The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer

11-Jun-13 6:03 PM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

Last year's release of The Hobbit was warmly received by this blogger. In many ways, I actually preferred it to the Lord of the Rings: it seemed lighter, somehow, and there was more obvious character growth in our protagonist. Though a bit uneven in pacing, it didn't feel too long, either. It left me eager to see the rest of the series.

That wait got a bit shorter today with the release of the first trailer for the second part in this trilogy. Behold The Desolation of Smaug:

I'm actually a bit underwhelmed by this trailer, which I feel reflects more on the editing than on the source material. There weren't many surprises or major plot references. The most intriguing, but still unsurprising, aspect was the appearance of a certain well-known elf. As someone not well-versed in Tolkien lore, I'm unsure how Legolas Greenleaf works into this tale, seeing as how he was not in the original book. But all will be revealed upon the film's release on December 13, 2013.

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Take flight to Middle-Earth with Air New Zealand

31-Oct-12 2:04 PM by
Filed under Humor; 2 comments.

For six films, New Zealand has played host to the denizens of J.R.R. Tolkien's tales, its lush country landscapes providing the fantasy setting of Middle-Earth. While the first film in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy doesn't land until December 14, you can land in Middle-Earth today, courtesy of Air New Zealand, who provides this pre-flight instructional video:

This is no indie work — it features cameos by both director Peter Jackson (who turns 51 today!) and Gollum. Impressive!

I have flown seven flights in the last two weeks, and many more than that every year. Not once have I ever found an instructional safety video that gripped my attention like this one. When else have you ever found yourself indulging in this genre on YouTube?

Well done, Air New Zealand! I look forward to visiting Middle-Earth soon.

(Hat tip: Gina Serpe via Gene Demaitre)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer

19-Sep-12 11:45 AM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

The Lord of the Rings made for an epic cinematic tale that debuted in the 2001 holiday season, becoming an annual tradition until the trilogy's conclusion in 2003.

Now we have another three years of J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations to look forward to, as this December 14 sees the premiere of the first of three movies based on The Hobbit, the tale that precedes LotR. (It's not a prequel, as The Hobbit was written first.)

Three movies from only one book is possible because we'll be seeing many of the sequences and scenes that were only hinted at in the original narrative. If you wondered where various characters disappeared to while the story followed the main party, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy will fill in those gaps. Although skeptics and pundits may decry this elongation as a desperate money grab, one must admit that it's a darn effective one: who's going to see just two-thirds of this tale, especially given previous successes in the series?

Back when the original trailer was released, The Hobbit was still envisioned as a duology. The latest trailer is the first to preview the trilogy and shows more of the scenes that are unique to the film:

I'll be in line on or near each of the three opening nights. What about you?

(Hat tip to Jason Schreier)

The Hobbit trailer, real and literal

11-Jan-12 6:36 PM by
Filed under Humor, Trailers; Comments Off on The Hobbit trailer, real and literal

I'm a fan of The Lord of the Rings — the movies, not the books — and not obsessively so. I saw each of the three movies the weekend they were released, followed by the director's cuts back-to-back in a marathon session seven years ago. But the tale didn't begin with Fellowship of the Ring, and neither did the marathon: we started with Rankin's animated movie, The Hobbit, which I'd seen many times as a child. It's a fun movie and the best in an overall poor series of animated adaptations of JRR Tolkien's books.

It seems the only way we'll have the complete tale in a single medium, animated or live action, is to target the anomalous entry in the above marathon for replacement. Peter Jackson is happy to oblige beginning December 14, 2012, with the first of the two movies, the first being The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

This is not technically a prequel, as it was written before Fellowship, but it is indeed set many decades before that 2001 film. Some things remain constant, however: just as the previous trilogy is greatly enhanced by RiffTrax, so too has The Hobbit already begun attracting its satirists:

Like the literal trailer and its lyrics? You can get the song on iTunes for only 99 cents! Good grief.

I eagerly await this return to Middle-Earth and all the good humor it portends.

(Hat tip to Mary House and Know Your Meme)

Summer Shorts: The Hunt for Gollum

06-Jun-09 12:00 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on Summer Shorts: The Hunt for Gollum

Hot on the heels of yesterday's Dungeons & Dragons short is another fantasy epic, the length and quality of which is in sharp contrast to Choices. The Hunt for Gollum, released on May 3rd, is a prequel set just before the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. At 40 minutes, it stands at the long end of "short", such that it exceeds the constraints of a single YouTube video. The entire film is available as a single high-definition viewing on the official Web site, but here it is divided into four separate videos, compiled into a single playlist:

This film most impressed me in its ability to echo Peter Jackson's trilogy in look, which required not only casting talented look-alikes as Aragorn and Gandalf, but applying high-value costumes and makeup. This could not have been cheap, but the end product benefits from the investment. I speak from experience what a difference such dedication can make. I once appeared in an independent fantasy film called Tomorrow's Night. Whether or not that movie was ever released, I don't know; it may be best if it was shelved, as unlike the low-budget films featured this week, Tomorrow's Night was no-budget.

The no-budget <em>Tomorrow's Night</em> features Ken Gagne as the guy in the potato sack.

The no-budget Tomorrow's Night features Ken Gagne as the guy in the potato sack.

What impressed me less was the script itself. As a prequel, The Hunt for Gollum neither fills necessary gaps nor leaves room for surprises. It can end only so many ways without disrupting what's to follow in J.R.R. Tolkien's well-known trilogy and Peter Jackson's popular adaptation of same. What we get instead is a lot of running around and fighting. Fortunately, that's what Hunt does best, as the choreographer and characters obviously know what they're doing. This film may lack the heavy-handed morality of Choices, but I far prefer it for its ambition and subtlety.

If the idea of an untold tale of LotR doesn't sit well with you, there is some relief to be found in the pending live-action adaptation of The Hobbit, which Peter Jackson is writing as two films. It was originally believed that the second of these films would be an original story filling in the sixty years between the conclusion of The Hobbit and the commencement of Fellowship. Fortunately, Mr. Jackson recently clarified: "We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie… [This] allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the [LotR] trilogy."

In part, Independent Online Cinema has done with The Hunt for Gollum what even Peter Jackson would not. Thank goodness to online media for giving us a place to be bold and experimental.

Bored of the Rings

16-Oct-07 1:00 PM by
Filed under Humor; 1 comment.

R. A. Salvatore once opined to me that today's readers grew up predominantly with the visual medium of television. Accustomed to quick action and short narratives, they don't need the amount of detail that J. R. R. Tolkien invested in his novels.

If so, maybe that explains that why I can't bring myself to read Lord of the Rings. Believe me, I've tried, at a variety of points in my life; but no matter how (im)mature I am at the time, I just couldn't get into it. I'm not against the concept, though; like with Shakespeare, I just need the story delivered in another medium.

So combine LotR with comic books, add an acerbic wit, and what do you get? The DM of the Rings, a web comic that uses stills from the live-action films to theorize what LotR would be like played as a Dungeons & Dragons game. Observe as the party is railroaded to key locations:

DM of the Rings #1

Indulge in out-of-character conversations on the slopes of Mt. Cahadras … DM of the Rings #2
DM of the Rings #3 … Dread the coming denizens of the Mines of Moria …

and resolutely defend the residents of Helmsdeep.

DM of the Rings #4

This satirical narrative encompasses the entire film trilogy but focuses on Aragorn's party and their perspective on the second and third films. As a former role-player myself and current fan of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book, I loved this unique and irreverent take on a classic tale. A couple of marathon sittings will make an enjoyable experience of its 144 strips. When you're done, go behind the scenes in Fear the Boot's interview with the comic's artist, Shamus Young. You may also enjoy Darths & Droids, a similar approach to Star Wars Episode I.

(Tip of the hat to Showbits reader GeneD.)