Tag Archive: an unexpected journey


Lord of the Rings is the gold standard of trilogies; each one of the three films was an excellent adventure that had brilliant characters, glorious fight scenes and plenty of enjoyment. So with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, expectations were high and a new trilogy hinged on it’s success.

An Unexpected Journey takes place sixty years before The Fellowship of the Ring and is the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is recruited by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to accompany a team of thirteen dwarfs, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a quest across Middle Earth to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim the dwarf’s stolen home from the dragon Smaug.

The main thing that leaps out at you as you watch An Unexpected Journey is that there has clearly been a lot of work put in to the visuals of the film; based purely on it’s aesthetics The Hobbit is a must watch, it’s just a beautiful mix of epic trailing shots over vast landscapes to the intricate creation of Rivendell, home of the elves. To be quite honest, I still find myself amazed that they can make Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and others look a good two foot shorter than Ian McKellen but every special effect looks just as perfect as they did in Lord of the Rings.

Martin Freeman has the title role and with little experience in films before it is a huge ask of him to carry the weight of such an ambitious trilogy, but it is a task that Freeman is more than a match for as he turns in a very accomplished and polished performance. He brings this really charming sense of likeability to his character and even throws in some comedic lines as well. McKellen, as you would expect, does the standard high quality acting you would expect from him so there’s no point wasting time talking about that. The main person I was looking forward to seeing was Armitage as Thorin as I have been a fan of his since his days in the BBC’s adaptation of Robin Hood. Armitage’s character carries the burden of being the rightful King of the dwarfs and has a real hatred for elves: Thorin is a more complicated character than the film chooses to recognise but Armitage’s performance brings layers to the dwarf leader. However, it was Kili, played by Being Human‘s Aidan Turner who quickly became my favourite dwarf and if there is a finer character in Middle Earth I would like to hear about it!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all this good…

Right from the off it seems that An Unexpected Journey is struggling to find it’s identity. Ian Holm and Elijah Wood are brought back to reprise their roles from the original trilogy in order to really cram the fact home that The Hobbit is the prequel trilogy, as if anybody needs telling this again. And the first act really struggles along with far too many character introductions given valuable time when the film could have been moving along with a lot more fluidity. There are several jokes that miss the mark every time (a tradition that unfortunately continues throughout the film) and it even skates around the edges of turning into a musical at one stage which, thankfully for everyone involved, it does not.

An Unexpected Journey never really finds a settled pacing and at times becomes incredibly dull and you can’t help but notice more than just a couple of pointless scenes thrown in for good measure. The biggest disappointment for me were the action scenes. Lord of the Rings brought us epic battle scenes in The Two Towers and Return of the King and the unforgettable death of Boromir in Fellowship, so if there’s one thing that Peter Jackson can do it’s battle scenes. But you wouldn’t know that from this film. Just when you think you might get to see some brilliant fight scenes it’s taken away from you either by a change of scene or by the dwarfs running away, which they seem to do a lot of to be honest. What could have been a great climatic battle once again turned in to a fleeing scene.

But I don’t want to end on a sour note. The return of Gollum was welcomed with open arms and his exchange with Bilbo is easily the best and most fun part of the movie; there was the appearance of the One Ring and the invisibility thrown in for good measure! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s biggest fail is that it just isn’t Lord of the Rings, but what it is is a decent story and a great block for The Desolation of Smaug to build on!

My Rating: 6/10

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Here are a collection of trailers for, what I think are, the best movies to be released in the UK this month and will be well worth a watch!

 

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – 5th December

This is something I have been looking forward to since I first saw the trailer. An exciting cast that combines Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken all brought together by Martin McDonagh in his In Bruges follow up.

 

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – 13th December

This is obviously the biggest film to be released this month and I’ve said enough about it already in previous posts so here is just one of the many TV spots for the epic Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings prequel.

 

SMASHED – 14th December

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the brilliant Aaron Paul play a married couple whose bond is solely built on their love of alcohol. Their marriage is put to the test when the wife decides to get sober. Smashed has already been adored by critics and could serve as a little treat this December.

 

LIFE OF PI – 20th December

I was more than a little dubious when I watched the first trailer for Ang Lee’s adaptation of the epic novel but with the release of this second trailer I don’t see how anyone can doubt this. A clear Oscar contender for sure.

 

PITCH PERFECT – 21st December

Anna Kendrick stars (and sings on the soundtrack) in this obviously Glee inspired musical that has gone down well with critics and audiences alike in America. I found the trailer a lot funnier than I thought that I would and it does look really really fun.

 

When Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy took the world by storm between 2001 and 2003 it looked certain that the group of heroes known as ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ would become massive stars in the world of films. Relatively unknown to mainstream audiences, most of the Fellowship had stayed away from Hollywood and seem to have done the same since. With a couple of characters set to return to Middle Earth in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy I decided to see what had become of everyone else who took part in one of the most loved, most successful and simply best trilogies of all time!

Elijah Wood – Frodo Baggins

Peter Jackson plucked Elijah Wood from near obscurity to helm this enormous series. Has so much pressure and weight ever been felt before by an actor? I’m not sure. The star of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wood looked like he would have a huge career of success and with roles immediately after this trilogy in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sin City it looked as though a career at the highest level was attainable for the young actor. However, recent years have seen the majority of Wood’s work come in voicing video games and going to television series. Although, this move to television cannot be complained about as he stars in the hilarious series Wilfred. You can’t help but feel like he could have had it so different though. Wood has done voice work in films such as 9 and Happy Feet but nothing that big or that successful has come his way in the floods that he may have been expecting. Elijah Wood will be taking on the role of Frodo Baggins once more in The Hobbit trilogy.

 

Ian McKellen – Gandalf

Probably the most famous of all the actors in Lord of the Rings and one of the best actors that England has ever produced, Sir Ian McKellen is now synonymous with Middle Earth as he portrayed the magnificent wizard and good friend to Frodo Baggins, Gandalf. McKellen has had an interesting career since Lord of the Rings; he finished off the X-Men trilogy, had a brief stint in British television soap Coronation Street and leant his voice to the fantastical feature Stardust. He also starred in an unsuccessful remake of cult television hit The Prisoner alongside Jim Caviezel. His work this decade has mainly consisted of short films but McKellen will be returning to Middle Earth for The Hobbit trilogy and will play an important part in getting the story going!

Viggo Mortensen  РAragorn

Aragorn was one of the fan favourite characters in the Lord of the Rings films and for good reason. He was a very honest, strong, caring soldier and took his duties as a protector of the hobbits very seriously. Since the end of the trilogy, Mortensen has not been as prolific as some other cast members but when he has made a film it has received critical acclaim: A History of Violence, Eastern Promises (which got Viggo Mortensen a Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role), The Road and A Dangerous Method. These all cemented Mortensen as one of the best actors from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

Sean Astin – Samwise Gamgee

He is the best friend that everybody wants! Astin’s career probably speaks for itself when you take into consideration that if you remove the Lord of the Rings from his career his most famous film is still The Goonies. Since the conclusion of Return of the King, Astin has not appeared in too many films and has been limited to small guest roles in television series’ including Alphas and Franklin & Bash. Astin, like his on screen best friend Elijah Wood, has also done a lot of voice work starring in animated television shows such as Special Agent Oso and the recently rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles alongside Jason Biggs.

 

Orlando Bloom – Legolas

Commonly nicknamed ‘Orlando Bland’, Bloom is arguably (although this wouldn’t be a very long argument and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong) the WORST actor among the Fellowship. Yet despite this Bloom has tasted success in Hollywood in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Aside from this, Bloom has starred in the distinctly average Troy and Kingdom of Heaven as well as the ultimate flops The Three Musketeers and The Calcium Kid. The latter being a comedy mockumentary about a milkman turned boxer who ends up fighting the world champion in his hometown; having seen too much of The Calcium Kid than I would have liked it is amazing that anyone actually thought it would be a good idea. Orlando Bloom should not act anymore. Unfortunately, Legolas has been written in to The Hobbit. Jesus Christ.

John Rhys-Davies – Gimli

It’s hard to believe that the man who played short tempered dwarf Gimli is almost eighty years old! And Rhys-Davies boasts a back catalogue of projects dating all the way back to 1964! It is both ridiculously astonishing and incredibly commendable just how much work Rhys-Davies does and he is clearly a man that loves his trade. Before Lord of the Rings, he had already tasted success in a trilogy after appearing in the Indiana Jones films. Unfortunately, since the ending of the trilogy Rhys-Davies has slowed down in his acting and has not done anything of the same success and popularity.

 

Dominic Monaghan – ‘Merry’ Brandybuck

Dominic Monaghan is a very wonderful little English actor, despite being born in Germany. After his journeys in Middle Earth ended Monaghan said that he was inundated with fantasy roles but he wanted to try something else and that something else came in what would become the biggest show on television: LOST. In LOST, Monaghan played one of my favourite characters, drug addicted wannabe rock star Charlie Pace. After leaving LOST Monaghan starred in FlashForward which was unfortunately short lived and he also starred in Goodnight Burbank which didn’t go down too well.

Billy Boyd – ‘Pippin’ Took

Branded a ‘fool of a Took’ by Gandalf, along with Merry Pippin provided some much needed comic relief to a trilogy that otherwise focussed on such a serious story and dark themes. If you asked everyone who the actors were that portrayed the Fellowship on screen then Billy Boyd would probably be the one that least people thought of. This is unfortunate but I can’t imagine Boyd would be too concerned as he has not done too much acting work since Lord of the Rings.

 

Sean Bean – Boromir

Although his motives were unclear throughout The Fellowship of the Ring Boromir won the hearts of audiences the world over as he played his part in possibly the greatest death scene ever to be shot as he lost his life attempting to save Merry and Pippin. Sean Bean was already a very famous actor in England after playing Major Richard Sharpe in ITV’s television movies’. Since his Middle Earth demise Bean has continued to have a huge film and television career appearing in National Treasure, Silent Hill, Outlaw and Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief. On television Bean has starred in hit shows such as Red Riding and Game of Thrones. In it for the shortest time but arguably having the best of careers out of the Lord of the Rings alumni.

With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey out in December it looks set to launch the huge careers of Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage as well as many more!

 

After a few weeks that have been fairly quiet on the news front in terms of things that have grabbed my interest this week has exploded and there is a lot to catch upon.

First, let’s start with a small update on the Assassin’s Creed feature film that is being lined up (starring and produced by Michael Fassbender). This will no doubt gain more exposure when it starts filming as Assassin’s Creed is one of the most famous and popular video game franchises of the past few years. Assassin’s Creed has now seen production company New Regency team up with Ubisoft to get this project off the ground; an official statement has said that the movie is being fast tracked and they want to get it out as soon as possible, to the highest standards reachable. Good news as I would hate this one sit in pre-production for years!

Talking of films that have been in pre-production for years: Ghostbusters 3. Obviously, there have been rumours about Ghostbusters 3 knocking around for years but now Deadline are reporting that the studio are hoping to be able to start filming next year, with or without Bill Murray’s permission which has been holding them back so far. So roll on the fantasy casts for the new generation of Ghostbusters: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Matthew Gray Gubler and Emma Stone are being touted as possible leads.

It has been eleven years since the awful events that struck America. 9/11. And there have been a couple of films about the events, World Trade Center and United 93 and now it looks as though we are going to get another one. September Morn is a film that will detail the findings of the 9/11 Comission and Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner are all attached to star so far. But will a film about the findings of 9/11 really be wanted in America? Who knows.

So let’s round up the rest pretty quickly. The Hobbit is set for a December release this year and it has been released this past week that Stephen Colbert (Saturday Night Live) and the brilliant Jim Beaver (Supernatural) will be seen in cameo roles in the huge feature. A running time has also been quoted by Peter Jackson to be around 2 hours and 40 minutes, that’s a grand total of 160 minutes of Middle Earth adventure! Andy Serkis, fresh from directing the second unit on The Hobbit, is set to direct a motion capture film version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Serkis may also star in the film, nothing is confirmed yet, but he is clearly a great choice to direct after bringing such famous characters as Gollum and Caeser to life! And finally… Hugh Grant is set to return to his famous romantic comedy roles as he teams up with Music and Lyrics director Marc Lawrence again. No female lead has yet been signed on.

Step Aside Peter Jackson…

Now this isn’t the usual type of thing that I write about because, for a start, it’s not a real movie. But this was too hard to resist.

Last week a trailer was released for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now, a trailer has emerged for a film entitled The Hobbit: There And Back Again, but this film comes with a difference: it is a film put together by children aged between 8 – 13 at Tower House School in London.

 

 

This was part of their school project that actually consisted of making a full length feature (90 minutes) version of JRR Tolkien’s famous novel. The school, which is where Tom Hardy and Robert Pattinson came from, is putting on special viewings of the full project but the one minute trailer has won audiences all over the internet as it recaptures everybody’s sense of imagination and creativity that has since been destroyed after leaving their childhood behind.

The star is 13 year old Joey Whittaker who spends most of the trailer as Bilbo Baggins looking incredibly surprised at every event that happens, even when he is sitting at his dining table in his own home… by himself. The trailer manages to make everybody wish that, for just one day, they too could be children again.

Albeit Tower House School is a prep school but if more schools across England made their pupils do projects like this it is likely to hold their interest a lot more!

So, this is the movie news that should have been posted yesterday, however I got slightly side tracked by the fact that there was a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey being released and I was so excited and highly anticipating that trailer that I forgot to post this. So let’s all just pretend it’s on time and bathe in the news of the past week.

First up, director news, both joining projects and possibly leaving projects too. James Gunn, after plenty of speculation, has officially been announced as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, probably Marvel’s most ambitious movie to date. Gunn recently directed Super which received mixed reviews from critics and failed to make any impact at all on the box office. More worryingly is that Gunn will also be re-writing the script: Gunn’s previous writing credits include Scooby Doo and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. However, Joss Whedon has said that he has complete faith in Gunn’s vision for Guardians of the Galaxy and that can only be good news!

The internet is rife with rumours of the directorial departure over at FOX of Rupert Wyatt from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the rather surprisingly very good Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There have been a few shake ups over at FOX recently and the rumours are now that Wyatt will be leaving the sequel because he is not confident that he can both produce a top quality film and meet the release date which FOX announced as May 23rd 2014. This is a real shame if the rumours are true because Wyatt did a great job of directing the first instalment; he had a very difficult job to do and he managed to pull the story together and get real emotion from most of the characters. The choice of his replacement could be make of break for the new Apes franchise.

Over at the Toronto International Film Festival the awards were given out as the festival drew to a close and there was a surprise winner for the People’s Choice Award. This is a pretty important award because in the past The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire both won this award and went on to be huge successes and obviously clean up at the Oscars. The winner this year was Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. While I thought the trailer looked very good I wasn’t sure what to expect from the whole film but early signs suggest this is going to be a fantastic film, even though I doubt it will do as well at the box office as those previous winners.

The other little tid bits of news this week include the announcement that Universal has planned fir sequels to both Ted and The Bourne Legacy. The fact that The Bourne Legacy is getting a sequel should come as no surprise although it received mixed reviews from critics and mainstream audiences. With Ted getting a sequel this is clearly just a money making scheme by Universal as one film was definitely enough. And finally there has been an announcement made on who will be singing the theme tune to this years James Bond film Skyfall. After months of speculation Adele has finally been confirmed to have been given the honour. A perfect choice.

UK Release Date: 14th December 2012.

Stars: Peter Jackson (director), Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis.

Plot: A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.

So far there has been a divide amongst Tolkien fans and film fans in general about how good The Hobbit will turn out to be. With reports that previous footage was criticised for being like a television show rather than a blockbuster film coupled with disappointing promo stills that led me to question whether Martin Freeman was the right choice for Bilbo Baggins, I will admit that I have been worried about this.

After the first trailer a few months ago was released with not a lot of footage and just music played over the top of images it is great to see that this second trailer restores all hope for this new trilogy set in Middle Earth. There are scenes introducing our new heroes, the dwarves, led by the brilliant British actor Richard Armitage, who I hope will have an ever growing presence in the film and glimpses of returning characters including Elrond, Galadriel and Gollum.

The set pieces even in the trailer show you how big An Unexpected Journey will be with landscapes going on for miles and miles. The action looks great and Martin Freeman has put to bed all of my fears about his performance. Middle Earth captured the imagination of millions when Lord of the Rings was released and if An Unexpected Journey turns out to be anywhere near as good as Fellowship of the Ring then I think everyone will soon be rather happy that this will be a trilogy instead of two films.

I think The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey looks terrific!

After the tragic loss of action director Tony Scott a few weeks ago this is another sad week for Hollywood. The incredible Michael Clarke Duncan has sadly passed away just two months after suffering a heart attack that he never really fully recovered from. It’s horrible news especially considering the fact that news reports have emerged that Duncan and his reality television personality girlfriend planned on getting married next year and had talked about having children together. Michael Clarke Duncan is best known for his role in The Green Mile which he was Oscar nominated for but he also starred in Sin City, The Green Lantern and Armageddon.

In other news there is yet another film in pre-production about former American president Abraham Lincoln. This follows the unique take on the 16th president Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and the upcoming Steven Spielberg biopic starring the hyphenated cast of Daniel Day-Lewis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt entitled Lincoln. The title of the new film is The Green Blade Rises and will be directed by Terrence Malick. In the past Malick has taken long gaps between his films but his schedule seems to be pretty busy for the next two or three years. It’ll be interesting to see whether the success of Spielberg’s Lincoln affects this new take positively or negatively, if even at all.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln

As many people will know by now The Hobbit has been announced as a trilogy and there has been a release date and title change for the films. The first part, out later this year, will still be named An Unexpected Journey. The second instalment will be titled The Desolation of Smaug to be released around Christmas 2013 whilst the third and final (for now) chapter adopts the name There and Back Again (originally the title for the second film) and will hit summer 2014.

Michael Bay continued to ruin childhoods this past week. He managed to anger Transformers fans when he continued to make each film worse than the previous one and then angered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans by deciding their new origin would be that they are aliens from another planet. Now the terrible explosion happy director has had to come out and deny that the leaked script for the new TMNT film is actually the final one because everyone who is anyone has been slating it and saying how awful it is. Michael Bay has a lot of work on his hands and is quickly becoming very very unpopular among movie fans and anyone with taste.

I actually enjoyed the most recent CGI outing of TMNT.

Finally, it has been in the pipeline for some time but it has now been announced that Metal Gear Solid, the hugely successful video game, is to be adapted into a film. Avi Arad, who has produced almost every single movie about a Marvel character, will be producing the film. Metal Gear Solid has already been integrated into a hilarious comedy routine by Dara O’Briain but will it be turned into a film just as good? The main problem is who should play main character Snake? Some of the names being touted around fan forums so far include Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Bradley Cooper and Sam Worthington. The favourite and specifically mentioned by the games creator Hideo Kojima seems to be Hugh Jackman. I think Jackman would be a great choice as he can clearly pull off being a bad ass like he has done in the X-Men films playing Wolverine. But if they are to get Jackman they need to start moving forward with the project soon before he gets too old.