One of my absolute favorite lines that our friends from Weta Workshop put out within their The Lord of the Rings statue line is the environment sub-line. As I’ve said in this column before, it allows us to go to places we will never get actually to visit. So today we’re going to take a look at Minas Morgul, and the outstanding job Weta did on this piece. This one is sold out, but if you can track it down and afford it, I think this is absolutely worth it.Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Minas Morgul Environment Review”
We’ve been digging through the Green Book archives a bit to find relevant articles discussing the ‘purity’ of Tolkien and his works. We came across this classic from Green Book author, Anwyn, where she addresses the questions that came out of watching the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. If you aren’t familiar with it…read on!
I admit it. I’m at a loss for a stunning literary topic, one that will provoke your emotions, stimulate your mind, and offer some insight into Tolkien’s life or works. I sat down this evening with my brain half fried, knowing that I had a deadline to meet, and started flipping channels. Lo and behold, what did I pass but the MTV Movie Awards, and hark, who should be sitting behind Kirsten Dunst but the intrepid trio of Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, and Billy Boyd? Moreover, what award should they be announcing at that very moment but the award for “Best Movie?” I stayed to watch, having not bothered the first time they ran it.
I admit it. My finger is not on the pulse, as they say, of the pop-culture acclaim the Lord of the Rings movie phenomenon has generated and continues to stoke. I have not followed marketing trends; I couldn’t tell my father what TTT had grossed at the box office when he asked. I know, in a general way, that these films are wildly popular beyond the book’s fan base, that the movies have started their own fire that, due to the modern climate, burns higher than the literary one created when Tolkien was still living. What I don’t know is whether or not that’s a good thing.
The intro was cute. Keanu Reeves was charming. And the winner is … The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Elijah, Billy and Sean, looking MTV cool in untucked, unbuttoned shirts, bounded up on stage, where Sean apologized for Gollum’s previous tirade. “That dude is out of control!”
I admit it. I didn’t watch TORn’s clip of Gollum’s “acceptance speech.” I read a transcript and was horrified enough that I had no desire to watch it. Why? you ask. It was funny! you say. Perhaps. But the issue, in my mind, was not whether or not it was funny, but the fact that Tolkien is barrel-rolling in his grave at having one of his characters co-opted into speaking such filth. Puritan, you remark. Perhaps. “Purist” would be closer to the mark, I think. The hallmark of Tolkien’s work is the very purity of his language, and to find the most vile of modern insults coming out of the mouth of a digitally created Gollum disgusted me and, I think, would have appalled and disgusted Tolkien.
The boyishly handsome trio accepted the award on behalf of the production and left the stage. I came to my computer wondering. This new popularity: good or bad?
There is no need to speculate about what Tolkien himself would have thought. Though the popularity of his books, in his day, was smaller in scope and lesser in frantic, frenzied intensity than that we are observing now in response to the movies, he still had to fend off a wave of targeted questioning and obsession with minutiae, causing him to make remarks about his “deplorable cultus” and the dangers of becoming involved in the stories “in a way I’m not.” That tendency is more alive and well than ever today, thanks partly to the very wonderful establishment with which I am connected and others like it on the internet. “Fan fiction,” which I assume to have existed before the web but which certainly has suffered an unbelievable popularity explosion since, with access to an immediate and free forum, proves this in and of itself, as do the myriad questions we get at Green Books every day.
My colleague Quickbeam and many others have come down to the baseline opinion that if it encourages people to read Tolkien, then the indignities that come with the Hollywood marketing machine are well endured. But arepeople reading Tolkien as a result of all this hype? The evidence that I see is mixed.
We get many letters at GB that include notes like “I am now reading the books to my [sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren], and they LOVE them. They would never have been interested in them before the movie.” That’s wonderful, and of course I couldn’t be anything but pleased. But we get a greater number of notes, questions for the Q&A, that clearly show that their authors have not read and have no desire to read—only to know more about the world that their current idols [insert Elijah, Orlando, Billy, Dominic, Sean, Sean, or Viggo here] inhabit in these films. “Who is Aragorn and where did he come from?” “Who are Legolas’s parents? Does he ever fall in love? Is it true that he dies in the third movie?” and my personal favorite, “Can you give me a complete history of Elrond? Who is he, where did he come from, who are his parents, what is his significance?” Don’t tell me that these folks have any intention of reading—this stuff could be readily found if they’d ever even cracked a book.
So if people are not reading, what’s the fuss about? Special effects, swordplay, hot guys, and hot chicks, apparently. Again I hear that scraping, swishing sound … Tolkien is rolling.
I am not intending any commentary here on Jackson’s films themselves. My opinions on that score are well documented elsewhere. My concern is with the ultramodern hype that has followed.
I admit it. There’s not much reason to care whether or not the marketing machine runs at full efficiency and creates these millions of screaming Orli drones. After all, what does it hurt Tolkien’s books or my enjoyment of them? From one perspective, it doesn’t hurt one iota. From another perspective, it hurts to see characters that I regarded as the highest of the high, the pinnacle of heroic epic, degenerated into pop-culture icons. And it is not so with some of my other favorites. Anne of Green Gables, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, and others have all been brought with sensitivity and grace to the big screen. And sensitivity and grace are not lacking in the majority of Jackson’s characterizations, either. So the difference must lie in the public reaction to them and to the supposedly clever accolades, like Gollum’s fling at the MTV awards, that follow.
Forgive me, dear readers, if I am indulging in a ramble without a point. This musing is simply part of a bigger question—how healthy is all this fandom, anyway? “Frenzy and intensity,” I said above to describe the modern fanboy and fangirl machines, and it’s true. The nearness of people to one another through the media and internet allows them to mass-embrace one concept in a way they never could have done a century ago. Is this healthy for our individual and collective minds and spirits? The screaming, the shoving for a picture or an autograph … I digress. Those are issues connected with all popular Hollywooders, not with Lord of the Rings alone, of course. And I guess that’s the crux of the matter—something formerly so exalted in the realm of literature alone has been brought to a level equal to that of the Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears. I guess that’s where the real rub lies. Like the rub of a tweed jacket upon the inside of a coffin. Tolkien is rolling.
Daedalic Entertainment’s upcoming stealth-based game “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” had its first teaser trailer drop a couple of days ago on gaming and entertainment company IGN’s YouTube channel.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent LOTR game and while this upcoming release focuses on the non-hero non-Fellowship type character, it’s nice to see Tolkien’s world getting some mainstream gaming action.
Also unlike previous LOTR games, Gollum will take on a different play style, moving away from swords, bows and arrows etc in favour of stealthy traversal. Stealth and vertical parkour-style movement will be familiar to fans of game franchises like Assassins Creed, Prince of Persia etc.
It’s not all stealth-play though as lead game designer Martin Wilkes describes the combat “Gollum doesn’t use weapons, but he can distract enemies with throwables. In parts of the game, he will also profit from the abilities of special allies and can use the environment to his advantage.”.
Outside of gameplay mechanics, the game will focus more on Tolkien’s original story and drawings along with some common themes shared with the movies. “Peter Jackson’s movies are fantastic but our game is based on the original book license,” continues Martin. “Our world follows the same descriptions and is also in parts inspired by the same artworks as were the movies. Their influence on popular culture has been tremendous, so we have to be mindful of players who might only know Middle-earth from the two film trilogies.”
What about the story and Gollum himself? “Gollum’s overall goal in the game?” adds Wilkes. “Well, that’s a bit more complicated. Obviously, Gollum wants to escape his captors and retake the Ring (and hopefully get his hands on some nice fish along the way). After some time, though, the Sméagol-side causes trouble and distractions and opens up new, conflicting goals that we cannot talk about yet.”
“The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” is releasing in 2021 for PS5, Xbox Series X and PC.
As many of you are aware, there isn’t going to be an in-person Comic-Con this year due to Covid-19. So our friends at Weta Workshop are doing what they can to help make that easier. They’re bringing the goodies to us virtually and we’re going to be bringing you daily videos as and when these new items are released, giving you a virtual recap.
Fans right now can order this years exclusive Gollum Mini-Epic variant for $29. Also teased, but not up for order yet, is the largest Mini-Epic yet, of Smaug. This dragon is very cool and fun.
Weta Workshop have also announced a new line of 1:6 statues. These new classic statues look amazing and are a great way to start the 20th Anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring. Fans can Order Gandalf the Grey and the Ringwraith right now for $349 with an expected ship date of February 2021.
Finally, if you want to know what it takes to paint these superb pieces, paint master supreme Jules German of Weta has an awesome video showing the steps, and he teases about an upcoming piece in the video.
As many of you know Comic-Con in San Diego was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19. So our friends at Weta Workshop have decided to take Comic-Con and do it virtually. They’re calling it Winter Warm Up, because it is winter in their part of the world. The first two days have brought us three new collectibles from Middle-earth. The first one is from The Lord of the Rings, and a piece we saw sculpted live, two years ago during San Diego Comic-Con. Sculptor Jane Wenley is bringing to life that iconic moment where we see The Witch-king stab Frodo on Weathertop. When this piece goes live we will bring your more information but for now we hope you enjoy this concept sketch.
If you like cool Middle-earth items and you are also into Tiki Mugs then these items are for you. Fans of the greatest trilogy of all time can get Gandalf the Grey, Frodo, and Gollum all done as Tiki Mugs. You can get all three of these very cool looking mugs, which can help give you an island vibe as we sit in quarantine, for $75 for the set. If you decide to get them individually they’re running at $26 a piece, so there is a saving if you get all three as a set. They’re also doing muglets of Frodo and Gollum as a set, which will cost $14. They will also be offering customers a free gift (LOTR Geeki Tiki Mini Muglet Set) if they spend $100 or more on ANY product at Toynk.com. Offer will end 5/18/2020 at 11:59PM CST. The gift will automatically show up as free in a customer’s cart once they have over $100 of products added.