The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a quiet and comfortable life in his home in a hill in The Shire, but that life gets a wake up call one day in the form of a tall, bearded wizard named Gandalf (Ian McKellen). It seems Bilbo has been chosen to take part in an adventure, and before night falls his home is filled with a dozen dwarves emptying his pantry, singing songs and planning their great journey. After some consternation Bilbo agrees to join the troupe, and this baker’s dozen plus one head off towards The Lonely Mountain which was once homeland to the dwarves but is now the residence of one very large and very dangerous dragon, Smaug. The story is a familiar one thanks to a source novel from J.R.R. Tolkien that hasn’t left print since its publication in 1937 and continued success as one of literature’s finest fantasy adventures for young readers. It’s reached the screen previously in animated form, and its sequel, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, conquered multiplexes a decade ago with wondrous adaptations by director Peter Jackson. Jackson returns with co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens to bring The Hobbit to the big screen across two (or three) feature films. Why a 310 page novel needs more than one film when the trilogy’s 1571 collective pages worked beautifully across just three movies is anyone’s guess, but you can’t argue with accountants apparently. Also returning are a few cast members and characters from the trilogy, some […]

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There’s a great short starring Martin Freeman making the rounds this week, and I recommend watching that two-year-old film, titled The Girl is Mime, when you get the chance. But there’s another short led by the actor that I’d like to showcase this weekend in anticipation of The Hobbit. Way back in 1998, before Freeman was in Sherlock or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Love Actually or even his breakthrough, the original UK version of The Office, he had two small yet notable gigs. One was appearing alongside Doctor Who‘s Shaun Dingwall in Vito Rocco’s music video for Faith No More’s cover of “I Started a Joke.” The other was starring in the 11-minute black and white film I Just Want to Kiss You. Written and directed by Jamie Thraves, best known for music videos he’s helmed for Blur, Radiohead and Coldplay, this French New Wave-style throwback has Freeman looking very young and very skinny and actually quite goofy as a guy just hanging out with his mate and meeting girls and getting into trouble with his dad. The goofiness is a bit surprising if you primarily think of Freeman as the straight man of The Office and Hitchhiker’s Guide and other such gigs. I certainly don’t know of him doing a lot of voices and vocal sound effects and the sort of spry physicality he exhibits in the short these days. Yet it does fit nicely alongside his completely physical performance in The Girl is Mime, and though he’s […]

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The Hobbit: There and Back Again

The first film in Peter Jackson‘s new three-entry The Hobbit franchise, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is still a week away from release, but that hasn’t stopped the production from rolling out, wait, what? a picture from the third film in the series? Fortunately, this first look stars a fan favorite from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Orlando Bloom as Legolas. But, sorry, just what is Legolas doing in The Hobbit: There and Back Again? He’s not in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s book! As Jackson explains it: “He’s [elven king] Thranduil’s son, and Thranduil is one of the characters in The Hobbit, and because elves are immortal it makes sense Legolas would be part of the sequence in the Woodland Realm.” Fair enough. Alongside Bloom? That’s Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman, a Laketown warrior who will be getting a bit more attention in the film than he did in the series’ source material, with screenwriter and producer Philippa Boyens explaining, “We take more time introducing him. We know from what follows that he was a father, so we [explore] that. I don’t think we take liberties, because it’s all there in the storytelling.” The first film in the series, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will hit theaters next week in 2D, 3D, and IMAX on December 14. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will be released on December 13, 2013, and the final entry, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be released on July 18, 2014. [EW]

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Django Unchained

This last month of 2012 is packed with movies to suck up our time when we need it the most. You got Tom Cruise stretching his acting muscles as an action hero, Russell Crowe singing in the shower, Matt Damon getting all teary eyed nostalgic over old America, and more. Plenty of variety before the apocalypse ruins our chance of ever seeing what Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s Batman would be like. If this is our final month of filmgoing, then so be it. With Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, Judd Apatow, Kathryn Bigelow, Christopher McQuarie, and Gus Van Sant all jollying up our holiday season, we couldn’t ask for a better last hurrah for movies if those apocalypse rumors are proven correct. Before we all die horrible and painful deaths, make sure to see these films:

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If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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The Avengers

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news column that was on hiatus, but has now been back for a solid week. And it feels good to be back. As Ernie Hudson might remark, it loves this town. Short on List, Big on Effects – The big Oscar shortlist for Best Visual Effects has come out. And while it includes some of the ones you’d expect — The Avengers, Cloud Atlas, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises — there are also a few interesting surprises, including Prometheus, Life of Pi, John Carter and yes, even The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The question is this: will The Hobbit run away with this one due to a late-year release, or will people remember that ridiculous following shot through the war-torn streets of New York in The Avengers?

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By now, you’ve probably already decided which format you’re going to see Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in, be it IMAX, 3D, 24 FPS, 48 FPS, 2D, PQUEZ (that one is a joke, you guys) or otherwise, but it looks like the marketing team behind the production just might have thrown a wrench into your decision. For those intrepid midnight movie-goers, Warner Bros. and IMAX have teamed up to put together a package of no less than four exclusive character posters for the film, posters that will only be given away to fans who come out to see the film for a 12:01AM 3D screening on December 14 at select IMAX theaters. While these posters should pretty much sell themselves, it is essential to note that these screenings will not be in 48 frames per second. But, hey, free posters. And Star Trek Into Darkness footage! Think you want to go? Check out this list of participating theaters that will all be doing the 12:01AM screenings with posters for giveaway (while supplies last, of course). Check out all four posters after the break.

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Air New Zealand and The Hobbit

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that counts down the best links and notes of the day. Today, it has a theme. Because who doesn’t love a good theme? We begin our unexpected journey (see what I did there?) with all kinds of marketing and news for The Hobbit, because there isn’t enough going around about this movie. The folks in New Zealand are especially stoked. Air New Zealand even painted some characters on their plane. Somewhere Murray from Flight of the Conchords is admitting defeat. Or he’s doing last-minute ADR work for The Hobbit. Either way…

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Lord of the Rings Slot

According to Variety, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is filing suit against Warners, New Line and the Saul Zaentz Company for what they claim is a breach of their original 1969 licensing agreement. The estate is seeking $80m. At issue here is the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit-flavored slot machines and online gambling games that the estate claims violate the limited use terms of their agreement (they probably couldn’t have anticipated internet gambling or video games in 1969, and the contract apparently doesn’t cover rights for media not yet devised at the time of signing). The good news here is that this scrape between partners shouldn’t at all affect their ability to make movies together. They have a symbiotic business relationship that creates vast amounts of money, so it’s easy to imagine that even if this creates some soreness, both have a vested interest in continuing to mine for gold together.

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The Hobbit

Just a day after Peter Jackson and his team released Neil Finn’s song from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the folks at Empire have released the full soundtrack for free online. Now you can get a preview of what the December 13 release will hold. The score is from composer Howard Shore, who as you know also served as music man behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s all got a very Middle Earthian feel to it, as is appropriate for such a release. However, fans will undoubtedly find enough in Shore’s new score that feels fresh and new.

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Movie News: The Hobbit Posters

What is Movie News After Dark? It happens thrice times per week. It’s awesome. You can read it. Right now. We begin this evening’s marketing-heavy edition of Movie News After Dark with the absurdity of the day. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a new trilogy from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, now has seventeen character posters that can be ogled. It’s a little much, even for what may turn out to be the biggest film of the year. Above you’ll see Dwalin, a badass dwarf. Just after the jump, Gandalf and his fall collection.

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It just doesn’t stop, does it? Not only is one film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s “The Hobbit” not enough for movie fans (or director Peter Jackson? or his vast and very talented cast? or the country of New Zealand?), two film adaptations are also not enough, so you better believe that just one soundtrack isn’t even close to good enough for a production that has now ballooned to include three films based on one novel. WaterTower Music has just announced (via Fandango) the release of the official soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and, shock of shocks, just one disc isn’t going to cut it. The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack will arrive in stores and online on December 11 as a two-disc set, with a Special Edition also available on that same day. The so-called Special Edition will include six exclusive bonus tracks, seven extended score cues, and deluxe liner notes. The soundtrack features an original score by Academy Award winner Howard Shore (who also did the score for Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy), along with a new original song by Crowded House’s Neil Finn. You can check out the full track listing for both editions of the soundtrack after the break, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Gollum in the Wellington Airport

As we’ve learned from Flight of the Conchords, one of the only things that New Zealand is known for these days is Lord of the Rings. And they seem to be quite proud of it. As evidence in this new art installation by Weta at the Wellington, New Zealand airport. Opening this week, the massive statue of Gollum reaching out to catch a juicy sweet fish will now greet travelers as they enter the terminal. As you will see from the images below, it’s both awe-inspiring and terribly frightening.

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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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The Hobbit Martin Freeman

It’s not unfair to say that Butt-Numb-a-Thon 5 turned me into a cinephile. Something about the combination of seeing Oldboy and Buster Keaton’s death-defying The General with a live accompaniment shook something loose in my brain. I was fortunate enough to have parents that shared their favorites with me through the magic of AMC and TCM, but sitting in the Colorado Street Alamo Drafthouse, surrounded by strangers and beautiful cinema was graduation time. For those who don’t know, the easiest explanation for BNAT is as a 24-hour film festival put on with the bottomless knowledge of Harry Knowles from Aint It Cool and the showman’s flair of Tim League. Sometimes that involves eating scrambled eggs after watching the live birth in Teenage Mother or getting a Fleshlight just before seeing Hobo With a Shotgun. At any rate, Harry has just posted the application (complete with explanation for why you need to fill one out) that could become your ticket to attending. If you’re curious about what’s played before, here’s a great place to look, but the line-up is always a giant surprise. That element makes the event even more special, but given the timing and the festival’s history, it’s probably a good bet that a certain Peter Jackson movie will be on tap (and Jackson himself might make another appearance). Beyond that, it’s a mystery, and hearing what Harry has up his sleeve is a thing of joy. So if the thought of learning that you’re about to see a rare print of Orson […]

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Some of you may already know me by my Twitter handle: @thefilmcynic. It’s a name I’ve gone by for nearly a decade (so, before current social media outlets), because I’m very cynical about the film industry and try to keep my expectations low. I’m also very cynical about the Academy Awards and awards season in general, because we devote so much focus on them — with a wide spectrum of positive and negative angles — and they’re really a bunch of malarkey (much like the V.P. debate, which has inspired my newfound obsession with that word). So, the higher ups at FSR have asked me to write a cynical column devoted to the Oscars. The first one is inspired by the films Seven Psychopaths, Looper and Lincoln and their celebrated performances. As someone who has studied acting (I’m not very good at it), I’ve long taken issue with the way people look at film performances, because there are just so many different kinds. But there are two real distinct types that we tend to recognize while watching and writing about movies that aren’t acknowledged by the Academy: realistic and artificial. The former has been a big favorite since method acting came into play, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to that style nor does that style necessarily always mean realism. The latter could be more expressive and therefore goes back to the dawn of cinema and its silent performances or could even be more stiff, if that’s what’s intended. Directors who […]

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The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that does not need an animated continuation. It just goes on and on with very live action. We begin this evening with a shot from The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2, the animated follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns. Warner Home Video has released the image with a promise to show some footage at the upcoming New York Comic-Con. This should continue to hold you off until Warner Bros. can figure out what they’re doing with live-action Batman. Or at least until the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy is available on Blu-ray.

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Reading J.R.R. Tolkien‘s “The Hobbit” and processing its myriad characters can be confusing enough for kid brains (I remember, quite vividly, making a cheat sheet of all the names within the book, a list that I stuck in the back of my paperback copy and would refer to frequently), and few of those names are more interchangeable (and confusing) than that of the thirteen dwarves who accompany Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf on their (unexpected) journey. I mean, the rhyming, while sweet, is just not helpful when trying to differentiate between Thorin and Gloin and Oin, but that’s just how things are in Middle-earth. Of course, now we have three whole films to look forward to, and a massive cast of talent to finally put faces to (a multitude of) names. So why not use a handy dandy banner to brush up on all the dwarves we will soon meet in Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Heck, even Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellan) are there! Take a look at the banner after the break. How many dwarves can you name before you look at it?

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Welcome to the first installment of the CriterionCast takeover of Movie News After Dark. While Neil spends the week singing karaoke, or whatever it is that you kids do at Fantastic Fest, I’ll attempt to fill his manly, bearded shoes with my own geeky art-house sensibilities. Speaking of Fantastic Fest, the folks handling the PR have been releasing a ton of great material for all of us non-attendees, to soothe the pain. Apparently Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Brothers Bloom) joined in on the nerd karaoke fun that everyone was talking about this weekend, and they sent out a hefty pack of high resolution images, to help prove what we already know to be true: Rian Johnson is the coolest.

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Fans are undoubtedly ready for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with willing hearts, and the second trailer is a fantastic look at the action of the film as well as some of the humor. Without question, Peter Jackson has recreated the massive scale of Middle-Earth, and all signs point to another adventure into the realm of darkness with an excellent, ragtag band of characters. And then there’s Gollum. How they managed to get that possible Jar Jar right in the first trilogy is a mystery (the answer is probably mostly Andy Serkis), but he looks like he’ll play his usual important role here – dedicated to worshipping his Precious (based on the novel…you get it) and threatening hilarious bodily harm against far hobbits. December cannot get here fast enough. [Apple]

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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