted their 11th annual Baggins Birthday Bash in Griffith Park where close to 150 fans ate like Hobbits, drank like Dwarves and generally celebrated Bilbo and Frodo’s September 22 birthdays.

OCTOBER

Exclusive set visit reports published

© Larry D. Curtis, TheOneRing.net
Our exclusive set-visit reports and photos from a lengthy stay with much more to come in 2014

NYCC – New York – Panel & Booth

NYCC 2013 NYCC 2013 panel NYCC 2013 booth

TheOneRing.net was once again the only Hobbit content at the New York Comic Con and we’re always proud to represent Tolkien fandom! Our booth (complete with a ‘ring’ of dwarves mounted on the top), staffed by Calisuri, deej, Earl, greendragon, ImladrisRose, Justin, and Thorongil drew many folks eager for some Middle-earth goodies, and we were able to satisfy their craving with our own t-shirts and buttons, as well as Weta collectibles.

 Sean Astin live fan chat

Sean Astin fan chat
Sean Astin recalled his time on LOTR and updated us on his life and his projects since.

NOVEMBER

#HobbitFanEvent

November brought the long-expected “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” fan event hosted by Anderson Cooper in New York. The event was held live in major cities around the world and also online. Per Anderson: “this global fan event is for fans around the world to ask questions of their favorite Hobbit actors and also to see some never before seen footage from the upcoming film. Go here for the video and a full transcript of this exciting event!

AUJ DVD Extended Edition Bluray release

The release of the extended edition of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Blu Ray format had fans around the world scratching their heads in confusion: “So, what version is available where and what is included on how many discs?” TORn to the rescue! Our staff put together this comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to help fans zero in on exactly what they wanted.

DVD-Infographic_v2

Trailer 3

 

TORN Book Club – Show launch

TORN Book Club

 

 

 

 

November brought about the debut of a new weekly live streaming video chat show for Tolkien Fundamentalists and all book lovers. Sundays 3pm PT at http://theonering.net/live

DECEMBER

Premiere – Hollywood – pinch seen ’round the Tumblrs


Although Berlin got the bigger premiere, fans watching Hollywood were most delighted to see a fun moment between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Only TheOneRing.net cameras caught this, inspiring legions of tumblr gifs and validating shippers worldwide.

Press conference transcript
Read what all the stars had to say about “Hobbit: DOS”

Plane unveiling – LAX
AirNZ Smaug Plane Peter Dean Aiden AirNZ Smaug Plane Dean Aiden AirNZ Smaug Plane

As part of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’s premiere festivities, Air New Zealand graciously invited TheOneRing.net to the red carpet reveal of their new Smaug plane! Joining the Happy Hobbits at the event were TORn staffers Quickbeam & Sarumann, who shared a brief moment with director Peter Jackson and actors Aidan Turner (Kili) and Dean O’Gorman (Fili). Check out the pics and video here!

Press Junket – Beverly Hills


Check out our exclusive “Playlist of Desolation.”

William Kircher live fan chat


Bifur himself stops by and gives the scoop on our favorite Dwarf with an axe in his head.

 

FORTH EORLINGAS INTO 2014!

“Tolkien Fandom is the most generous, thoughtful and kind fandom I’ve ever seen.”

- Doug Brochu

Posted in Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Cate Blanchett, ComicCon, Conventions, Crew News, Dan Hennah, Dean O'Gorman, Director news, DragonCon, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Exhibits, Fans, Film Screenings, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, John Bell, John Callen, Lectures & Education, Locations Sets, Mary Nesbit, NYCC, Oscar Parties, Peggy Nesbit, Peter Jackson, Premieres, Production, Richard Armitage, Ryan Gage, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The One Expected Party, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien, William Kircher, WonderCon

Cate Blanchett wins Golden Globe for Best Drama Actress

CateArrivesAtGoldenGlobesCongratulations to our beautiful Elven Queen, Cate Blanchett for winning the Golden Globe for Best Drama Actress in the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine.

(more…)

Posted in Cate Blanchett, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Other Events

Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Extended Edition among best home video editions — ever

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

The home video market is dead or dying — so they say.  The digital age has brought on massive changes on how we view movies and in a relatively short time.  The ways we consumed the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy is vastly different from how we tackle “The Hobbit.”

Many consumers actually jumped to the DVD format from VHS tapes with “Fellowship of the Ring.”  But in the digital revolution, that was ages ago, back when everybody bought movies for home use and there was seemingly ever growing stacks of money to be made from that market.

Studios once had a cash cow in DVDs but the milk has dried up now.  Once, extravagant DVDs and box sets ruled store shelves while today we visit Red Box and Netflix.

So when a Blu-ray like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Extended Edition,” comes to market it is going against the grain, against conventional wisdom and against market trends.  It’s also the best home release of 2013.

The film is still the film.  If you loved it you will love it more.  If you had problems with it, you will still have problems with it.  The added time didn’t fix what people say is broken.  But if you haven’t seen the film, for the home experience, I do recommend the Extended Edition.  The length includes some character moments that make the film more a little more satisfying but not in a major way.  A bathroom break is close to mandatory and while you can’t pause a theater, its easy from your own couch.

But while many think about the movie, make no mistake, the real prize here are The Appendicies content; Those who are only looking at this for the film are missing the point entirely.  In fact, this collection, is itself a tremendous film that would be worth buying even without the cinema release.  The movie itself is essential in the package, but what launches these discs into rare air is everything else that comes with it.

Prone to exercise laudatory caution because I write for TheOneRing, and I realize too much praise causes readers to become dismissive and classify the writer as a fan boy, I still proclaim with no hesitation that this is among the finest home video releases in history.  It sits on a shelf in rarefied air with a very few discs that can even compare.  Among those are the Extended LOTR editions, of which this is a companion piece.

While we are here talking credentials, let me fully disclose that I was on set to witness “The Hobbit,” being filmed for five weeks and I know (and like) many on all sides of the camera.  More than that, I also interned for a couple of weeks with the producers of the behind-the-scenes content.  I am even credited for extra interviews, so take my perceptions as you wish.

Even if you didn’t love the movie, the exploration of the process is a wonder to behold and the whole is a triumph.  And, this triumph comes with WB and MGM financing this content behind-the-scenes content.  This level of excellence doesn’t just happen and it isn’t cheap.  It takes financial commitment, planning and time.  With rumors of late delivery circulating, creating a shortage of discs in some places, I believe I speak for many fans who emphatically say, “So what?  The wait is worth it.”

Despite all the greatness on the discs, there are a few things that are disappointing, so lets start with those.

PACKAGING

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

There is nothing about these covers that are exceptional or especially tasteful to tell consumers that these aren’t just another release on a store shelf.  For some reason, with few exceptions, the marketing at Warner Bros. insists on slapping a bunch of floating character mugshots in a college for these films at every opportunity.  More isn’t better and especially when even the casual audience knows what “The Hobbit,” is.  Nobody is saying, “What? Gandalf is also in this movie?!”

A cover with a central visual idea would be a vast improvement and for these discs, there should be a graceful, classic cover, not a garish collection of floating heads.  Better still would have been a style match with the LOTR EEs. The back of the 3-disc Blu-ray is actually great and would serve as a nice cover.

While we are here, the Bilbo in front of Erebor “Desolation of Smaug,” poster was infinitely more powerful that the nightmare LSD trip of Middle-earth’s usual suspects in the latest one.  Boo.  Very much related, if the Hobbit home video release couldn’t be a stylized match with the LOTR releases, at least we could have had a strong central character instead of a collection of them that says nothing.

Gollum and Bilbo exchanging riddles in the dark might be a place to start.  The film’s strongest sequence, virtually perfect even, highlights a key moment in Middle-earth, sells us a familiar character and gives us an absolute iconic moment from literature.  If things were right in the world, WB would issue an inexpensive replacement slip cover for a couple of dollars that ties this release back to the LOTR EEs.  Seriously.

The art on the discs are quite good.

COMMENTARIES

The commentaries with Philippa Boyens (writer, producer) and Peter Jackson (writer, director, producer) are good, but again, this is meant to be a companion disc and viewers really want more commentary perspectives as they were given in the LOTR discs.  Obviously the filmmaker’s take are essential but including cast or key figures like Dan Hennah or Richard Taylor might be expensive, and not financially viable by the studios, but they are sorely missed.  An unrealistic dream commentary might be to have all 13 main dwarf actors on one track or two tracks with half on each.  Careful sound editing would be needed but Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Graham McTavish, John Callen and William Kircher and all the rest, would be brilliant.  There are two movies left to get this right.

I am sure there are many who will take exception to comparing the discs but for certain, many consumers are doing it. These are intellectually built to go together.

But, lets move on to the good (great) with a look at what is included on most versions of the film.  It is worth noting that there is a Wal-Mart version of the Extended Editions available with minimal extras. (Hate to call them extras because they are main featured content.)  Even if consumers think they want to save a few dollars and get that version, they actually don’t.  There is no circumstance where that option is a wise choice.  Any viewer willing to commit to a three-hour Extended Edition deserves to have the story of the film as well for a few dollars difference.  Friends don’t let friends buy foolishly.

Cate BlanchettDISC 1

Extended Edition of the film with filmmakers’ commentary and
“New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth”

The commentary is mentioned above but the video feature sounds like it might be a commercial for New Zealand.  It is actually, with celebrity endorsements.  Newsflash: New Zealand is amazing.

DISC 2

The Appendices Part 7: A Long-Expected Journey -

This is a timeline of the movie that breaks down into parts how it was made, more or less, following the chronology of the film.  Of course films aren’t made chronologically, but following the organization of the film is helpful.   And the docs aren’t strictly about “how we did this,” as much as they highlight interesting stories from a particular segment of the production.

The beefiest is the first, “The Journey Back to Middle-earth,” which also happens to be excellent.  It follows the almost absurd series of roadblocks that threatened to keep this film from being made.  Viewers who followed TheOneRing will recall those days when it seemed time and again, fate had conspired to kill the film.  This is excellent content that wouldn’t be included on many DVDs of other films.

The studios bravely allowed the team to tackle subjects like the financial problems that almost derailed the films and the hiring and departure of Guillermo del Toro.

It would have been much safer to sanitize these events and it happens on many Hollywood “extras” projects but here they are addressed head on — an impressive inclusion.  That first documentary is a definite highlight but every single one of them holds up high standards of storytelling and visuals that feel as though the essential moments were not only talked about but captured.

Christopher LeeIt is in fact the best big-story view on this topic available in either print or film.  To better understand sitting down and watching “The Hobbit,” in the cinema, this is essential viewing.  It is also great not to start with the first day of pre-production but to have a wider view of the whole works.

One of the best segments, perhaps my favorite, is “A Short Rest: Rivendell and London.”  The fact that the production went to London to film Sir Christopher Lee and Ian Holm is common knowledge.  A lesser documentary might spend its time making just the fact of traveling from New Zealand to London to shoot the focus of the story.  Instead, that is established and then the focus is placed on something far more interesting than it just happening: Lee and Holm.

Jackson and Lee are on camera holding up production so those gathered around can listen to Lee remember parts of his life that are legendary on the silver screen.  He also gives Jackson some good-natured crap and it is respectfully returned.  Graham McTavish and Adam Brown are also on hand, despite not filming, to listen to Lee and help the storytelling by putting his presence in perspective.  It is gold and in fact, it is a pity somebody doesn’t produce an entire film based on the man behind Saruman.

Included in the same section is a pretty incredible give-and-take between Jackson, Cate Blanchett, Fran Walsh on a telephone and Ian McKellen.  They discussed character motivations and all the bigger questions behind the dialog on the script page.  It is pretty incredible.  There are some excellent moments with Hugo Weaving.  It all felt intimate, rare and was fascinating.

There are a lot of bright spots here and in fact they are more or less all bright spots, or will be to somebody.   The producers and director Michael Pellerin seemingly pushed for excellence and achieved it.

HobbitEE_1400x2100_USChapters include:

  • The Journey Back to Middle-earth
  • Riddles in the Dark: Gollum’s Cave
  • An Unexpected Party: Bag End
  • Roast Mutton: Trollshaws Forest
  • Bastion of the Greenwood: Rhosgobel
  • A Short Rest: Rivendell and London
  • Over Hill: The Misty Mountains
  • Under Hill: Goblin Town
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The Forest Ledge
  • Return to Hobbiton: The Shire
  • The Epic of Scene 88: Strath Taieri
  • The Battle of Moria: Azanulbizar
  • Edge of the Wilderland: Pick-ups and the Carrock
  • Home Is Behind, the World Is Ahead

Jackson also appears on an introduction to promise more extended editions with DOS and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”

DISC 3

The Appendices Part 8: RePeter Jackson Laketownturn to Middle-Earth -

This disc delivers production details, some conspicuously missing from the film. For example:

The Company of Thorin -

The families of the dwarves are grouped together to give us more details and insights into these characters and actors. These associations are pretty tough to pick out on screen but are well presented here.  Knowing more about these characters will likely enhance view of “The Desolation of Smaug.”  Pity some of this wasn’t woven into the narrative. If you aren’t keeping score the chapters are, by family:

  • Assembling the Dwarves
  • Thorin, Fili & Kili
  • Balin & Dwalin
  • Oin & Gloin
  • Dori, Nori & Ori
  • Bifur, Bofur & Bombur

Martin Freeman enjoys telling the behind-the-scenes cameras they are number one, always with his middle finger or fingers. Here is another case of content many studios would shy away from, but a short collection of Freeman giving the one-fingered salute is part of the reveal of who this Martin Freeman is.

So in the next segment, and perhaps my favorite on this disc, we meet:

Software brought Gollum's skin to life for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Software brought Gollum’s skin to life for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member

Next we get more tasty features:

  • Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves
  • The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-earth
  • These are broken into chapters:
  • The Stone Trolls
  • Radagast the Brown
  • Goblins
  • Azog the Defiler

Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town — We spend an hour with locations, time well spent.

  • Hobbiton
  • Rhosgobel
  • The Misty Mountains
  • Goblin Town

The Songs of The Hobbit – A look at the realization of Tolkien’s songs in An Unexpected Journey.

This last item is another of my favorites.  It demonstrates that despite being last, it isn’t any less interesting that what came before.  There isn’t fat here to pad out the disc but instead highly polished, carefully produced, interesting, quality content.

TECHNICAL STUFF

wideDwarves0712The movie looks and sounds great, showing off how good Andrew Lesnie and his team are at shooting moving pictures.  How great does it look?  If you go to the audio, visual, home theater or electronics stores, bring the Blu-ray version of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” with you to test out the things you might buy.  The picture is lovely with great details in blacks (Riddles in the Dark) excellent color and all the rich details coming to life.  Hate to sound hyperbolic, but when it comes to audio and visual excellence, this disc is leading the industry.

The sound comes in 7.1 surround, meaning it can send seven sounds to seven speakers to create a sound atmosphere, if you home is equipped, showing off the genuine excellence in sound design through out the film.  This is a noisy movie with loud characters, loud animals and orcs, some dragon scenes, deep rumbling stone giants and lots of general chaos.

But, the dialog is always ready and easy to hear, including some pretty subtle Ian McKellen lines that come through just fine.  In fact, if you have the proper system in your home, sitting in the middle of the sound environment, closing your eyes and just listening is a real pleasure.

FINAL TAKE

This movie is worth owning a Blu-ray player for.  The film, no matter how much you like it or don’t, is technically amazing.  The extra scenes improve it slightly but just as importantly, there is a wealth of documentaries that are collectively and individually great and paint an excellent picture of what made “The Hobbit,” happen.  I meant it when I said it above, this is among the finest home video releases in history.  Minor quibbles aside, MGM and Warner Bros. did right by fans and this does stand alongside its LOTR EE predecessors.  While this film doesn’t extended as much or as importantly, its extras are as good and perhaps better.

 

 

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Posted in Blu-Ray, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Director news, DVDs, Fran Walsh, Guillermo Del Toro, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, MGM, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Production, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Warner Bros.

Cate Blanchett’s long wait

Cate Blanchett Between now and the morning of January 16, 2014, Cate Blanchett is set to be one very busy lady.

January 16 is the date when the 2014 Oscar nominations are revealed and Blanchett has already been widely tipped to take out the best actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed riches-to-rags film Blue Jasmine.

But first she has to be nominated, not to mention survive the other warm-up awards, from the Screen Actors Guild to the Golden Globes, though it is undoubtedly the Oscars which remain the big daddy when it comes to Hollywood gongs. (more…)

Posted in Cate Blanchett, Hobbit Cast News

Win a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Visual Companion that has been signed by the cast members!

The Hobbit Visual Companion Our friends at Harper Collins — the publishers of Tolkien in the UK -– tell us that they’re running another competition in addition to their How do you see Smaug? that is on right now.

This new competition offers the chance to win The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Visual Companion signed by four members the cast — Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Richard Armitage. (more…)

Posted in Books Publications, Cate Blanchett, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit

Cate Blanchett to make her movie directing debut

MV5BMTc4NTIwNTI4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODM0MjMz__V1_SY317_CR9,0,214,317_Our beautiful Lady Galadriel, actress Cate Blanchett, is going to make her feature film directorial debut.  Ms Blanchett, who has previously directed for the stage, will film a psychological thriller, which will be an adaptation of Herman Koch’s novel The Dinner.  You can read more about Ms Blanchett’s planned debut behind the camera at Deadline Hollywood, here.

Thanks to Ringer spy Owain for the heads up!

Posted in Cate Blanchett, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, The Hobbit