The danger will ramp up once the Company enters Mirkwood.
Another review from a staffer of TORN long ago, Wee Tanya brings her thoughts to you now.
Warning before you begin: Spoilers abound in this review. Read it or not, it’s up to you.
Tonight I had the extreme pleasure of watching a press screening of The Hobbit on behalf of TheOneRing.net. Not only was I ushered into the screening like an honored guest, but TheOneRing.net’s name is still renown, and I was even introduced by the night’s host to the whole crowd as “Wee from TORn”. Then he grilled me on Tolkien trivia, but don’t worry, I did us proud.
Much like Arathorn I’ve been keeping a low, spoiler-free profile for the past ten years. Life happened, and I managed to drift far enough away from the ride that when I caught up with Peter Jackson’s video diaries, I spent an entire evening watching every one. Fine, maybe I’m not totally unspoiled. But there I sat as the theater darkened, not knowing what to expect at all except for two things: first, that suddenly there were three movies instead of two; and second, that someone actually called the movie boring!
I’d like you all to know that it was not boring, not a jot. The pace is beautiful, lyrical even, and in the middle of Rivendell it slows to the stately walk of Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel. But it might seem slow at first because there is a LOT of tale to tell. Bilbo begins even before “Concerning Hobbits,” back in the dark days of the Silmarillion, and establishes the sacking of Erebor and Dale before we even know what a Hobbit is! In my opinion this was necessary, because it opens up a wider world to stare at (in awe) before the camera pulls back to the familiarity of Bag End. I wanted the camera to pause at every detail of Erebor, because it was stunning. It echoes the designs of Moria from the first movies, but amplified, because it is a Dwarven city at the height of its glory instead of one abandoned.
I admit that my eyes started leaking the second I saw Bilbo put pen to paper, and I have to applaud the larger-story continuity of the first scene. It begins on the very same day as Fellowship of the Ring, and shows Bilbo writing in the Red Book, expanding upon his story (which we all know he finishes up in retirement in Rivendell, so it’s even more touching to see this flow). Ian Holm is the first Bilbo that we see, and he’s perfect, of course. Elijah Wood’s Frodo wanders through, giving the scene even more continuity as we see Bilbo watch him leave — little does Bilbo know, Frodo is off to his own adventure. And then Gandalf shows up, and after that come dwarves and more dwarves, and the story is up and running.
But whose story? I’d like to posit that this movie is actually Gandalf’s story. Ian McKellen’s expressive eyes hold the heart of the plot, which for this movie boils down to, “Did Gandalf do well in choosing this particular burglar for the company?” McKellen must have some kind of meticulous timeline of Gandalf’s life in his head, because he can step back into the role of a younger, less secure, less shiny Gandalf with exquisite ease. Gandalf’s growth as a wizard is what’s tested here, and that stately-walking scene in Rivendel (which might be slow to some) is a fine moment in which we see Gandalf squirming in his seat, while his peers probe him: is this decision to help the dwarves really a good one? Can he back Radagast’s claim that the Necromancer is back, against the (slightly less Palantir-addled) Saruman? We’re not sure, and neither is he.
There are a few set pieces in this movie that all true fans expected, and all of them deliver. I was pleased to hear many songs meandering through Bilbo’s larder (That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!), and while the cut was more like a fan’s extended version than Hollywood might want, in short: F*** ’em. Peter Jackson gave me the story that I would’ve bought and watched in an extended version anyway, and I’m overjoyed that a third movie gave him the space to spread out and tell the tale as it was told in the books. Did the set piece with the trolls feel the way it did in the book? Of course. And I even squinted at them to make sure they were in the same position that Frodo finds them in, in Fellowship of the Ring. (SEE, Peter Jackson? You knew we’d keep track.)
As for Smaug, we saw some beautifully filmed teasing, but the Big Bad (ok, Medium Bad; the Big Bad is the Necromancer) is being saved for the final film. In a nice visual paeon to a certain Dark Lord, the movie ends with a thinly-slit reptilian eye. Symbolism, I get it! Other beautiful moments for Tolkien fans abound. Watch for: That Moment when Bilbo stays his hand instead of slaying Gollum. Watch for: The intricately designed beauty of each and every domain, including the goblin kingdom above Gollum’s layer. Watch for: FIGWIT.
I won’t discuss Riddles in the Dark, because it’s perfectly done.
What did I dislike? Well. Radagast was saved from being cute by his Peter Jackson-grossness (is that BIRD POO ON HIS FACE? Oh God of course it is), his plot explicated neatly from the Silmarillion. Radagast was necessary for getting information about Mirkwood over to the rest of the world. It’s a fan’s retelling of how it happened, and I’ll pretend that Fran and Phillipa heard it from local lore, the kind of stories that might appear at the Prancing Pony.
In short, I loved this movie, and I want more. Two more. Fine, take my money, and show me as many movies as you want!
Editor Note: Arathorn was an original staffer of TheOneRing.net back in the early days of the site. His involvement in the site has waned in recent years due to professional and familial responsiblities. His perspective on ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is unique as he has remained completely unspoiled and out-of-the-loop for nearly 10 years. Spoilers Ahead!
So, the question you probably want to hear answered is how The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey compares with LoTR. From my perspective, it’s pretty favourable – it worked much better for me than RoTK and FoTR, and probably slightly better than TTT. For context however, this is coming from someone who seriously undermined their enjoyment of LoTR by spoiling themselves rotten – whereas I’ve deliberately kept myself unspoilt for The Hobbit.
The pacing of The Hobbit: AUJ is gentler and more consistent than LoTR – the storytelling unfolds at a much more metered and less rushed pace. At no point did I feel bored – it felt like a leisurely but appropriate telling of the story. Also, where story padding is added, it generally feels that it’s actually dramatically required in order to provide additional context for the ‘real’ story, rather than a jarring and illadvised substitution from the books. For instance, the presence of Radagast is a much-needed and legitimate extension to portray the rise of evil in Mirkwood and Dol Guldur which would otherwise have to be shown as a slightly forced flashback.
For most folks, this is it: this is the week when we finally get to go back to Middle-earth, and experience Peter Jackson’s first Hobbit movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Some of us, however, have had the great good fortune of seeing the film already, at press events around the globe. I was one such lucky viewer – and I present here my more-or-less spoiler-free review of what I saw.
Walking through the morning commuting crowds, heading to the cinema, it was slightly bewildering to think that I was finally going to see this movie. It’s been YEARS – hoping since The Return of the King that we would get to go ‘back again’; handing out ‘Make the Hobbit Happen!’ buttons at conventions; watching the ‘snakes and ladders’ game of waiting for that greenlight; eagerly taking in every moment of Peter Jackson’s production diaries… And now, at last, here it is. Would the anticipation prove too much? Would I be disappointed?
As the opening credits came up, I knew immediately that the answer, whatever was in store, would be NO. I was revisiting old friends – and what a great pleasure it was. I wanted to cry, as Frodo does in The Fellowship of the Ring, ‘It’s wonderful to see you Gandalf!’ What a treat to be back in the Shire, and to delight again in its green beauty. What fun to explore Bag End some more, and to see Ian Holm and Elijah Wood back where they belong – in furry feet!
Continuing our series of reviews of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, TORn staffer Arwen chimes in with this SPOILER-HEAVY review of the action. I suggest that if you don’t want to know about how the story plays out, what the key plot points are, and what happens at the end of the movie, then this review is probably not for you! On the other hand, if you’re not afraid of reading all those things, dive on in! (more…)
Courtesy of Warner Bros Belgium, here is an amazing 13-minute look into The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It features behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and many, many other key cast and crew members where they discuss the inspiration for, and direction of, the story the first film reveals. Plus there’s plenty of new, previously unseen (at least by me!) sneak previews of what you’ll see on the big screen! So I guess I’ll add: spoilers! (more…)
Living legend Sir Christopher Lee was born in Belgravia, Westminster, England on May 27th 1922 – making him exactly 90 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 – a whopping 275 films! (and he just keeps going) We at TheOneRing.net would like 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!
And for a great read, including some wonderful LOTR related trivia, check the 90 reasons Christopher Lee is awesome at MovieFone.com. [Read on]
DID WE SAY MASSIVE SPOILERS?! Yes, we did, so before reading further know that everything revealed to me will be revealed to you! Tuesday’s unspooling of 10 minutes of THE HOBBIT at CinemaCon took the place quite by surprise and should be considered a special moment in the history of cinema — where the first public audience witnessed a new future for movies, so brace yourself. I will interpret everything I saw and how it matches up with Tolkien’s universe … there are SO MANY cool and revealing things we can now expect in the first film alone! Let’s explore the veracity of Peter Jackson’s adaptation with hasty vigor. There is also the matter of the 48 frames-per-second format and the blogosphere’s mixed reaction to the look of the new technology, so read on …
Sir Christopher Lee today received possibly the most befitting award which could be bestowed on an actor who has played Count Dracula seven times when he accepted the Bram Stoker Gold Medal in Dublin. The veteran actor, who played Dracula and other ‘Hammer Horror’ roles between the 1950s and 1970s, received the honour from the Trinity College Philosophical Society, which counts Bram Stoker amongst its past presidents.
He also played such roles as Count Dooku in three of the Star Wars films, Sarumen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Francisco Scaramanga in the Bond classic The Man with the Golden Gun. Lee previously held the Guinness world record for the most screen credits of any living actor with 244 acknowledged film and TV movie roles, until the record was broken by Indian actor, Brahmanandam Kanneganti. More..
Sackheim-Beutlin sends this in: Sir Christopher Lee is currently filming “The Hobbit”, as this German website says. Apparently, he wanted to attend a LOTR-Concert in Regensburg, Germany, this Friday, July 22nd, but had to cancel this due to the filming of the Hobbit. Here is a rough translation of the German text:
“Sir Christopher Lee, who would have loved to attend the performance [of the Lord of the Rings-Concert] personally, had to cancel his coming due to short-term not to be delayed shootings for ‘The Hobbit’. He regrets this fact very much, but will accompany this night in specifically for this concert created videos and interpretate the mystic texts from ‘The Lord of the Rings’.”
Elessar sends along a curious tweet from artists/illusionist Derren Brown, not 2 hours ago he tweeted the following:
@DerrenBrown Off to watch some Ian Holm and Christopher Lee being filmed for The Hobbit. HOW EXCITING!
The tweet gives us a little more info on the apparent ‘UK shoot’ taking place sometime soon (maybe even today). Along with news that Elijah Wood is heading to the UK soon, and of course word that Christopher Lee wants to be involved in The Hobbit, save for traveling to New Zealand. No official word can be gleamed from the production (trust me, I tried), let us hope we learn more soon!
NYMag.com has a new interview up with Elijah Wood who’ll be reprising his role as Frodo in The Hobbit, and perhaps the most interesting bit is his response to the question about when he’ll be going down to New Zealand to shoot his scenes.
Here’s what Elijah said:
October. I’m going to the U.K. first to do some shooting, but then I’m going down in October for the New Zealand part.
Not to jump to any conclusions, but does this potentially mean Sir Christopher Lee will be shooting his scenes in the UK this October? Discuss over at our message boards. The entire interview can be found over at NYMag.com.
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