Posts Tagged With: Ian McKellan

The Hobbit: Some Unexpected Reactions

After a decade of waiting…yes, I’m one of those…I got to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last night. I’ll try and refrain from spoilers, (and I think I succeeded) but I do want to record some of my impressions while they are fresh.


Let’s start with the controversial bit. I went into the theater so excited to experience the HFR 3D. From the reviews I’ve read the prevalent attitude is that you either love or hate the format. That wasn’t the case for me. There were moments, when I truly believed the hype that this will be the future of cinema. The sweeping panoramic shots were magnificent. Small details were so very clear. And my biggest issue with 3D was eliminated completely. At no point during the nearly three hour film did I have to rest my eyes because of eye strain.

However, I can now relate to the critics who said they never adjusted to the new format. The immersive experience that I so enjoy when going to the movie theater was missing because I was fully aware through the entire film that I was watching a film. This was especially apparent to me after having watched the LOTRs trilogy last weekend at the same theater. There were moments that the screen was too bright–which if I understand correctly is a byproduct of filming in 3D. And movements on screen, that would normally be tempered by the slower frame rate, were extra clear and in your face, which distracted me, keeping me firmly in the real world. This seemed to be particularly noticeable with Bilbo.

Even with my reservations, I’m not ready to write HFR 3D off. This being the first feature film ever made with the new format, it would be crazy to expect perfection. So, this time it didn’t quite do it for me, but I could see glimmers of how spectacular the experience can be. There are more details that need to be taken into consideration with the added frames and I feel certain that film makers who use the format will continue to work out the kinks.


When I read the criticism about pacing, I wanted to reserve judgement until I had seen the film for myself. Now, I can agree with some of the complaints. The inclusion of Frodo, while understandable just dragged on for me. I think it was only a few minutes, but all I could think was, “Come on, let’s get to the story!” Likewise, the introduction of the various dwarves could have been more condensed than it was. I suspect that the dwarf arrivals were drawn out to give us time to get to know each of the dwarves, however, it felt like an excuse to fill time. (Yeah, harsh I know.)

Once the company hit the road, the pacing issues disappeared. In fact, the film was so jam packed–Trolls, Elves, Goblins, Riddles in the Dark, Orcs and Eagles–I would have felt cheated if anything passed the Bag End scenes had been shortened.

I loved seeing Sir Ian McKellan back as Gandalf. It really would have been a travesty for anyone else to play the role. Martin Freeman was a perfect Bilbo. He manages to balance the dramatic and comedic to perfection, as well as the inner conflict between the comfort loving Baggins and the adventure seeking Took. Richard Armitage truly was magificent as Thorin, his ablility to convey anger, vengance, fear, pride, and even gratitude were unhampered by the prosthetics. Plus, it was nice to see him wielding a sword again…this time with the adept skill of a hardened warrior!

I had intentionally avoided spoilers that gave away the ending to the film, as I wanted to be surprised by where Peter Jackson and company chose to split the story. So I won’t spoil that for any of you who haven’t seen the film yet, But I have to say, it felt like an appropriate ending, and left me with a great sense of anticipation for the next film. Do we really have to wait another year?


On a side note for those who haven’t seen the film–if you are ever even slightly inclined to squee in public you must prepare yourselves. The below image is just a blip of a totally engrossing scene.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Articles Galore: My Favorite Bits

Is anyone else feeling like there brain is a bit fried? I finally made it through the various Hobbit articles from today. There was so much wonderful info about various aspects of the production and then of course the crown jewel, that interview with Richard Armitage. I didn’t want to lose track of the things I found interesting from each article, so I went through and documented them.


I love how honest Ian McKellan is when talking about filming with the slave camera.

I can’t see the people I’m talking to, so they’re represented by pictures on top of poles, which light up when they’re talking, and I hear them through a sound piece in my ear. I didn’t feel like being back, I wanted to go away. I was very, very unhappy, miserable.

But he really does care about the fans, which endears me to him even more.

…it was the sort of feeling we had by the time we were making The Return of The King, that there had already been two films gone out, which had been much enjoyed. So we felt, which you don’t often feel when you’re doing a job, this is a job that the audience want me to do.

Martin Freeman’s views on being like Ian Holm’s Bilbo, yet doing his own thing are spot on IMHO.

There’s only so much you can run with someone else’s thing. It’s very helpful, in the way that it’s brilliant as he is always brilliant, and it’s a beautiful establisher of that character, and a very loved one, for obvious reasons. But it can also hamper you if there’s even part of me thinking, ‘How would Ian have done this?’, then I’m f****d. So I’ve got to let that go.

PJ letting the actors develop the different personalities for the dwarves is really cool.

But Jed Brophy, who plays Nori, hails Peter Jackson for allowing him and his fellow dwarves to carve out their characters’ individuality. “We were given quite a lot of scope, in terms of the personalities we were allowed to bring to the characters. But the story has very clearly defined people telling the story, and in terms of the fans and in terms of the people who know the story, they have to pay tribute to that as well. So there’s a fine balance between us bringing too much personality that’s not written, but enough to make them individual from each other. So in terms of making them individual, we had a great deal of scope, and Peter’s great at pulling back on if you do too much. But he’d rather see too much than too little.


I’m such a big fan of the look of Middle Earth in the LOTRs, that I was nervous when Guillermo del Toro was slated to direct. I wanted to see a middle earth that jived with PJ’s original trilogy. So, this made me happy:

The way that I went into it when I got involved as a director was that I’d go into it as exactly the same filmmaker that did ‘Lord of the Rings,'” Jackson explains, “like I’m returning to Middle-earth. In the sense that it’s a real place and I’m there to tell another story.

I laughed at this, because I pronounced Smaug wrong for ages:

(A room full of online journalists was shamed when [REDACTED] corrected us that it’s actually pronounced “Sm-ow-g” rather than “Sm-aw-g” due to the nature of the Elven language).

How cool is it that PJ is so into the ideas of his actors?

“I remembered that Emily Bronte had two dogs, hounds, called Grasper and Keeper,” McTavish explains. “…I thought that they would be great names for Dwalin’s axes. That he grasps your soul with one axe and keeps it with the other. When I suggested it to Peter… he went, ‘Oh yeah! That would be great! We could get it in Elvish and the fans will love that!’ So, there they are. Literally, the next day they appeared.”

I would have loved to listen to them training!

“We’d done a lot of training,” Brophy recalls of the Bag End scene, “getting our voices to the right pitch to be in harmony with one another. On the day, we realized it was a fairly solemn occasion. These Dwarves don’t usually rip into the song without good reason. Peter explained the solemnity of the song and the reason why we do it is to try and get ourselves girded to go on this long journey, to remind ourselves of what we are as a people and what we’re going to do.”


Right on HitFix, you totally nailed it with this comment!

Sitting with Armitage it’s clear he’ll be the sexiest dwarf to appear in Jackson’s Middle Earth film.


As an Armitage fan this was bound to grab my attention:

Taylor says that Thorin presented the greatest design challenge, both in terms of of his prosthetics and his costume. The Weta team wanted to capture the character’s nobility as well as his inner darkness and world weariness. Armitage’s prosthetic forehead is extremely thin, according to Taylor, “probably less than point-one of a millimeter thick on the eyebrows,” ensuring that Armitage can convey a full range of emotions with his face.

Styling Bilbo’s wardrobe after Tolkien’s, awesome!

How do you figure out how Bilbo Baggins dresses? Peter Jackson figured, why not look at Tolkien himself? Bilbo’s country gentleman attire, notably his jacket and his smoking pipe, have their origins in the author’s own accoutrements.

I liked this description of the dwarves:

Buck described the Dwarves as “blokey” and “almost like a biker gang in a way.

I knew I couldn’t be the only one who looked at Bofur’s hat and thought of Jayne Cobb!

Incidentally, Bofur may have the best hat in all of media. Sorry, Jayne Cobb.

I bet John Rhys-Davies is jealous since it took him 3 1/2 hours to become Gimli.

It takes just an hour to give Richard Armitage Thorin’s face.

Thank goodness for job security. Seriously though, I’m highly impressed by people who have not only the skill for this kind of work, but also the patience.

After a day of shooting, a prosthetic can’t be reused, and each one needs to be hand-painted with each eyebrow hair hand-punched. That’s a lot of detail work with tiny hairs.

Dark Horizons:

I always love to read descriptions of Richard Armitage from those who meet him, whether fans or interviewers.

In person Armitage is a surprisingly demure man for his height and stature, soft-spoken and reserved, but in an honest and almost shy way that makes him endearing.

And they did some background research about RA.

He’s also known for thoroughly researching his roles and coming up with all sorts of interesting takes on his characters. He says he used the devastation in Hiroshima at the end of WWII as an inspiration for the kind of devastation that drove the dwarves away from their homeland.

Collider: (The in-depth interview that was my favorite of all of today’s articles!)

I’ve shared with a few people that Richard Armitage was not how I pictured Thorin at all. While I had total faith he could pull the character off with his talent, there was a time that I was nervous he wouldn’t look right. Because of that, I can relate to those who were nervous about his casting and therefore loved this comment:

Thankfully, if you’ve seen the trailers, you know that he not only looks the part, but he can lead a group of dwarves in song.  While I don’t know about the rest of you, right after I heard the group singing in the first trailer, I was completely sold on all the casting.

Don’t you just love any reason for the man to grow his own beard! 😉

When it comes to the action stuff, and especially water and any kind of battle cry, it just starts to lift, and there’s much less fuss with this. And it looks better, I think.

Richard Armitage is a human with insecurities like the rest of us and it really is endearing.

And even through the early days of rehearsal and shooting, I didn’t really unpack my bag for about three weeks, ’cause I thought that I was going to be on the plane going home. But yeah, it’s worked out all right.

The excitement and joy he expresses about working on this production is infectious.

Every place we’ve arrived, it’s been– You don’t really have to do much work, like today, you don’t have to do much work. You sit in a barrel and get thrown around.

Yeah, you leap out of bed every morning and get to the top of a mountain. We had a few days like that where it just takes your breath away. Today is about just having fun, no dialogue.

As fans, we know from past interviews how much thought he puts into every character, but I loved reading about how much he put into creating Thorin. I could put so many quotes here, but I’ll just put a few of my favorites.

I think they needed him to be, and we– Well, I needed him to be heroic on the battlefield and somebody that still has a potential to rise to that state of brilliance on a battlefield, even though it’s like– He’s like a flame that’s fluttering, and has nearly been extinguished, but it has the potential to re-ignite.

You have to remove your human sentiment when it comes to greed and the accumulation of wealth. They see it as a very positive thing. But this particular group of dwarves, only thirteen of them have come out on this quest. Everyone else turned their backs and said, “No, no, no, leave it alone. Stay away from that mountain.” So it really is about thirteen survivors that are going to attempt to do something which people have dissuaded other dwarves from doing.

I, personally, from Thorin’s point of view, I think he’s thinking less about the gold and more about his people and his own personal agenda with his grandfather, his father, and his nemesis Azog who slaughtered his grandfather.

I don’t know about you all, but I’d be exhausted at the end of the day:

At my heaviest, I’ve carried an extra thirty kilos on top of my own, so it’s about a quarter of my own body weight on top of what I already have.

“Holy Shit” moments are some of my favorites in LOTRs. I’m looking forward to them in The Hobbit films as well!

They set fire to K-Stage, and I did a slow motion sprint through the forest which was on fire. And they were dousing the stunt guy with the flame retardant gel. And then he stood and watched me do it, at which I had a ‘holy shit’ moment. I was like, “You’re not going to put any of that on me.” But that was kind of cool.

I think I put a shield through my lip and I smashed the shield in and had a mouthful of blood and this big, huge broken lip, and he said, “Okay, can you just try another one now?” I’m like, “Yeah, okay”, with this big mouthful of blood. But it looks great on the shot, because I’ve got this sort of bleeding teeth and it’s dripping out of my face…That’s, maybe, a ‘holy shit’ moment, swallowing my own teeth.

The thought of the writers rewriting the script to better suit the actors and the characters is really cool.

And that’s what I love about Philippa and Fran and Pete, the way they write is that they start to hear your voice, and they write for you, and they write for all of those characters. So the script has to change from where they started.

Um, Mr. Armitage…I think people are going to start recognizing you sooner than you think or even would like–beard or not.

With the beard off? It’s interesting, ’cause that character really doesn’t look anything like me, so it’s kind of nice. It will be good.

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EW Hobbit Article Scans

I should be packing, but I’ve taken a break because my Entertainment Weekly came in the mail!!!! I know a lot of you don’t have access to a printed magazine, so I scanned the pages. Enjoy!

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