Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

Tolkien expert POLARIS is back with her look at THE HOBBIT 2!

15 Feb

The Hobbit….Take 2 or 2.0

"Wait a minute, I don't remember this scene in the book..."

“Wait a minute, I don’t remember this scene in the book…”

Another year, and another Hobbit movie has come to remind us why we love Middle Earth so damn much.  Which is great, because this is one hell of a fun ride and The Two Towers it is not.  I am at times torn over what to think of the film.  And while ultimately I will need to see the third installment to decide my final opinion of this film, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to let this one sit by the wayside and not review it until the third one comes out next year.  For me there’s a lot to love, a little to wonder about, and just a smidge that makes me sit back and go, “really?”  So on with the show.

See this movie….on a giant screen…IMAX if you can.  As with the other 4 movies, the shots are breathtaking, the scenery gorgeous, and Peter Jackson’s attention to detail unreal.  I’ve always enjoyed how he doesn’t just show you New Zealand in all its glory masquerading as Middle Earth.  He shows it in such a way that you could really believe that you were watching this take place in some otherworldly realm.  The surroundings are such a part of the story and fit so well that at times it’s very hard to believe that CG didn’t create the wondrous landscapes displayed before us.  The setting is as much a part of the stories as the actors and it is something that deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible.

"Is it my turn to talk yet?" "NOT YET, BIFUR."

“Is it my turn to talk yet?” “NOT YET, BIFUR.”

The actors very much continue to inhabit their characters rather that just perform them on screen, but as with the first one, with a cast so large there are those that get shortchanged, more so for the dwarves in this one that the last one (which is saying something).  Little more than half of them seem to speak more than one sentence, and the bulk of the dwarf screen time appears to be split between Thorin, Kili, Balin, and Dwalin, with just a sprinkling of Fili and Bofur.  Oin gets a bit of a promotion in that he actually gets something to do this time around, but as it was I’d had to look up which one he was once I got home because I don’t recall his name being mentioned at any time.  The others are relegated to once again having single lines, background group speaking, and generally crazy hairstyles in a vain attempt to keep them memorable as they do little more than fill a space in the company.  It’s a difficult conundrum when dealing with thirteen dwarfs who even in the book only had a couple standout members, though Peter Jackson does try to remedy this somewhat with some changes to the story (more on that bit later). Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen continue their awesome streak, and Richard Armitage gives great depth to Thorin Oakenshield as we see his character go from semi-brooding dick to caring leader to greedy asshole.  It’s great seeing Orlando Bloom crop up as Legolas once more (who at this point if I see him in a movie in normal clothes it just seems wrong), and the inclusion of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Thranduil’s Captain of the Guard, makes for some fun fight scenes and some….interesting twists (again, more on that bit later).

"KHAAAAAAAAN!"

“KHAAAAAAAAN!”

Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch.  Holy fuck.  The more I see this guy the more I fucking love him.  Giving voice to both Smaug and The Necromancer, he brings those characters frighteningly to life just as Andy Serkis did with Gollum.  He’s actually managed to gain entry into that rare group of actors for which if they’re in a movie, even if it looks terrible, I will watch it at least once because I’m willing to bet that even if the movie sucks balls said actor will not, making it worth a watch.  He’s a talent to behold, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  But “what of the story?” you may ask, well…

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Tolkien expert POLARIS reviews The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

7 Jan

The Hobbit

The Unexpected Movie

The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThat’s right, folks: The movie many hoped Peter Jackson would make as we watched the end credits roll on The Return of the King has indeed been made….into three movies.  I initially was overjoyed at the prospect of three more movies.  Then, the dread set in and I wondered what the fuck Jackson was thinking taking a story as short as The Hobbit and breaking it into three.  Even with material from the appendices that seemed a bit of a stretch.  Much to my pleasant surprise, it appears he may well have pulled it off.  At least the first little bit of it.

Any way you look at it, The Hobbit had a lot of high expectations put on it, setting it up to fail gloriously as most things do when such is the case.  However, this first installment manages to hold up very well.  It’s doesn’t evoke the same jaw-dropping awesomeness Fellowship did when it came out, but then I don’t think anything ever will, and that’s OK.  One of the big challenges with making this movie was what had already come before.  The Lord of the Rings was epic on a massive scale whereas The Hobbit, while still having a huge nasty fucking dragon to kill, is about a small group trying to take back their homeland and riches for themselves.  Which brings in the challenge of taking a quaint, adventuring, kids’ bedtime story and giving it the epic treatment while still staying true to the book.

Hobbit going on an adventure

I’m going on an adventure, so tell your kids to shut up so everyone can enjoy it!

On a whole, I very much enjoyed the movie and would put it in my top ten of 2012.  The level of detail put into even the smallest of items perhaps glanced at for mere moments on the screen shows how much love was put into making this film.  The soundtrack sets the mood perfectly for every scene as we move through new unexplored areas of Middle Earth.  The visuals are top notch and the locations are so damn amazing that it makes you wonder how the hell all these different zones exist in one small-ish island nation.  Though there have been changes made for the sake of making a more compelling story, the vast majority of it works giving you a fun movie that is new but at the same time feels just a little familiar.

Hobbit dwarves

Click to embiggen. There will be a test.

I’ve seen some complaints about the pacing of the movie and how too much time was spent in Hobbiton for the set up and I couldn’t disagree more.  We’re already familiar with Gandalf and Bilbo but there are still thirteen new characters to introduce and the time spent with them at that beginning dinner party helps give the audience an idea of who each of these new people are.  That way we see and remember these new characters as opposed to just going “which dwarf is that again”.  There is more growth as the film moves on, but that first impression is very important to making each member of the company and individual and memorable.  That said, even with spending additional time throughout the movie with these characters there are a few that stick out in my mind as “which dwarf is that again”.  These are Oin, Bifur, Dori, and Nori.  If I didn’t know any better I would think that they were aware of this going into filming because these are the coincidently the ones with craziest hair/beard styles as well.  Not to mention that Gloin is only memorable because he’s been made to look like his son Gimli who we’re all familiar with from the trilogy.

And that is perhaps the biggest fault of this movie….the original trilogy.  I understand throwing in a couple nod and a wink moments for fans of those films, but some of it is just fucking ridiculous.  Showing them Continue reading

Is our comics “Art”?

3 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Bleeding Cool says the original cover painting for Tintin in America just sold for $1.6 million, a new world record. To which I say – to my university art professor, who claimed “illustration” was not “art”: SUCK IT!

Tintin in America original cover art

I’ve got 1.6 million bucks that says this is art.

That same “teacher” criticized me for presenting the class with this classic Frank Frazetta cover:

Weird Science-Fantasy #29 cover

from Weird Science-Fantasy #29 (1955). Note the masterful placement of every element of the drawing to lead the viewer’s eye.

The previous year, I had a much more open-minded art professor. For an assignment to replicate a masterwork using the same materials (I assume, to see if any students had a career in counterfeiting!), he let me do this instead:

Deathblow splash by Mike Hansen (after Jim Lee)

photo of Deathblow splash page by me (after Jim Lee), I think from Deathblow #2 (1993).

I learned more from this assignment than from anything I did in art class the following year!

Comic-Con 2011

6 Sep
Comic-Con

Image by Laughing Squid via Flickr

I was able to attend Comic-Con in San Diego back in July for the first time in years. I got to reconnect with a lot of old friends and make a lot of new friends (Hi, everybody!). And I somehow managed to not spend a ton of money on comics, which kept my lovely wife from murdering me.

The best thing about Comic-Con is that you can pretty much do whatever you want and have a blast – as long as you’re not trying to get into the movie/TV panels (it’s not much fun waiting in line for hours). This trip was strictly business, at least during the day: I focused on meeting old friends and making professional contacts, and attending panels that would make me a better writer and publisher. (I’m still torn about whether to self-publish my own work when it’s ready – it’s still very much in progress at the moment.)

I learned that it’s important to have friends at the Con who look for fun opportunities: Continue reading

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