As many of you already know, there is sad news in our community of fans today: Sir Christopher Lee passed away Sunday morning at the age of 93 due to respiratory problems and heart failure. Of course, we all came to know and love him for his role as the evil wizard, Saruman, in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, a role that came at the end of a long, and very distinguished career as an actor in horror movies and other dramas. For many of us, it’s difficult to picture a better Count Dracula than Christopher Lee. But, for many more of us, it’s impossible to think of anyone else playing the role of Saruman. All of the professionalism, passion and dedication of his long career shone out in that role, making it perfection.Posted in Christopher Lee, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie The Two Towers, The Hobbit, Uncategorized
Archive for the ‘Christopher Lee’ Category
A true titan of cinema if there ever was one, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the shoes of the great wizard Saruman the White. We hope you had a wonderful birthday and we wish you many happy returns, Sir Christopher! (more…)Posted in Christopher Lee, Headlines
I think we posted this on Facebook a couple weeks back, but I love me some Christopher Lee metal — especially Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.
For the last few Decembers, Lee has also been releasing metal-themes Christmas tunes, putting his own inimitable stamp on classics such as The Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night Holy Night.
Now he has a new single: Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing. (more…)Posted in Christopher Lee, Hobbit Cast News
Maybe not – but certainly this is the final film in what is now Peter Jackson’s sextuplet of Middle-earth movies. And I was lucky enough to see it today.
Here are some spoiler-free first impressions:
It is a beautiful film. So many lovely moments – great acting from our dwarf cast (who have very few lines amongst them, but who do wonderful, expressive things facially and with body language). Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans and Richard Armitage are as fabulous as they have been throughout these films.
John Bell (Bain, son of Bard) is a stand out ‘supporting role’ in this film. There is a scene between him and his father Bard which is especially moving – it was the first scene in the film to make me cry! From the dwarves, Ken Stott (Balin) and Graham McTavish (Dwalin) both have well scripted, skilfully played scenes.
Christopher Lee is fantastic – Saruman is a force to be reckoned with in this film, even though he only appears briefly!
There are some typically over the top, ‘PJ’ moments – bits which made me roll my eyes, but which, on the whole, we’ve come to expect from this playful director. Legolas does more than shield-surfing in this movie… But when it comes to the quiet, downplayed moments, this stellar cast don’t let us down. I was moved to tears often; the scene when Bilbo takes his final leave from the company of dwarves is beautifully touching.
Howard Shore’s score is as effective as ever, and of course the production and costume design are wonderful. Is this the best of the three Hobbit movies? Maybe. I need to see it again to decide. Does it rise to the height of the Lord of the Rings movies? In places, yes. There are scenes of spectacular depth and emotion, as well as that incredible New Zealand scenery. There are CGI moments which, for me, are jarring – vast hordes of soldiers where it is all too obvious that the same CGI character is repeated multiple times – but on the whole, not so many in this film as there were in The Desolation of Smaug.
There are small things I might wish to change, but overall, this is a satisfying end to this trilogy – and a pleasing ‘lead in’ to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tonight on the red carpet, Peter Jackson asked me who would be the first person to watch all six films in order. I can’t wait to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies again; and I can’t wait to watch this film ‘in situ’ with the other five movies. It’s a worthy, emotional part of our Middle-earth journey; a three tissue film for me! We went there; we’ve come back again; and the journey has been well worth it.
Join us in Los Angeles in February at The One Last Party
We’re inviting you to join us and make it happen through our Indiegogo campaign — so we can all celebrate Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies together!Posted in Christopher Lee, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, John Bell, Ken Stott, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Christopher Lee has precisely one line in the recent trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, but his little cameo was an unsurprising winner with fans. And, apart from reinforcing that stuff is always better with Chris Lee (maybe Chris can do all the voices for BOTFA — that would be ace!), it also sparked a surprising amount of speculation about Saruman’s intentions in desiring to confront Sauron alone.
Now, we can’t say how the confrontation occurred in canon: we know little more than that the White Council put forth its strength, that Saruman played an important role, and that Sauron deliberately withdrew as he had anticipated and planned for the actions of the Wise. Had Sauron, in fact, already fled? It’s a legitimate interpretation of the texts. However, Tolkien’s writings are a lot more informative about when Saruman “left the path of wisdom”. In this feature, Tedoras examines what The Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales, and The Silmarillion have to tell us about Saruman’s fall.
Posted in Christopher Lee, Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Two Towers, Trailer
There 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
Christopher Lee turned 92 just last week. Naturally, he marked the big day with the release of a new mini-album — Metal Knight.
Lee is well-known for his devotion to fantasy and heavy metal themes, and already boasts a number of album releases and collaborations in the genre — the first with Italian Symphonic Metal band Rhapsody of Fire a decade ago. In June 2010, he received the Spirit of Metal gong at the Golden Gods Awards from Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) for his work on Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross and his contribution to metal themes on the silver screen.
And last Christmas, his rendition/affectionate parody of Jingle Bells (retitled Jingle Hell) peaked at number 18 in the Billboard Charts. That feat made Lee — at the age of 91 — the oldest performer to ever chart on Billboard. (more…)Posted in Christopher Lee, Hobbit Cast News
If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman and his fantasy novel Neverwhere, here’s a treat for you -– BBC Radio 4 is re-broadcasting the for-radio version that proved a hit earlier this year. No wonder that it was popular considering it features the following cast: James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew, Natalie Dormer as Door, Benedict Cumberbatch as The Angel Islington, Anthony Stewart Head as Croup and Christopher Lee as The Earl of Earl’s Court (to name a few).
Three episodes have already aired (and can still be listened to on the Beeb website) while the remainder will air over the next few nights at 11:30pm GMT, up until Monday December 30. Go and have a listen over on the Radio 4 website and enjoy. (more…)Posted in Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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.
- 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.”
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:
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
- Azog the Defiler
Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town — We spend an hour with locations, time well spent.
- 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Sir Christopher Lee, one of the great figures of cinema, has been honoured by his industry with a fellowship from the British Film Institute, its highest accolade.
The actor, who is 91 and still working, received the award last night at the 57th BFI London Film Festival. Previous recipients of the fellowship include Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton, David Cronenberg and Ralph Fiennes.
Sir Christopher said: “It is a great privilege to be included amongst such a distinguished group of predecessors who have received this award.” (more…)Posted in Christopher Lee, Hobbit Cast News
What will you be doing on your 91st birthday? If you are Sir Christopher Lee, you are releasing a heavy metal album based on the life of the French ruler Charlemagne. Recorded with Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death is the follow-up to Lee’s 2010 release Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross. One can only hope to be so active in their Nineties! [Audio CD] [MP3 Download] [Vinyl]
Lee was born in Belgravia, Westminster, England on May 27th 1922 – making him exactly 91 years old today. We all know his work as Saruman in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, but did you know Sir Lee holds the world record for most film acting roles ever ! We at TheOneRing.net would like to continue to offer a good pint of well-earned ale as a toast to a true master of his craft! A better portrayal of Saruman there will never be! Cheers!Posted in Christopher Lee, Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Cast News, Other Events, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Community
To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Australia on May 1st, Popcorn Taxi had a special showing of the film with a Q&A session with Richard Armitage. RingerSpy and long time message board member, Deleece Cook aka Elven, was lucky enough to attend and sent us the following report on the night.Posted in Benedict Cumberbatch, Cast Q&A, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Director news, DVD/Blu-Ray, Elijah Wood, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, John Howe, Martin Freeman, Mikael Persbrandt, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Press Conferences, Richard Armitage, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey