Tag Archive: lord of the rings


epic Review

Epic. Never has a summer blockbuster been so ambitiously named. After one of the most exciting and visually astounding trailers of the year so far, anticipations are set high for the latest Blue Sky outing. With a voicing cast including the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz and Beyonce Knowles, could the one hour, forty minute journey into the forest live up to the hype of a two minute trailer?

On the one day in a hundred years where Tara (Knowles), Queen of the forest, is set to select her heir an evil group known as the Boggans, led by Mandrake (Waltz) intend to kill her and destroy the forest in order to take complete control. The Leafmen are the group charged with the order of stopping the Boggans but in particular the soldiers that have to carry that weight belong to the incredibly uncharismatic Ronin (Colin Farrell) and rookie Nod (Hutcherson) with the help of a human girl, M.K (Seyfried) who gets shrunk down to two inches tall Alice in Wonderland style in order to save the forest.

No time at all is wasted in introducing the miniature world of the forest and the ongoing battle as three birds tussle in the sky with Nod and the little bird that he rides. Then the real life sized world comes into play with M.K arriving to live with her mad scientist father (Sudeikis) and you get the feeling that there is going to be a strong father-daughter relationship at the centre of this animated war film but when it ends there seems to be a great gaping hole where the human emotion of the film should have been.

It’s a film that lacks any intensity at all. For a film where the whole of the forest seems to be at stake you would expect that there is at least going to be a huge battle at the end but alas, this is not the case. The one time you think you will get to see a huge fight it is cruelly ripped away from you and you are forced to travel with the more boring companions on the quest.

There is a little humour provided in the form of a slug and a snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and the wonderful Chris O’Dowd respectively. And there’s a nice little musical number about halfway through the film in an attempt to lift the film more upbeat from its second act which is certainly lacking any determination at all.

The only thing that comes remotely close to being epic are the brief action sequences. The animation during the fight scenes does stand out as some of the best animation in recent years and the action scenes are full of potential and wouldn’t look out of place in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (although the fact that its animated might make it stick out a little).

There are some laughs, good fight scenes and another great (if underused) turn by Christoph Waltz. You cannot doubt that Epic will find an audience as it is enjoyable at times, but it does feel someone’s followed a dot-to-dot for making a children’s animated film and decided to miss out the dots that contain heart and emotion.

My Rating: 6/10

The entertainment industry is an incredibly fickle one; one bad movie can see you go from the top of your game to the discard pile as quick as a flash. So it takes incredible determination, talent and motivation to continue on acting for so many years. 65 is usually the age of retirement over here in Britain but here are a few actors who show no signs of slowing down as they get older, just continuing to get better with age.

Robert De Niro – Born: August 17, 1943 – 69 years old.

This man really does need very little introduction. He’s been acting since the 1960’s but really made his name in the 70s with performances in The Godfather trilogy and of course his iconic performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s become associated largely with gangster films but in the last decade or two he’s been slightly less picky with his roles and has taken fun roles rather than the intense ones he used to, as witnessed in Stardust and Meet the Parents. Five releases are slated for this year with more coming in 2014.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Born: 31st December, 1943 – 69 years old.

It’s actually unbelievable that Sir Ben Kingsley was once in English soap opera Coronation Street. Kingsley is often forgotten by mainstream audiences but he is clearly one of the best actors that England have ever produced. He won an Oscar for his role in Ghandi and continues to show his versatility with recent roles in Hugo, Shutter Island and Sexy Beast. Kingsley can now be seen playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Sir Ian McKellen – Born: 25th May, 1939 – 73 years old.

McKellen is a true thespian. It took until the late 80s/early 90s really until McKellen became a certified film star and his career continues to thrive; really, since the turn of the century McKellen has become an actor that all different types of audiences want to see. He has shown off his talents in two iconic roles in particular, Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (a role he has reprised for The Hobbit trilogy), while at the same time continuing to do short films and television work as well.

Jack Nicholson – Born: 22nd April, 1937 – 75 years old.

What is there left to say about Jack Nicholson that hasn’t been said before? He is undoubtedly one of the best actors that has ever worked. That’s just a simple fact of life. He’s been acting since the 1950s and although he is taking longer breaks between work at the minute that doesn’t mean he is getting any worse. Over the years Nicholson has won three (THREE!) Oscars for his work and turned out great performances in the likes of The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman and The Departed. That’s a career well spent.

Morgan Freeman – Born: 1st June, 1937 – 75 years old.

He’s probably the only man in the world that people could just listen to every single day and never get bored. Has Morgan Freeman really ever been young? A lot of Freeman’s work up until the 90s was largely television work but what a decade the 90s became for him: Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en saw Freeman in quite an incredible rise to fame. One that continues thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Robert Redford – Born: 18th August, 1936 – 76 years old.

Redford has slowed down in recent years but he is not only an acclaimed actor but also has been nominated for Oscars for his directing as well (and won). This is a man who starred in some of the most famous films of all time: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s made something of a return to acting in the last couple of years with The Company You Keep (2012), All is Lost (2013) and he is set to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Sir Michael Caine – Born: 14th March, 1933 – 80 years old.

This year, the great actor turned eighty years old. Unbelievable considering the energy and the emotion that he still brings to all of his characters. Michael Caine has a filmography to rival anybody, he really has reached the top of his game and been there for decades as well now! The Italian Job, Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and of course more recently he has become a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige and Inception. A true legend of the acting world.

Christopher Plummer – Born: 13th December, 1929 – 83 years old.

Remember The Sound of Music? One of the most iconic films of all time? Released in 1965? Well Christopher Plummer was in that. And his career is one that seems to have really got better with age and has, in fact, flourished since the beginning of the 21st century. He has recently had roles in A Beautiful Mind, Nicholas Nickleby, National Treasure, Syriana, Up, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and finally won an Oscar in 2012 for his role in Beginners.

These actors are true legends of their profession.

Now, the reason for writing this blog is not to just slag Nicolas Cage off, I actually quite like him. I have enjoyed a lot of his films, old and new, including Con Air, Adaptation and Kick-Ass. But I never realised how many really big hits that Cage has been linked with but either turned them down or didn’t come to fruition (thankfully in the end) so that he could make the likes of Ghost Rider, G-Force and Drive Angry. So what are the biggest roles Cage could have starred in but didn’t?

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Shrek

Cage may be voicing a character in the DreamWorks animation The Croods but a few years ago Cage was approached by executives for the role of Shrek. However, this never came to light because of Cage’s self-professed vanity. His reason for not playing Shrek? He didn’t want to look like an ogre. This turned out okay in the end though as if we had got Cage then the loveable ogre may not have his famous Scottish accent that he is known for now.

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Lord of the Rings

Among the fellowship there were no real Hollywood stars; Ian McKellen perhaps the most famous among the cast. So things would have looked slightly different and it may have been marketed differently if Nicolas Cage had accepted the role of… Aragorn. Cage turned this one down citing “family obligations” and Viggo Mortensen will thank him for that and so will fans of the trilogy: Mortensen’s Aragorn became one of the most popular characters in the film.

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The Matrix

The Matrix is quite an iconic film. It’s sequels divide audiences but the first film is usually regarded pretty highly. And Nicolas Cage could have been in the leading role as Neo. Cage turned down the role due to the fact it was filming in New Zealand and he was committed to raising his children at the time. Of course, eventually Keanu Reeves got the role and enjoyed his career for a few weeks.

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The Wrestler

The Wrestler is the only film on this list that I am genuinely interested to see how Nicolas Cage would have played it. I think that this is a role that Cage could have done a wonderful job with. However, the role did go to Mickey Rourke afterwards and he won for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, as well as being nominated for an Oscar and I loved it. But Cage would have been very interesting in The Wrestler.

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Superman Lives

Before the abomination that is Superman Returns was made, Superman Lives was in development. The script was written by Kevin Smith and was set to be directed by Tim Burton with Nicolas Cage in the lead role as Clark Kent/Superman. The film never got off the ground and Cage of course went on to play another comic book character Ghost Rider. I can’t imagine that it would have been a good thing seeing Cage in the red and blue spandex.

Sean Bean has been killed on screen over twenty times throughout his career. I don’t want to ruin anything for you but if you’re watching a Sean Bean film, chances are that his character won’t make it to the end. Despite a large amount of films to choose from, here are my three favourite Sean Bean death scenes. Obviously, spoilers follow this although the films have been out a fair few years so is this still classed as spoilers? Who knows. anyway, you’ve been warned nonetheless.

 

 

Equilibrium (2002)

Equilibrium is set in a dystopian future after a Third World War has devastated the Earth. All emotion and artistic expression has been banned and Grammaton Clerics are hired to burn any remains of poems, literature, art etc. and punish anybody seen taking advantage of the arts. Sean Bean plays one of these Grammaton Clerics who turns against the totalitarian state and, instead of burning a book of poems, decides to keep them. Because of this, his law abiding partner (played by a really good emotionless Christian Bale) track him down and executes him. It’s not the most action packed death scene but in terms of the defiance he represents and the change in Bale’s character that it triggers it is a poignant one.

Black Death (2010)

I only watched this yesterday and it was the film that inspired this post. Black Death is set in medieval England and follows the story of a young monk (played by the wonderful Eddie Redmayne) who accompanies a group of soldiers, led by Ulric (Sean Bean), to a remote marshland untouched by the bubonic plague to track down a necromancer. When they arrive at the necromancer’s village everything goes tits up basically and Ulric’s men land themselves in a lot of trouble and a couple of them die. Soon after, Ulric (already poisoned by the black death) is tied to two horses and literally pulled apart; it makes for pretty painful watching but someone with Bean’s experience at dying on screen portrays this excellently. Unfortunately, the death scene isn’t on the available in good quality so here’s the trailer, but I fully encourage you to check out the film when you can.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

This is without a doubt, one of the greatest death scenes in movie history and for me, the best part of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Throughout Fellowship the audience are asked to question Boromir and you never really know what side he is on and who’s interests he has at heart, especially since he tries to take the ring from Frodo. But at the end of the film Boromir has a true hero’s death and goes down fighting to protect Merry and Pippin. He is shot a couple of times by Lurtz but this doesn’t stop him and he continues to fight through the pain using every last breath he has in his body. This is what makes Boromir one of the best characters from the trilogy and this scene alone makes Sean Bean’s performance one of stand out shows in an ensemble cast.

Wild Bill (2011) Review

“What did he want?”

“Shooting.”

The best line of the film in my opinion.

The main reason I decided to sit down and watch Wild Bill is because it is the directorial debut of Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher has always provided good performances in front of the camera (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Band of Brothers, Kick-Ass) so I was interested to see how he would get on behind the camera. And any expectations I had before watching were completely blown out of the water within minutes.

Charlie Creed-Miles is “Wild” Bill Hayward, just released from prison on parole after serving eight years for numerous crimes. Bill returns home to find his two sons Dean (15) and Jimmy (11), who he hasn’t seen since he got sent down, have been abandoned by their mother who has fled to Spain. A bond between Bill and Jimmy quickly develops, and Dean gradually comes around to the idea of having his father around. However, their domestic life is short-lived, when Jimmy starts drug-dealing for some local villains.

The story is set against the backdrop of the London Olympic stadium construction site as this is where Dean has been working in order to look after his younger brother. This setting immediately allows the audience to be sucked in to the world of the film and it brings a great sense of realism to Wild Bill.  The grittiness and realism of a working class family in recession hit London really helps the film stand out, especially as it is very easy to recognise several problems that the film brings up including poverty, family breakdown and the fall of society; something we, in the UK especially, can all recognise. Credit has to go to Fletcher and Danny King, the writers of the film, to bringing up these problems for all to see.

From left to right: Fletcher, Poulter, Creed Miles, Flemyng.

As Wild Bill Charlie Creed-Miles is brilliant. The character development is there for all to see and Creed-Miles portrays two very different sides to his character; the thug/prisoner/chav that doesn’t care about anything, and then the caring father trying to make an effort with his children, even if he does get it very wrong at times. But the real star of the show is Will Poulter who plays Dean. Poulter carries a great air of maturity and it is very easy to feel for his character thanks to the emotion that he brings to the role. There are appearances from other British actors that different audiences will recognise: Liz White (Life on Mars), Iwan Rheon (Misfits) Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), Marc Warren (Hustle) and even a small appearance from Fletcher’s good friend and colleague Jason Flemyng.

Wild Bill is wonderfully acted and is a true example of brilliant character development. Their are strong themes, a strong storyline and even stronger performances. I would argue that Wild Bill is quite possibly the best British film I have ever seen.

My Rating: 10/10.

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

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  – Aragorn

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!

 

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!

Sometimes, appearing in a huge franchise can make you become a household name across the world and the rest of your career becomes easy, but for some actors (and quite often better ones) are forced to play from the sidelines; consistently being a supporting actor and never the main role, this is the case for Karl Urban. Urban is an actor from New Zealand who, despite having gained critical acclaim for films in his homeland he has never been thought of as a leading man for Hollywood, yet unless you have been living on Mars you will have seen him in quite a few of his films, ones that you could even count among your favourites, but you just might now know.

As I mentioned Urban started out working in his home country of New Zealand and here he started out working in the theatre and appearing on television adverts. Karl Urban then got a break after being seen internationally by appearing on the television series’ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the recurring roles of Cupid and Julius Caesar. After fulfilling his work on television he appeared in an offbeat romance film entitled The Price of Milk for which he received a nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards; he later appeared in Out of the Blue (2007), a dramatisation of New Zealand’s Aramoana massacre and gained positive reaction and the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.

So now lets move on to what I know him for: being a supporting actor in a number of franchises. The first of them, and arguably the biggest of all of his films is Lord of the Rings. Now, Lord of the Rings has a huge cast and story that spreads itself over three films so there’s no doubt that you’re not going to be able to name all of the actors an actresses who were a part of the project, but Karl Urban had a pretty decent role in The Two Towers and Return of the King. Karl Urban played Éomer. Éomer has quite a significant role in the books which is diminished in Peter Jackson’s trilogy but he still plays a part. In the films Éomer is made an outcast but is present at the Battle of Helm’s Deep as he remains loyal to the King of Rohan, he is also responsible for the death of the leader of the Haradrim. After this part in one of the most successful trilogies of all time you could have forgiven Karl Urban for thinking he was going to have a pretty tasty career.

The final chapter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released in 2003 and in 2004 Urban appeared in two more franchises significantly differing in quality. First was The Chronicles of Riddick where Urban plays the villain to Vin Diesel’s hero and as such Urban’s character dies in the climatic battle scene. This was a first taste of Hollywood films really and an encouraging start although the film itself didn’t go down well with critics. Despite this, Urban’s next choice was superb. If you missed Karl Urban in Lord of the Rings you may have seen him in The Bourne Supremacy (part of another of the best trilogies of all time). In Supremacy Karl Urban is again the villain playing second fiddle to Matt Damon’s hero who everyone loves; Urban was the Russian agent Kirill who killed Marie but inevitably failed in his mission to kill Bourne himself.

In 2007 Karl Urban got a shot at being the leading man in Pathfinder, a Viking adventure film. The film itself lacks in the dialogue area and replaces it with an emphasis on violence, blood and gore… this was probably a reason for the harshly negative reaction to it, however I don’t mind the film but it certainly didn’t do anything to help Karl Urban’s career.

As a childhood fan of Star Trek Urban actively pursued a role in the 2009 reboot.

In 2009 Urban returned to doing what he does best and decided to hang around in the background of another huge blockbuster: Star Trek. This is probably a role that Urban is most famous for to fans across the globe. In JJ Abrams reboot of the famous science fiction series Urban plays Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy who becomes Kirk’s first (and pretty much only) friend at Starfleet Academy. As Bones, Urban injected (a nice little pun for those who have seen the film) some comedic moments into Star Trek and his performance is held in high regard by fans of the original series.

After appearing in Red and Priest, Urban gets another chance at being a lead man in a big blockbuster this year in Dredd, a reboot of the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, in which Urban will be playing Judge Dredd. The film itself is being hotly anticipated by fans of the comic book character  and it received positive reception at Comic Con which has probably the hardest crowd to please in the world.

At the age of 40 it may be a little late for Karl Urban to make that step to the forefront after being in the secondary roles for so long but it is not unheard of. Urban has a real talent for acting and I have enjoyed every one of his performances that I have seen. In my opinion Karl Urban has not got the recognition or fan base that he deserves but with the Star Trek franchise looking as though it could stretch out easily for a few films then he may get it there or in any upcoming Judge Dredd sequels. He deserves it, that’s for sure.

Here’s a video of Karl Urban talking about his role in Star Trek and just generally being cool. His colleagues seem to love him too!