Tagged: Bilbo Baggins

John Ostrander’s Writing Class: Newton’s First Law of Plot

Young_Bilbo_BagginsStory reveals character through action – the plot. There are two primary ways that the plot works: 1) the protagonist initiates the action or 2) the protagonist is thrust into a situation and the plot reveals what happens. In each case, the character’s defenses are stripped away as we get down to who they really are – not who they (or anyone else) think they are. What is important is not what the character says (or anybody else says about them); it’s what they do. It’s what they choose to do. Their choices define them.

How do we determine what a given character will do in any given situation? It depends on their motivation. It’s not simply what they want; it’s what they need. It’s not just what they desire; it‘s what they lust for. I may want a pizza, but that’s not strong enough a motivation to drive a story. It may not drive me; I have to get into the car and go pick it up. Or, worse, make my own. How much do I really want that pizza? Maybe it comes down to how good that pizza is. I’d probably go a long way for a deep dish pizza. Mmmmmm. Deep dish pizza! Where was I?

We want something that will drive a character to action and that’s not always easy. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts upon it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. That’s true in a narrative as well. Maybe we’ll call it Newton’s first law of plot.

We all have a certain amount of inertia especially as we grow older. Change can be difficult. We have routine and that can be comforting. However, as Samuel Beckett noted in Waiting For Godot, “Habit can be a great deadener.” In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is apparently satisfied with his life – his home, his books, his tea, regular meals, and handkerchiefs. Then one day a wizard and a whole mess of dwarves invade his sanctum and, before he knows it, he finds himself running down a road, off on an adventure, forgetting his handkerchief.

Why? Because something has been stirred in his soul, the desire to see far off lands, to meet elves, to do the things he has read about in his books. It speaks to a side of him that he has not often indulged.

Bilbo wants to keep his life just as it is but he also wants to have an adventure. It’s not that he wants only the one thing. Like all of us, he has more than one desire and all are important to him. It is the decision that informs us about his character and, not coincidently, drives the story forward. It is the necessary decision for us but not the only one Bilbo could have made. The more difficult the choice, the more interesting the decision and the more it tells us about who this person is.

We rarely want one thing at a time and we often have to sort out conflicting wants and needs. The choices we make define us. As with us, so with the characters we write. What’s true in life should be true in our writing. If you want to write an interesting, and complex character, give them conflicting choices with no easy answers.

That’s the job.

 

John Ostrander: A Fair-to-Middling Earth

Ostrander Art 140126Different media have different demands, and adapting work done in one medium for another can be problematic. Comics, especially super-hero comics, used to be very difficult to make into films. We did not believe a man could fly; we believed he was lying belly down on a table with a fan blowing over him. However, CGI and other technology caught up with films and, today, some might say the superhero film is more faithful to the feel and spirit of the lead character than the comics are.

I think that’s the key, especially when adapting novels into films. Novels are too long to be strictly adapted into movies; Game of Thrones works fairly well, as does The Walking Dead, because they are TV series. The episodic nature allows for the kind of development that mirrors the length and structure of the source material.

It comes down to what do you keep in, what do you cut; what do you omit and what do you add; what plot elements are the most important, what are less important; what’s necessary to tell the story? What choices do you make? These are basic questions for any story but are even more vital when you’re adapting another person’s creation. How true must you be to the source material – to the letter or to the spirit? Who is the primary storyteller?

When it was first announced that The Lord of the Rings was going to be made into movies, I was hesitant, dubious, and worried. I love LotR and I just didn’t see how it could be done. However, director Peter Jackson made a believer out of me. His adaptation is not perfect, no, but the fact that it exists is damn near a miracle.

When The Hobbit was announced, initially I was very psyched. Originally, Peter Jackson was only going to produce, not direct, but due to delays he eventually wound up taking over the director’s reins again. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit initially as a children’s book and, while in the same setting of Middle-Earth as LotR, Tolkien only later amended the book to tie into the later work. Some characters appear in both works.

The Hobbit is a shorter book than LotR so I was only mildly concerned when it was announced it would be made into two films. It’s when Jackson announced it would become three films that I started to become apprehensive once again. Still, Jackson had earned my trust with LotR. I adopted a wait and see attitude.

Well, I’ve seen the first two parts of Jackson’s The Hobbit and I am somewhat less than thrilled. They’re not bad films per se but it’s been made very much into a prequel for Jackson’s LotR and not to the source material’s benefit.

Warning: spoilers of both the movies and the books follow.

The basic story is the same: the titular Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is dragooned into a motley crew of dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, to reclaim their kingdom. Coming along is the wizard Gandalf the Gray. Woven into the story is how Bilbo won/stole the One Ring from Gollum. This, combined with an appendix Tolkien wrote, is the story of how the Great Enemy, Sauron, regrouped at Dol Guldur as the Necromancer until he was driven out by the White Council, including Gandalf (who disappears from The Hobbit’s storyline for a while to do this).

Adding this to the film makes sense and fleshing out that part of the story is fine. I also don’t have a problem with adding Legolas to the story or a new character, Tauriel, or even her possible romance with one of the dwarves. What bothers me is padding and bloating in the storyline. There’s a protracted running, jumping, yelling, fighting scene in the underground kingdom of the Goblins that could have been right out of the Mines of Moria sequence in LotR. It goes on way too long. Richard Armitage, as dwarf leader Thorin, is simply too good looking and something of a stand-in for Aragon in LotR. There’s a battle between the dwarves and the dragon, Smaug, within the mountain kingdom that simply never happened in the book and, again, goes on way too long.

For me, this is now less J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and more Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. It’s less about picking the elements to best tell the original story than what Jackson feels like doing. Some things he gets absolutely right, such as the aforementioned scene between Bilbo and Gollum. In that he keeps very close to the scene as written by Tolkien and it works wonderfully. A later scene, between Bilbo and Smaug, does not stick as closely to Tolkien and it suffers for it.

I will undoubtedly go to the third film when it comes out and I will have all three in DVD or Blu-Ray format as they become available, including the inevitable Director’s Cut versions which may be even more bloated. I understand this is Jackson’s vision of The Hobbit but it’s a lot darker than the book was. I’m very glad these films exist at all; I just would have liked it if they had been a little more Tolkien and a little less Jackson.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

 

REVIEW: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Hobbit Unexpected Joruney ExtendedJ.R.R. Tolkien wrote a children’s book about a creature called a Hobbit and people in England seemed to like it. His publisher asked for a sequel, expecting something within a year or two, and instead it took fare longer and he received something far bigger and darker. It was worth the wait because the saga is engrossing and enduring. Thankfully, a series of events meant it wasn’t until the last decade or so before Hollywood could serve the words with fidelity. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was groundbreaking in sweep and production, an investment that could have bankrupted New Line Cinema and instead brought it untold millions in profit.

The original tale, though, took a lot longer to come to the screen and Jackson found himself back behind the director’s chair, turning collaboration with Guillermo del Toro into an encore performance. Eyes were raised when we heard this slighter tale was being turned into two films and then fans grew worried when that morphed into a trilogy.

Last December, we cautiously filed into the theater to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which appeared to be only 60% an adaptation of the novel with lots of filler. Jackson indicated all along he intended to bridge the two storylines, hence expanding to multiple films, but did it need the same sweep and grandeur as the Lord of the Rings? Probably not, but he made the creative choice to tonally link the two and as a chapter in a film series, it mostly works.

Now, mere weeks before the second installment, The Desolation of Smaug, arrives, we get to revisit chapter one, in a just-released Extended Edition from Warner Home Video. The 183-minute extended cut has more of the things you like or loathe about the films. Since diehard fans and casual audiences alike are divided between whether this version works or not, the debate continues with thirteen more minutes of evidence to work with. While the previous extended versions added plot, character and more of Howard Shore’s terrific score, this one just adds….more.

the-hobbit-bilbo-bagginsThere’s no question Martin Freeman’s casting as Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant adventurer was excellent. Paired with Ian McKellan’s Gandalf the Gray, they work well together, keeping to closer to the novel. It’s the baker’s dozen of dwarves that hew closer to the Rings trilogy and are far less defined, understandable given the size of the cast. On the other hand, with three films to work with, more should have been done beyond Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).

Instead, cameos from other players are shoe-horned in so we revisit Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman the White (Christopher Lee). What is welcome is the framing sequence to put this into perspective for the masses, wisely bringing back Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo and Elijah Wood as his cousin Frodo.

For me, it was entertaining but somewhat disappointing because I was not transported in the same way I was when I first visited Middle Earth. I was entertained but it was milder than enthralling.

The film fortunately is fit onto a single disc so you can enjoy it in a single sitting. For those who can’t get enough background material, there are two other discs chockfull of features. These are sumptuous for those who indulge and its interesting listening to Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens’ audio commentary, as they discussed the creative choices, pulling material from the Appendices to flesh out the novel.

imagesOne unconnected featurette is New Zealand: Home to Middle-Earth (6:53) which is Jackson and company extolling the virtues of their homeland.

The bulk of the extras are The Appendices Part 7: A Long Expected Journey and The Appendices Part 8: Return to Middle-Earth. The previous parts can only be found on the standard edition of the film. Part 7 takes up about four and a half hours comprising Introduction by Peter Jackson (1:54), The Journey Back to Middle-Earth (48:19); Riddles in the Dark (17:00); An Unexpected Party (25:28); Roast Mutton (17:12); Bastion of the Greenwood (10:41); A Short Rest (29:12); Over Hill (13:40); Under Hill (19:15); Out of the Frying Pan (16:07); Return to Hobbiton (18:35); The Epic of Scene 88 (8:28); The Battle of Moria (10:57); Edge of the Wilderland (22:37). Along the way we learn how the delays in financing and the near collapse of MGM led to del Toro’s departure than a hasty ramp up to get filming done to make international release schedules. We watch with exhaustive detail how scenes were shot, how cast and crew had to scurry across the island to get certain sequences completed and how Andy Serkis came back as Gollum to perform in what was essentially a one-act play set within the grander tale.

Part 8 is comprised of  The Company of Thorin (1:02:41), a six-part documentary including  “Assembling the Dwarves,” “Thorin, Fili & Kili,” “Balin & Dwalin,” “Oin & Gloin” and “Bifur, Bofur & Bombur”; Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member (16:10); Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves (57:25); The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth (58:09); Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town (58:59); and, The Songs of The Hobbit (32:32). Here, we learn more about how the cast viewed their dwarf selves and we see more character than is revealed in the final cut and the segment on the music is fascinating.

Ultimately, you have to decide if you love extras or thirteen extra minutes will be worth the investment. The film stands on its own in its first form and this is really for the devotees of Tolkien and all things Middle Earth.

Extended Edition of The Hobbit is now Available for Download

HobbitAUJEE_TurnedThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition from Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson is available NOW on iTunes in the US with the rest of the world rolling out.  A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, this new cut includes 13 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes, making this the must-see, definitive version for fans.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition  on iTunes includes exclusive early access to nearly nine hours of new special features as part of iTunes Extras*.

All-new special features on the iTunes release includes:

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth
  • THE APPENDICES PART 7 – A LONG-EXPECTED JOURNEY: The Chronicles of The Hobbit
  • THE APPENDICES PART 8 – RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH

The Appendices is a multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.

*iTunes Extras not available in all countries.

SYNOPSIS

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him; he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh.  The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), Present a WingNut Films Production, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy, also including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production.  Warner Bros. Pictures handled worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution handled by MGM.

Details Announced for The Hobbit Extended Edition

hob_seeBurbank, Calif., July 31, 2013 – Fans of Middle-earth will have the opportunity to gain a broader experience of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, from Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, when the epic fantasy adventure is released as an Extended Edition on Digital Download October 22nd and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on November 5th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE). A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, this new cut includes 13 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes, making this the must-see, definitive version for fans. All disc versions of the Extended Edition include nearly nine hours of new bonus features and will be available just ahead of the December 13 theatrical release of the second film of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition will be available as a 5-disc Blu-ray 3D set ($54.98 SRP) that features the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray versions of the Extended Edition; a 3-disc Blu-ray ($35.99) and a 5-disc DVD ($34.99) The Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD all include UltraVioletTM which allows consumers to download and instantly stream the Extended Edition in high definition to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.*

The nearly nine hours of new special features boasts audio commentary with Peter Jackson, director/producer/screenwriter, and Philippa Boyens, co-producer/screenwriter, and “The Appendices,” a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy. Complete special feature details are provided below.

The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit,The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was nominated for three Academy Awards®[i].

 

SYNOPSIS

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him; he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh.  The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

 

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), Present a WingNut Films Production, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy, also including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production.  Warner Bros. Pictures handled worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution handled by MGM.

 

ALL-NEW SPECIAL FEATURES ON BLU-RAY 3D, BLU-RAY AND DVD:

 

  • Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
  • The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
    • New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth

 

 

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Street Date: November 5, 2013

Order Due Date: October 1, 2013

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 184 mins.

Blu-ray 3D: $54.98 SRP

Blu-ray: $35.99 SRP

DVD: $34.99 SRP

REVIEW: The Hobbit

HBBT_BDComboJ.R.R. Tolkien was fascinated with language and mythology, scratching only the surface when he sat down in 1937 to pen The Hobbit. When his publisher asked for a sequel, the professor really dug deep and built on the foundations established in his children’s novel. As a result, he took over a decade to write what became Lord of the Rings and along the way, crafted new languages, cultures, and myths, creating Middle Earth from the essence of English and European folklore.

Tolkien mistrusted Hollywood, which certainly explains why it wasn’t until the 1970s before any adaptation of his works made it to the screen. There’s the somewhat cute Rankin-Bass take from the era, but really, the studios and technology weren’t up to the demands of the source material. Within the last two decades, though, that all changed. Once Peter Jackson struck gold with his trilogy of films, it was inevitable that the public would cry for the first book in the cycle to be adapted. Of course, there were the usual legal entanglements followed by MGM’s financial free-fall which cost the production the talents of Guillermo Del Toro. Jackson stepped behind the camera once more, helming an adaptation that was more in keeping with his interpretation of Middle Earth than del Toro apparently had in mind. Now, having seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the theater and on disc, the fresh eye may have been warranted.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the film —  being released on home video in a variety of packages from Warner Home Video on Tuesday – but the familiarity with it all robs the story of its magic. Wisely, the opening is a frame, setting up the novel itself; using Ian Holm’s aged Bilbo Baggins with Elijah Wood once more as his nephew Frodo. Seeing them brought a smile to my heart but once the dwarves began to arrive, and the journey get underway, we’d seen the vistas, the mountains, and roads. As a result, the journey felt beleaguered and longer than necessary.

What did work, though, was really making this Thorin Oakenshield’s (Richard Armitage) story, aided by the dwarves and guided by Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellan). The tension and suspicions the handsome dwarf had towards Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a nice undercurrent until it reaches a climax.

In watching the story unfold, it’s very much like a saga from days gone by and it’s interesting to note how many of the dwarf names were taken straight from Norse mythology. It’s a pretty straightforward tale with nice sets pieces such as the meeting with Gollum (Andy Serkis) and the forthcoming battles with Smaug. Expanding this initially to two films raised some eyebrows and then he came out with word that two had morphed into three. Suddenly, the single novel was being given the same weight at the trilogy and most howled. In watching the movie, it’s safe to say about 60 percent of it was the novel and the remainder was drawn from the appendices and notes Tolkien left behind. To be fair to the producer/writer/director, there’s tremendous material worthy of adapting and exploring cinematically. It worked with the emphasis on Arwen in the trilogy so he earns the benefit of the doubt for now.

Hobbit_Infographic_Hobbit101He did take a throwaway line about Gandalf needing to speak with others and the book skipped that while the film uses that moment to being us to a council where familiar friends Galadriel (Cate Blanchet), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Saruman the White (Christopher Lee) provide wisdom and foreshadowing. It was fun seeing them as all one big happy family, knowing that even sixty years before LOTR, the dark shadows were already creeping from Mordor.

We also get to see some other wizards for the first time, including Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the stronghold of Dul Guldur and the amusing Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy).

Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson used some magic to find ways to give each of the thirteen dwarves some personality and the cast and costumers ran with it. While you couldn’t necessarily name them on sight, you could tell one from another. Character reigns supreme once more for which we fans should be thankful. As fanciful as Tolkien was, he remained far more interested in lore and language than he did in interesting characterization.

Jackson is an old hand at the setting and pacing, which may be why he was more interested in the technical aspects, notably the 48-frames-per-second experiment that too few people got to witness as theaters, already paying the bills for 3-D and digital projectors, were reluctant to support. The film, therefore, is lush and rich in color, sight, and sound.

An extended edition with extra footage, which was anticipated before the film hit theaters, is now expected in time for the holiday season, following the previous pattern. So, be cautioned when getting this. So, what do you get with this edition? Well, the video transfer is most excellent, rich in color so Hobbiton to Lothlorien to the mines are sharp and clear. The visuals are equally matched by the amazing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track.

While there some two and a half hours of bonus material, diehard fans have seen most of it online during the film’s production and release. Clearly, the most interesting stuff is being held back for the extended version. The specials are voluminous to merit its own disc, which is nice.

Early purchasers can use The Desolation of Smaug Sneak Peek Access Code: to watch the exclusive online sneak peek at The Desolation of Smaug, hosted live by Peter Jackson on March 24th at 3pm EST/12pm PST.

There’s another look at New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth (7 minutes) demonstrating the challenge facing Jackson and his team as they had to find new countryside to show off new portions of Middle Earth.

The bulk of the extras are the ten Video Blogs (127 minutes):

Start of Production (April 14, 2011)

Location Scouting (July 9, 2011)

Shooting Block One (July 21, 2011)

Filming in 3D (November 4, 2011)

Locations Part I (December 24, 2011)

Locations Part II (March 2, 2012)

Stone St. Studios Tour (June 6, 2012)

Wrap of Principal Photography (July 24, 2012)

Post-Production Overview (November 24, 2012)

Wellington World Premiere (December 14, 2012)

And, of course, a handful of trailers.

Scaling Hobbits, Dwarves and Elves

Hobbit_Infographic-UniqueFeaturesWarner Home Video has provided us with a nifty infographic in advance of next week’s release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Here are the official details.

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The second film will be The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Both films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

Extras Include

New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth

Video Blogs

  • Start of Production
  • Location Scouting
  • Shooting Block One
  • Filming in 3D
  • Locations Part 1
  • Locations Part 2
  • Stone St. Studios Tour
  • Wrap of Principal Photography
  • Post-production Overview
  • Wellington World Premiere

Theatrical Trailers

  • Dwarves
  • Letter Opener
  • Bilbo Contract
  • Gandalf Wagers
  • Gollum Paths

Game Trailer

  • The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth
  • Guardians of Middle-Earth
  • Lego The Lord of the Rings

Feature Comments: UltraViolet lets you build a digital collection so you can instantly stream and download your movies to compatible devices, including computers, tablets, smartphones, game consoles and IP-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. This UltraViolet copy is a standard definition digital copy of the main feature. UltraViolet service providers may charge for continued cloud access, but no additional charge for continued access to content once downloaded. Consumer must reside in the U.S. and register for a retailer account and an UltraViolet account. Must be 18 years or older to create UltraViolet account.

Warner Home Video to Release The Hobbit on Disc in March

HBBT_BDComboBurbank, CA, February 5, 2013 – From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), arriving on Digital Download on March 12  and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-Disc DVD Special Edition on March 19  from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. All disc versions feature UltraVioletÔ and more than 130 minutes of bonus content. The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is nominated for three Academy Awards*, is an epic adventure that immerses audiences once again in the fantastical world of Middle-earth. The March 19 home entertainment release will be followed by an Extended Edition available just in time for the holidays.

In addition, Peter Jackson will host a live first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy, on Sunday, March 24 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Pacific. Content will be streamed live and an edited version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website. Access to the live event will be limited to holders of an UltraViolet code available by purchasing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. Select digital retailers will issue access codes upon purchase of the film.  Visit www.thehobbit.com/sneak for more information.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Also reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” in “The Hobbit” Trilogy are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as Old Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The international ensemble cast also includes James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Adam Brown, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Manu Bennett and Conan Stevens.

The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a WingNut Films Production, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy, also including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012, with the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug releasing December 13, 2013, and the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, slated for July 18, 2014.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be available on 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99, on 5-Disc Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack for $44.95, and on 2-Disc DVD Special Edition for $28.98. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features the theatrical version of the film in hi-definition on Blu-ray, and the theatrical version in standard definition on DVD. The 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack features the theatrical version of the film in 3D hi-definition on Blu-ray, the theatrical version of the film in 2D high definition on Blu-ray and the theatrical version in standard definition on DVD.  The Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and the 2-Disc DVD Special Edition all include UltraViolet, which allows consumers to download and instantly stream the standard definition theatrical version of the film to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.*

SYNOPSIS

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:

  • Full Suite of Peter Jackson’s Production Videos. Enter Middle-earth of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Academy Award-winning Director Peter Jackson takes you behind the scenes, on location and amidst the star-studded cast in a series of video journals that puts you in the forefront of latest in filmmaking with more than two hours of additional content. Highlights of the journals include:
    • Start of Production
    • Location Scouting
    • Filming in 3D
    • Post-production Overview
    • Wellington World Premiere

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On March 12, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be available for download from online retailers including iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon, Vudu and CinemaNow.

On March 19, the film will also available digitally in High Definition (HD) VOD and Standard Definition (SD) VOD from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                            SRP

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack                                                         $44.95

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                               $35.99

2-Disc Amaray Special Edition (WS)                                     $28.98

EST Release Date:  March 12, 2013

Standard Street Date: March 19, 2013

DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Parisian French

BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish,

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French

BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish

Running Time: 169 minutes

Rating: Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images

DLBY/SURR   DLBY/DGTL   [CC]

Emily S. Whitten: The Hobbit – There Again, But Not Back Just Yet…

I’m sure it will shock no one to learn that I went to see the midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last Thursday. And despite being a tad bit (okay a lot bit) tired at work the next day, it was great fun. I don’t do that many midnight showings (seeing as how many of them land on weekdays) but when I do, I definitely experience that extra little thrill of being amongst the first to see something new, and of sitting in a movie theater with a bunch of friends in the wee small hours when by all rights, we should all be in bed.

Along with the general excitement of it all, I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Hobbit movie for seemingly forever now, ever since it was first announced (and even after they announced that it would now be three movies (!!)). I first read the novel in fourth grade English, where it was one of our assigned reading books. Looking back, I’m pretty impressed that our teacher managed to inject it into the curriculum. At the time, I vaguely recall having the feeling, in that childhood my-spider-sense-is-tingling way of feeling adult tension in the air, that this was some sort of tiny act of rebellion on her part against the mostly very sensible curriculum of books we were reading (many of which were also great, although whoever decided to include Dear Mr. Henshaw will not be getting my thanks anytime soon. Yawn). But my English teacher, bless her, decided that reading a fantasy adventure story, and a probably challenging one for that age group, was an important part of our childhood development; and so it was.

Many moons later, the story – in which the hobbit Bilbo Baggins joins the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves in a quest to reclaim the dwarves’ homeland – is just as fun and full of adventure as it was then; but how does it translate to the big screen? Lucky for us, Peter Jackson has endeavored to find out. Jackson is, if you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, the mastermind behind The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, one of the most amazing and epic motion picture trilogies of all time (as well as the highest grossing worldwide). That trilogy, especially in the extended edition, is both a spectacular adaptation of Tolkien’s story, and a moving and cohesive collection in its own right. It’s also a serious and dark story, and despite the warmth and occasional humor of the character interactions, pretty intense from start to finish. The Hobbit is a slightly different kettle of fish.

Tolkien wrote The Hobbit first, and as more of a children’s story; whereas by the time he penned The Lord of the Rings, he had developed both his world and his style into something more epic and cohesive than his original idea (and, in fact, as he wrote LoTR he went back and added bits to The Hobbit that tied the two together more closely). The story does get darker as it progresses (about when the dwarves arrive in Laketown), but overall, it is still lighter, and smaller in scope, than the trilogy.

(Warning: Possible Movie Spoilers Ahead, although it’s not like most of you don’t know the story already.)

The movie follows the book in that sense. While there is plenty of action and danger, I found myself smiling or laughing a surprising number of times throughout the first act of The Hobbit (i.e. An Unexpected Journey, which is all we shall see of the story until December of next year, when part two of three comes out). In part, that’s thanks to Martin Freeman, who has wonderful comic timing and does an excellent job as the younger Bilbo, who is by times amusingly befuddled or subtly, wryly humorous. There is also a fair bit of humor in some of the dwarf characters and in Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, who is a slightly more whimsical and mischievous wizard than the one we see in Lord of the Rings.

Some of the humor, however, comes from very enjoyable scenes that would not fit snugly in Lord of the Rings but seem perfectly at home here – scenes such as the dwarves “cleaning up” after their party at Bilbo’s house, haphazardly flinging and bouncing Bilbo’s mother’s best china hither and yon throughout the hobbit-hole while Bilbo looks on in distracted despair before walking into the next room and discovering it’s all now neatly stacked away. This scene also gives viewers an important sense of the personality imbued by the dwarves of The Hobbit, which is pretty helpful considering it’s a bit hard to remember which dwarf is which: thirteen is a fair number of small bearded main characters to keep track of.

Another humorous scene I still remember as one of my favorites from my first childhood reading is the one in which Bilbo endeavors to trick a trio of mountain trolls out of eating the whole company; and a fair bit of time and humor is devoted to that scene in the movie, much to my delight. These scenes work wonderfully within the whole. And yet, as my friends and I left the theater, a few of them complained that in places the movie is a bit hokey… and I didn’t disagree. From the best fun scenes, through the more obvious gags that are still funny (such as Bilbo insisting the whole company must go all the way back to Bag End because he forgot his handkerchief, and then one of the dwarves helpfully flinging him a dirty old piece of cloth to use instead), the movie does arrive at a few scenes that are wince-worthy.

The most notable of these is the one with Goblin King. He is fascinatingly grotesque in appearance, and his appearance comes at a dire time for the dwarves, who have been captured and are being held deep underground by what seems like thousands of goblins. The Goblin King is threatening to (and then does) alert the Dwarf King Thorin’s mightiest living enemy, the orc leader Azog, who is on the hunt for Thorin, that the goblins now have him. Logically, it should be a serious moment in the movie. And yet the Goblin King’s demeanor is comical (and not in a good way) and his threats, issued with laughter, are anticlimactically not very menacing at all. (Threats issued with laughter can be super menacing. A good evil laugh can actually make threats more menacing. In the case of the Goblin King, this…is not the case.) Even the bit where he tells another goblin to send word to Azog is off-kilter, with the secretary goblin being a weirdly stunted specimen who apparently gets around the goblin caverns on a zip-line.

This scene and a very few others in the movie are jarring; however, as a whole, the movie is thoroughly enjoyable. Despite the weirdness of the Goblin King, almost without exception the rest of the characters (and actors) are wonderful; and the visuals are just as stunning as those in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And there are some fantastic scenes as well. These include the delightful opening of the movie, which ties The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings by having the elderly Bilbo, in the midst of preparations for his 111th birthday party, writing the narrative and chatting with Frodo (hooray, Elijah Wood cameo!). They also include the scene in which Bilbo and Gollum are having a contest of riddles, all alone in the darkest tunnels of the goblin realm, which was one of the darkest and most ominous scenes, and wouldn’t have been out of place with the tone of The Lord of the Rings.

Overall, despite the dwarves’ very serious quest, this movie feels less serious of purpose than The Lord of the Rings; but that is something I attribute to the original book, rather than the movie’s production. Just as Jackson tried to be faithful to the tone and sense of the trilogy, here he has been faithful to the source material, and I think remembering that as you go in to see the movie (or in thinking of it afterwards) contributes to the enjoyment of it. Going in with the expectation of seeing another Lord of the Rings might leave you feeling surprised, as I was, at the differing tone of this movie; but going in with the mindset that this is an adventure, a romp, and a fun journey will leave you feeling satisfied with the end result. And, of course, it’s important to remember that this is only part one. I suspect that through the second movie and by the end of part three, the tone will shift, as the book’s did, until it arrives in the territory of Lord of the Rings and leaves us with a fairly consistent six movie collection. I personally can’t wait to see what comes next.

Until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

 

The Point Radio: How Bilbo Almost Wasn’t THE HOBBIT

There is no doubt, THE HOBBIT will be doing big box office this weekend, but did you know there was a point where Martin Freeman may not have returned as Bilbo Baggins? Director Peter Jackson shares the story plus answers the question on why two more HOBBIT films are on the way. And Image confuses retailers with  a new “no reprint” policy.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.