The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey With A Few Detours

December 19, 2012 at 8:18 am

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey With A Few Detours | The Hobbit Review 2012

WELCOME BACK MIDDLE EARTH!

It’s impossible to truly articulate just how much I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Leading up to the release, I created 9 Middle Earth posts including a Top 30 Countdown of the series’ best moments.  It’s safe to say, I didn’t force myself to write those posts.  I love writing about Middle Earth and what it means to me.

XTRA | Check out all my Middle Earth related posts here.

To me, the Lord of the Rings is more than just a groundbreaking trilogy.  It’s a source of inspiration in my own screenwriting journey.  For that, I will always be thankful.  Having said all that, you can imagine how excited I was to finally see The Hobbit after years of development.  At long last, we get to return to Middle Earth.

I loved the first chapter of this new trilogy.  It’s packed with amazing battles, creatures and moments worthy of Middle Earth.  It’s definitely entertaining but allow me to quote Bilbo himself by saying this film feels a bit stretched…

“Like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey begins with a mission.  The dwarves lost their home to a ferocious dragon named Smaug.  It is their goal to reclaim their home.  Thanks to Gandalf the Wizard, they are joined by Bilbo and the adventure begins…  At it’s core, the LOTR trilogy was about Frodo and the One Ring.  Here, the mission is to defeat Smaug.  Simple enough except once the story is setup, the film tends to go off on tangents for over an hour.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review 2012

Some of these episodes are more entertaining than others while some (like giant fighting mountains) seem out of place.  It doesn’t have the same focus but that’s what happens when you stretch one book into three films.

When the Fellowship of the Ring was released, I lot of people were disappointed by what they left out.  For example, the episode featuring Tom Bombadil.  It made me curious about the scene and I wondered what it would be like on the big screen.  The Hobbit feels like Peter Jackson’s attempt to appease those fans by including everything and more.  So while I felt the first half of the film was stalling, I can’t really complain because we do get to see more Middle Earth.

Hobbit Hype: 10 Things I'm Looking Forward To | An Unexpected Journey

Normally, an hour of filler would absolutely kill a film but it’s a testament to Jackson’s directing skills that The Hobbit doesn’t die.  Each of the ‘detours’ are packed with the rich history of J.R.R Tolkien’s world as well as delightful references to the LOTR trilogy.  Characters we love return and we truly get a sense that something evil is coming.  Sauron.

Eventually, the film finds it’s focus and that’s when The Hobbit truly shines.  I absolutely adored the second half of An Unexpected Journey.  This is highlighted by Bilbo’s famous encounter with Gollum.  It was great to see one of the greatest characters in all of fiction back on the big screen.  From a technical perspective, Gollum has never looked better.  The technology behind this tortured soul has most certainly improved and watching him on an IMAX screen is spectacular.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review 2012 Gollum

Throughout the game of riddles we also follow the dwarves into the heart of Goblin town.  The whole Goblin escape is truly breathtaking on the big screen and a reminder that we are going to see MORE incredible battles in the next two films.  Indeed, Middle Earth has returned in a big way.

I had my complaints about the lengthy first half but The Hobbit is still a wildly entertaining movie.  It sucks that The Desolation of Smaug is a year away but hopefully we’ll have an extended edition Blu Ray before then.  The Lord of the Rings extended editions boast, in my opinion, the best special features of all time.  I can’t wait for more.

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XTRA | Love Middle Earth?  Here are 9 more fantastic movie worlds.

Hobbit Hype: 10 Things I'm Looking Forward To | An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit 2012

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa Except They’re Not… But They Could Be?

December 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

7 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa Except They're Not...  But They Could Be?

WHITE BEARD.  CHECK…  THAT’S ABOUT IT.

Requisites aside, there are many movie characters out there that just might be Santa hiding in another cinematic universe.  Perhaps he loses some weight and blends in as a writer?  Or a Wizard?  Or the proprietor of a theme park with real dinosaurs?  You be the judge.

Gandalf
The Lord of the Rings

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

Remember, I’m not saying that Gandalf is Santa Claus…  I’m just saying he’s magical and hangs out with elves…

Obi Wan Kenobi
Star Wars

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

I’ll admit, of the movie characters on this list, Obi Wan Kenobi is least likely to be Santa.  But if he was, can you imagine 9 reindeer with lightsabre noses tied to a speeder?

Joseph ‘Blue’ Palasky
Old School

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

It’s slightly humorous imagining a retired Santa who loses weight, joins a fraternity and wrestles half naked women in a pool of K-Y Jelly…

Steve Zissou
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

I could see Santa as an explorer.

William Forrester
Finding Forrester

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

A Santa that becomes a writer & changes lives.

Marley
Home Alone

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

Would Santa hide in suburbia shoveling salt and looking grumpy?  He would because underneath it all, he’s got a good heart.  He helps save a kid who screamed directly in his face.

Mr. Lundy
Mrs. Doubtfire

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

This guy looks the part more than any other AND he makes television shows for kids.

John Hammond
Jurassic Park

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

John Hammond is a billionaire who helps create real live dinosaurs on an island.  Is it too far fetched to think he could come up with a model train or two as well?

Bonus marks have to be given to actors who have actually played Santa in the past too.

8 Movie Characters That Look Like Santa BUT They Aren't...  Or are they?

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Top 10 Moments: The Two Towers

December 12, 2012 at 9:57 am

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

The Lord of the Rings Top 10 Moments Countdown continues with The Two Towers.  In part 1 of this series, I counted down the top 10 moments of The Fellowship of the Ring.  Narrowing the extended edition down to 10 moments wasn’t easy and The Two Towers was no different.  It’s hard to select specific moments from a film that features the battle at Helm’s Deep, Gollum, Ents and more.  There are simply too many classic moments I couldn’t fit in this countdown.

Click here for The Fellowship of the Ring

Click here for The Return of the King

Click here for The Top 30 Lord of the Rings Moments (Coming Soon)

HONORABLE MENTION: Gimli Pile Up

10. GANDALF VS BALROG 2: THE WIDE SHOT

If you’ve ever seen the special features, there’s a great sequence devoted to this Wizard vs Demon battle.  Pulling out for this breathtaking wide shot was a genius move by Peter Jackson.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

9. NUMBER 43

“He was twitching because he’s got my axe embedded in his nervous system”

Gimli and Legolas compete with each other throughout the trilogy but this moment really cemented their friendly rivalry.  Not a lot of respect for that dead Uruk Hai but I suppose it’s to be expected.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

8. LEGOLAS SHIELD SURFING

I think it’s lame that they refer to these Legolas moments as ‘Leggy’ moments but that doesn’t make them any less cool on screen.  The daring elf rides a shield down a staircase while firing arrows into enemy skulls.  Not too mention the skillful dismount sending the shield deep into the chest of a Saruman’s minion.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

7. IS THIS ALL YOU CAN CONJURE SARUMAN?

A massive explosion that spells doom for our heroes.  It’s also a fantastic showcase of the productions incredible miniatures.  (aka Bigatures)

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

6. MY BUSINESS IS WITH ISENGARD

This battle makes me laugh for a number of reasons other than the numerous giant trees that talk and squash Orcs.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

If you really pay attention when they break the damn, an Ent picks up an Orc and oh-so-casually tosses him in the path of destruction.  I’ve included a screen shot of the doomed Orc in mid air.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

During the battle, many Orcs are crushed but they still inflict damage on the Ents.  One unlucky Oak (or is it Ash?) is lit on fire.  What makes me laugh is how quickly this poor Ent darts towards the rushing water to douse the flames.  Great stuff.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

5. TOSS ME

Nobody tosses a Dwarf!

Setting up a joke in one film and paying it off in another is a rare occurrence on the big screen.  These moments don’t happen in the books but it’s a perfect example of attention to detail and a deep love of the material.  The screenwriting Oscars were well earned.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

4. MY PRECIOUS

Introducing Gollum.  One of the most beloved & fascinating characters in the history of fiction.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

3. THE GREAT STORIES

“What are we holding on to?”

This is a great speech and one of Sam’s shining moments in the trilogy.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

2. AT DAWN LOOK TO THE EAST

Gandalf returns just as our heroes and what’s left of Rohan meet their doom.  A fantastic and visually spectacular moment.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

1. GOLLUM VS SMEAGOL

“I hate you…”

Brilliant. Watching Smeagol struggle with his powerful inner demon before finally ridding himself of Gollum. This is a perfect moment that really illustrates the hold the Ring has on Smeagol.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ‘TWO TOWERS’ MOMENT?

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Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

Top 10 Moments: The Fellowship of the Ring

December 11, 2012 at 8:29 am

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the RingsThe Fellowship of the Ring

AN EPIC TALE FILLED WITH MOMENTS WE’LL NEVER FORGET

This is by far the toughest edition of the All Time Best Countdown I’ve ever produced.  How can you possibly decide on 10 moments from such a beloved series?  Step one: Start with a top 10 from each film.  This is Part 1 of a 4 part series where we countdown the most memorable moments from an incredible film.  A masterpiece.

It begins with The Fellowship of the Ring.

Click here for The Two Towers

Click here for The Return of the King

Click here for The Top 30 Lord of the Rings Moments (Coming Soon)

HONORABLE MENTION: Demon Bilbo

10. THE BIRTH OF LURTZ

The ghastly manner in which fighting Uruk Hai are ‘born’ is simultaneously fascinating and disgusting.  Surrounded by mud, filth and a layer or two of slime, Lurtz emerges and promptly kills an Orc with his bare hands.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

9. WEATHERTOP

The entire sequence on Weathertop is phenomenal.  Frodo’s first encounter with the Witch King and the rest of the nine is trumped only by Aragorn’s fiery assault on them.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

8. THE WATCHER IN THE WATER

A fantastic creature that lurks in the waters outside Moria.  A great moment that forces the fellowship into the mine where far greater threats live.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

7. HORSE TIDAL WAVE

From a pure visual effects perspective, this sequence must have extremely difficult to pull off.  Thankfully, they pulled it off and the resulting scene is absolutely stunning.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

6. THE CAVE TROLL

“They have a cave Troll”

Hey!  Pippin!  Try not to knock skeletons into wells causing enough noise to alert evil of your presence next time please…

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

5. I WILL TAKE IT / FELLOWSHIP

The moment that sets the entire saga in motion.  The Ringbearer steps forward and volunteers to take the ring to the worst place imaginable knowing full well it could cost him his life.  Gandalf’s reaction is incredible.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

4. ARAGORN VS LURTZ / MY KING

What do you think is going through Aragorn’s head when he stabs Lurtz in the gut only to have him pull the sword even deeper?

“Easy tough guy.  I just cut off your arm, you aren’t fooling anyone.  PS: Also… Say goodbye to your head.”

Of course, the awesome battle between Aragorn & Lurtz leads to the most emotional moment in the entire film.  Boromir’s death.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

3. DWARROWDELF

“Behold the great realm and dwarf city of Dwarrowdelf”

Epic.  It doesn’t get much bigger than Dwarrodelf.  An incredible image in a film OVERFLOWING with incredible images.  (I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the brilliance of the Argonaths as well.)

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

2. BOROMIR PIERCED BY MANY

Fighting through one arrow is one thing…  But four?  Boromir most definitely shows his quality as he fights off arrow after arrow in order to defend the Hobbits.  His courage is easily one of the best moments of the entire series.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

1. YOU SHALL NOT PASS

This stunning confrontation is a classic LOTR moment and by far my favorite moment of Fellowship.

In my opinion, the Balrog of Morgoth is one of the coolest monsters in movie history.  Beyond the amazing visuals, this moment also boasts one of the most quoted and easily recognizable lines from the series.

Gandalf vs Balrog…  Amazing.

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ‘FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING’ MOMENT?

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Top 10 Moments: The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring