Tag Archive: bbc


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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He’s just a guy that I really want to hang out with.

Since it’s his birthday today (14/10/2012) this is the perfect opportunity for me to write about one of my favourite British actors, or actors in general, at the minute – Ben Whishaw. Now, I’ll openly admit I haven’t seen everything he has been in but once you see him for the first time in a main role, you will not forget him. Even if on screen for just a few minutes he brings great charisma, energy and unforgettable character to his roles and, being in quite a few big films this year, it becomes clear almost instantly that Whishaw is a master of the craft of acting.

At 32 years old, Whishaw has been acting now for 13 years. His career began all the way back in the twentieth century in 1999 and although he appeared in a few films and television series’ it would not be until 2011 that Ben Whishaw would finally get the recognition and attention that he so richly deserves. Whishaw has been quoted previously saying about his personal life “as an actor you have total rights to privacy and mystery, whatever your sexuality, whatever you do. I don’t see why that has to be something you discuss openly because you do something in the public eye. I have no understanding of why we turn actors into celebrities” perhaps showing a desire to stay out of the public eye and just to enjoy his work and let others enjoy his performances too without focussing too much on him as a person.

Ben Whishaw and Daniel Craig together for the first (but not the last) time on film.

As well as appearing on stage Whishaw first got recognition from the film world in 2001 when he was names Most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards for his part in My Brother Tom. This led to appearances in Enduring Love, Layer Cake (where he would appear with Daniel Craig for the first time) and Stoned, a biopic about Brian Jones in which Ben Whishaw played Keith Richards. He then moved to television to appear in short lived Channel 4 comedy Nathan Barley. At the time I can remember watching this and thinking that it was indeed very funny, although upon a recent return to the series I think I over rated it quite a lot back then.

After this Whishaw appeared in Perfume playing a perfume make whose craft turns deadly and I’m Not There in which he is one of several people to portray Bob Dylan. After a BBC television series (Criminal Justice) and a couple more feature films: Brideshead Revisited, The International and The Tempest Ben Whishaw appeared in the role that would help get him into Hollywood. The role in question is that of Freddie Lyon in The Hour, a sort of British answer to Mad Men which I enjoyed greatly! Whishaw was absolutely brilliant in his role and this is where I first became the big fan of his that I am right now. After this Ben Whishaw played King Richard in the BBC adaptation of Richard II which thanks to his back catalogue of performing Shakespeare in the theatre Whishaw was perfect for.

My favourite Ben Whishaw role so far – The Hour.

And that brings us right up to speed with Ben Whishaw’s projects this year. The Americans get to see him this month in Cloud Atlas but we Brits have to wait until next February for our chance, but Cloud Atlas is a huge undertaking and has already done well critically in early screenings. Then we finally get to see Whishaw as a young Q in Bond flick Skyfall, which will see him reunite with Daniel Craig eight years after both appearing in Layer Cake. From what I have seen of Whishaw already he seems like he will make the ideal Q. And on top of that (as if that’s not enough) Whishaw is rumoured to be in the running for a role in Robopocalypse which, if you read my blog regularly, you will know is Steven Spielberg’s upcoming blockbuster.

One thing is certain: Ben Whishaw is a very talented young man. Whether he continues to ply his trade in theatre, television or film he will surely be enduring great success. I predict that if he continues to work in films he will one day be on the receiving end of an Oscar nomination, if not being a winner.

Hopefully we’ll see Whishaw in plenty more Bond films after Skyfall!