Tag Archive: gollum


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

Advertisements

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.

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!

The Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises are too of the highest grossing in cinematic history, with the boy wizard being ranked at number one. There is a lot of debate among fantasy fans as to which franchise is actually better and audiences tend to fall on one side or the other, rather than both.

There are many similarities between the two film series’: the unsuspecting hero (Harry and Frodo), the ever faithful best friend (Ron and Sam), the tale of friendship and companionship, both taking place in completely new worlds and the battle between good and evil. Both franchises are based on books by British authors, also; Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

Return of the King is joint holder of the most Oscar awards won by a single film.

If we go by recognition from the Academy Awards then there is, of course, a clear winner in terms of which film series is better. Whilst the Harry Potter series won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, it received zero Oscars, despite six of the eight films being nominated for 12 between them. Lord of the Rings, however, was nominated for a total of 30 Oscars, winning 17 of them including best picture for Return of the King.

Throughout the course of the Harry Potter series it remained British in its casting. It made child stars of the main three newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson but accompanied them with some of the best British actors around. Some of the best include Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Julie Walters, Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith.

Whilst some of the actors in Lord of the Rings are British Peter Jackson (director and creative mind behind the films) went abroad too for Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortensen. Lord of the Rings also combined the new actors and old actors by pairing Orlando Bloom with the likes of Ian McKellen and Sean Bean. So both film series have superb casts, there is no doubt about that.

Dobby won the hearts of audiences the world over throughout the Harry Potter series.

 

The special effects for both films are again fantastic. Both franchises had to create these brand new worlds for audiences. Harry Potter had it slightly easier because it’s world is still based in human territory really but did what it had to; the flying cars, Dobby the house elf, the massive basilisk, the whomping willow, werewolves and the brilliant scenes of the Quidditch World Cup.

 

Lord of the Rings created the Shire, Mordor, Mount Doom, Rohan and more. Making each place look as though it belonged on the screen and looking as though you could actually be there. The creative process that went into those scenes is unimaginable. And where Harry Potter created the basilisk and the house elves, Lord of the Rings created Gollum, the Balrog and Sauron himself.

There is no doubt that the two franchises are up there with the best of all time, but there is one factor that, I think, separates them. That is the rewatchability factor. When I like a film, really really like it, I want to watch it again and again and enjoy it as much as I did the first time. As much as I like Lord of the Rings every time I consider watching them again it dawns on me how long they are and as the first one is slightly slow paced it seems like a much daunting task than perhaps it is. This is even more true if you happen to own the extended cuts.

Millions of children have grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione.

This is where Harry Potter triumphs, in my eyes, as each film is an enjoyable journey. Despite the story getting darker and darker as each film progresses the films manage to keep a light heartedness about it that makes it easy to watch, easy to follow and easy to watch again. As well as this, Harry Potter is something for the whole family to enjoy, whereas Lord of the Rings is perhaps targeted at a more mature audience.

As you might be able to tell, I fall into the category of Harry Potter fans. I do think that this series is better than the Lord of the Rings. This is not a slight on Lord of the Rings at all, as I still think it is a superb trilogy and look forward to The Hobbit later on this year. But for sentimental reasons, perhaps more than other reasons, I think that The Boy Who Lived will always be my favourite film series no matter how long I live.