Tagged: The Hobbit

Tweeks: May 2016 Loot Crate & LVL UP “POWER” Unboxing

May’s Loot Crate theme is POWER! And so we power up this month’s unboxing with not one, but two Loot Crate openings. We open both the Loot Crate and the Level Up boxes (well, actually Level Up comes in a bag, but still!) and then battle it out with a lemon fight to see who gets the most coveted goods.

And because it is a total power move to share, we’re giving away some of the items from both this months’ Loot Crate & Level Up!

So, watch for free stuff or to hear Anya’s rant on Ender’s Game or Maddy’s feelings about robots or just to see what’s inside.


Tweeks: Christmas at the Movies with the Family

Night-At-The-Museum-3-2014Merry Christmas ComicMixers! After the presents have all been opened, dinners been eaten, and we’ve set the TiVo to record Doctor Who, we like to wrap up our Tweeks Christmas with a trip to the movies with our family. Sadly (and, well, we think weirdly) there are very few family friendly movies out in the theatres this holiday season (unless you’ve been under a rock & haven’t seen Big Hero 6 and Penguins of Madagascar — which in that case, go watch our reviews & go see those pronto!) In this week’s episode, we break down the family-friendly films you can see over Winter Break: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Annie,  and Into The Woods.

John Ostrander: A Fair-to-Middling Earth

ostrander-art-140126-150x113-4909151Different 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




Dennis O’Neil: The Mustache and the Movies

O'Neil Art 131121I’ve gone into hundreds, maybe thousands of theaters, but entering the Regal Cinema last week was a bit unique. This Regal had only been in business a few days – to all intents and purposes it was brand new – and so everything about it was clean and pleasant and orderly, the rugs unspotted, the air untainted, the seats deep and sumptuously padded. And I think I felt a slight tingle of anticipation as I crossed the lobby.

I wonder if I felt a similar tingle the first time someone, almost certainly my mother, took me to the picture show. I would have been just past toddlerhood and so my world would have still be surprising and numinous and I’d be into a strange place, my hand in another, familiar hand, stepping into a semidarkness full of strangers, looking up at a big white thing that suddenly brightened and was full of motion and I was in the presence of something new and wonderful. Remember – this was in the early 1940s. In that era, a boy barely past infancy would never have seen even a television, nor would anyone else he knew because the video invasion was not happening until after the war, so pictures that moved? And talked? Magic!

What did I see? Maybe a newsreel – they still showed newsreels, back then – and maybe a Three Stooges or a Pete Smith Specialty. And a cartoon? Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny or Mighty Mouse or Donald Duck? (If it was a Donald Duck, I would have also seen, the first of many such sightings, the name “Walt Disney,” though, of course, the letters would have been only incomprehensible shapes, reading being as yet an unsolved mystery.) Then, the feature, probably a double feature, long pictures about… cowboys? Or people who did funny things, like the Three Stooges? Or both? Might have been both! Why not both?

Marvel superheroes didn’t yet exist when I toddled into the land of cinema, though they sure as shooting exist now and it was a Marvel movie that I saw last week at the Regal: Thor: The Dark World. Enjoyed it, the wife and I, and since I never worked on the Thor character during my employment at Mighty Marvel, I brought no particular baggage to the event. I left my (sumptuously padded) seat thinking that Thor was Marvel’s answer to the Tolkein adaptations – those Hobbits and their quest and their adventures – and that the filmmakers were doing something some science fiction writers were doing about about 50 years ago, conflating mythology with sf, and doing it pretty well, too. And they’re doing it under the aegis of the company started by Donald Duck’s boss.

I saw Walt himself when he appeared on the Disneyland television show in 1954, when I would have been about 15 and, well… something about him bothered me, just a tiny bit. What? Could it be his mustache? It was like the lip hair sported by a recent presidential candidate, Thomas Dewey, who my parents didn’t vote for, possibly because he was a Republican and his opponent, Harry S. Truman, came from our home state of Missouri. Something else, though? Hey… the bad guys in the cowboy movies – not the bad guys out on the trail who got shot or punched by the good guys, but the sneaky bad guys who lurked in back rooms and schemed – they often had those kinds of mustaches.

And all those years past, sitting in the darkness next to a parent – did I see a mustached bad guy on the screen and is that why I didn’t instantly like Walt Disney? You tell me.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


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 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.


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.

John Ostrander: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

OStrander Art 130728There are certain films I’ve discovered just by channel surfing; likewise, there are films that I know and when I come across them (again, channel surfing), I may stay to watch a given scene and then find myself watching the film through to the end. Most of the OT Star Wars movies are like that; so is Casablanca. This morning my Mary and I came across another, Miss Pettgrew Lives For A Day.  I found it first on TV, bought a copy, and today watched the movie through to the end anyway.

The 2008 film stars Amy Adams, Frances McDormand, Ciaran Hinds, Lee Pace, Mark Strong and Shirley Henderson, among others, and it was directed by Bharat Nalluri with a screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy adapting the 1937 novel by Winifred Watson.

I suspect you’ll already know Amy Adams’ and Frances McDormand’s work. Bharat Nalluri may be more known to ComicMix readers as the man who directed episodes of MI-5 and Torchwood: Miracle Day. Writer David Magee wrote Finding Neverland (another film I love) and Life of Pi. Simon Beaufoy won an Academy Award for Slumdog Millionaire and has also scripted the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as well as The Full Monty.

Ciaran Hinds has a mixture of films to his credit. He played Dumbledore’s brother in the final Harry Potter film, was also in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as well as John Carter and Game of Thrones. I thought he was very hammy in Political Animals, the Sigourney Weaver TV miniseries but he’s wonderful and understated in Miss Pettigrew.

Mark Strong was in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and John Carter as well and also played Sinestro in the Green Lantern film as well as Lord Blackwood in the Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey Jr. Lee Pace is in all three Hobbit movies and will be playing Ronan the Accuser in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film.

Why do I tell you all this? To drive home that Miss Pettigrew has a really good pedigree and it lives up to it.

The story is gossamer light for all that it’s set in London in 1938 on the eve of World War II. That gives the film an underlying shadow; we know what’s waiting in the wings. So do some of the characters and it adds a poignancy to the story.

The story? Imdb does a nice job of summarizing the story so I’ll quote it: “War threatens London as Miss Pettigrew, a destitute governess, filches a client’s card from her agency and presents herself at the door. A singer named Delysia Lafosse wants a social secretary as she seeks a West End role by sleeping with a feckless producer in the bed of Nick, a smarmy nightclub owner with whom she also dallies. She ignores Michael, her piano player, who loves her and has tickets for New York on the Queen Mary. Miss Pettigrew’s job is to make sure Delysia gets the part. Over 24 hours, Miss Pettigrew is also called upon to help an ambitious and unfaithful fashion editor patch things up with her older fiancé, a lingerie designer. Has Miss Pettigrew found her calling?”

Amy Adams is Delysia and she’s perfection. She has superb comedic timing and shows real heart in a character that could otherwise be described as flighty and manipulative. The character is a fake but there are reasons why and a past that comes up at key moments. There’s an innocence to her. And it’s a brave performance. At the emotional climax, when she sings “If I Didn’t Care”, there are notes where Amy Adams shows us that Delysia is a good singer but not a great one. She’s not as good a singer as Amy Adams proved in Enchanted. You can hear that song on YouTube.

Listen to how the real character breaks through as she sings the song and discovers where her heart truly lies.

Frances McDomand’s performance as Miss Pettigrew is a lesson in underacting. The character starts very cold and distant, with a very set idea of what is right, and it all gets turned upside down as she encounters Delysia. Her heart, her warmth, opens up as she deals and helps the chaos that is the younger woman.

All the actors are wonderful and the movie itself could have been made in the 30s – all the period details seem so right. It’s a beautiful film to look at and the costumes and the cars and the sets all establish a reality – one that you know is soon to vanish. I never escape the underlying threat of war that runs through the film.

Just wanted to share a film that has become one of my favorites. Will you like it? Beats me. But if you’re a tad tired of superheroes right now and explosions and all that, you might want to give it a try.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING (and so on): Emily S. Whitten


Emily S. Whitten: Conventions Ahoy! NADWCon and SDCC

Emily S. Whitten: Conventions Ahoy! NADWCon and SDCC

Guess what, ComicMix readers? Convention season is upon us! Hurrah!

“Aw, shucks,” you say. “I can’t make it to any conventions.”

Fear not, faithful friends! I am here to save the day by attending and reporting back for you. And I am psyched about it. Yes, I’ll probably need to hibernate my con exhaustion away afterwards, but man, I love the energy and excitement of a good con. And good thing, too, because this year, I’m planning to attend The North American Discworld Convention; San Diego Comic Con; Dragon*Con; Baltimore Comic Con; the Small Press Expo; New York Comic Con; and Capclave. Whew!

NADWCon and SDCC are right around the corner, so I’m extra excited about those! Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

The North American Discworld Convention

The NADWCon is taking place in Baltimore, MD from July 5th to 8th, and memberships are still available! I highly recommend this con for any Terry Pratchett enthusiast. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I’m a huge Discworld fan. You may or may not also know that I actually co-founded the NADWCon, and served as Vice Chair, Webmaster, Programming Coordinator, and Guest Liaison for the 2009 NADWCon, and as Chair and co-Guest Liaison Coordinator for the 2011 NADWCon. Good times!

This year, though, I’m super excited to be going to NADWCon as just a fan. I’ll get to go to all of the panels I never saw while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off organizing things! I’ll get to sit down for more than five minutes with my Discworld friends! I’ll possibly make it to breakfast at least once! Woo!

I’ll also, all things permitting, be continuing what is by now the tradition of interviewing some Discworld luminaries at the con. I first interviewed author Terry Pratchett himself at the UK Discworld Con for two whole hours in 2008, and what a treat that was! I interviewed Terry again, along with agent Colin Smythe, artist Bernard Pearson, and audiobook reader Stephen Briggs in 2010 (Scroll down if you’d like to hear those interviews here). The nice thing about interviews with Terry or about Terry, though, is that he’s so prolific and interesting that there’s always new ground to cover; so I’m really looking forward to catching up with the Discworld crowd!

In other exciting things, the Program Guide for the con is now up, and it looks fantastic. On Friday I might chat with Ian Mitchell and Reb Voyce, make my own Octavo or coat of arms, or watch the new Sir Terry documentary about orangutans! On Saturday I’ll actually be speaking at a panel about costuming, but I might also try my hand at scriptwriting, learn how to commit the perfect murder (oh, Pat, what would we do without you?), or revisit my fencing days with a lesson in swordplay. Sunday I am most certainly attending the Gala Banquet, but might also learn the trade tricks of the Guild of Thieves! And on Monday, if I am not exhausted yet, I may watch what I am betting will be the craziest puppet show ever (and will, among other things, feature the Neil Gaiman puppet that took the stage at Neil’s DC signing on June 21). Seriously, this con is going to be so much fun! And less than two weeks after it, I will be going to…

San Diego Comic Con

This will be my first time at SDCC, and I am preemptively preparing to be totally overwhelmed. However, I’m also overjoyed, because so many of my awesome friends will be there, and there will be mega-tons of amazing events happening all the time. Here are some things I’m especially looking forward to:

1) The preview and Q&A panel for I Know That Voice, a documentary all about voice actors that’s coming out this fall. As readers may have noticed, I find voice acting pretty darned fascinating, so I can’t wait to see this film, which features over a hundred of the best voice actors in the business discussing their craft. In fact, I’ve already signed up for the VIP email list on the IKTV website; and you can too, if you want to get VIP-only updates about the film, reserve a spot to pre-order the DVD for purchase before the general public, and be entered in a poster contest where every 100th entry wins a poster signed by voice actor John DiMaggio. Pretty cool!

FYI, the IKTV team is also running a Cartoon Voice Imitation Contest via their Facebook page, encouraging anyone who does impressions of favorite television cartoon voices to post a short video of their impression(s) (1 minute or less) to the page by July 31, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. PST. John DiMaggio and the IKTV team will review each post and on August 5 will pick the top three, who will win an autographed poster signed by some of the star cast members and an I Know That Voice DVD autographed by John DiMaggio. What a great way to be heard by the folks in Hollywood! I’d enter myself, if I did any impressions!

I’ll definitely be checking out the IKTV SDCC panel. Here’s the panel information:

“John DiMaggio (Executive Producer of IKTV, also voices Bender from Futurama, Jake The Dog from Adventure Time, IFC’s Out There and many more!) brings the cast and crew of IKTV together for an exclusive sneak peak at the most anticipated film about voice over (in animation and video games) ever made! Included in the panel will be John DiMaggio, Billy West (Futurama, Ren and Stimpy), Rob Paulsen (TMNT, Pinky and the Brain), Dee Bradley Baker (Clone Wars, Ben 10, American Dad), Fred Tatasciore (Hulk, Ben 10, Mad), Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants, Brickleberry), Andrea Romano (25-time Emmy nominated, 8-time Emmy winner for Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and more!), Tommy Reid (producer, IKTV), and Lawrence Shapiro (director, IKTV). You won’t want to miss this panel, especially with this bunch! You never know what’s going to come out of their mouths! July 18, 4:45-5:45 p.m. (Room 6BCF)”

I’ll also be interviewing John DiMaggio and Tommy Reid while I’m there, and maybe a few other amazing voice actors (like Rob Paulsen!) so stay tuned for that! And while we’re here, don’t forget Rob Paulsen is coming to The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on August 1. Get your tickets now!

2) Hannibal, Hannibal, Hannibal. Yes, folks, the cast and crew of the show about Hannibal the cannibal are going to be at SDCC, and I am hungry to hear from them (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The panel, entitled “Hannibal: Feed Your Fear,” will feature Emmy-Award-winning executive producer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies), director David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Martha De Laurentiis (Red Dragon), and star Hugh Dancy (playing Agent Will Graham). It’s listed for Thursday, July 18th from 6:45pm – 7:45 p.m. in Room 6A.

As with many things, I (affectionately) blame my friend Cleolinda for getting me into Hannibal with her excellent recaps and discussions. But the show has done a great job of keeping me fascinated all on its own. I can’t wait for the panel, and am hoping to get a few minutes with the panelists, as well!

3) Psych! Oh, man, I just love this show. Somehow it’s cleverly managed to walk the line between heartfelt and meaningful and hilarious and totally goofy for seven seasons, and there’s another one to come! The Psych panel is set for July 18 and will be moderated by Cary Elwes, and include James Roday, Dulé Hill, Corbin Bernsen, Maggie Lawson and Timothy Omundson, along with Kirsten Nelson. Also joining the panel are creator and executive producer Steve Franks, and executive producers Chris Henze and Kelly Kulchak. I’m so there! I’ve also already got my ticket to the advance screening of Psych: The Musical (airing this winter), and you can get one too, at the link. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be time to check in with the cast of the show as well!

4) So many other cool panels! Who knows what I’ll be able to fit in, but I’ve got my sights set on covering at least some of the events for author Neil Gaiman’s new Sandman work; ongoing TV shows Arrow, Bones, Futurama, Supernatural, Agents of SHIELD, Once Upon A Time, Dexter, The Legend of Korra, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; new shows Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, and The Tomorrow People; and upcoming movies Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The World’s End, and (maybe) some Marvel movies. I’m also planning to cover The Black Panel and the Body Image & Women in Entertainment panel if I can (I’m ambitious!). And maybe more, since new events are being announced all the time. This site seems to be keeping up with them pretty well, and of course there’s the Unofficial SDCC Blog, which has tons of information.

5) A Gathering of Nerds! Although it’s not part of SDCC proper, I’m hoping to stop by at least one Nerd HQ event and see what they’re all about. Chuck actor Zachary Levi’s pet project raised $140,000 for Operation Smile last year with its Conversations for a Cause, and featured a slew of cool events and guests while doing it. I haven’t even attended yet and I’m already a fan – I like the mix of philanthropy with fun!

6) Exclusives! Oh so many exclusives! I’m going to try not to go tooooo crazy, but I must admit I’ve already pre-ordered the Marvel Minimates Deadpools Assemble set; of course I want the Deadpool Kills variant cover and the glow-in-the-dark Deadpool bobble-head; and I will elbow people out of the way with all of my elbowin’ strength for the Deadpool Corps set. I also think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 variant cover by Steve Conley is adorable, not to mention it comes from my friends at Awesome Conventions! And speaking of cute, I so want Batgirl from DC’s Super Best Friends Forever. I also have to admit the Game of Thrones throw pillow and poster set are pretty nifty.

7) And let us never forget the parties! I’m hearing about new ones every day, and who knows where I’ll end up, but at the very least I plan to be visiting with our very own ComicMix crowd at the Michael Davis World After-the-Eisner’s-Party – and what could be better than that?

So stay tuned in the next few weeks, when I’ll be sharing all of my convention adventures. And speaking of conventions, if you’re a D.C. local (or even if you’re not) please consider supporting the Awesome Con DC 2014 Kickstarter, which has just 4 days left to meet its goal (and through which you can get that cute TMNT variant cover I mentioned as a reward!). The Kickstarter needs less than $8,000 more in donations to succeed, and to allow the con organizers to make next year’s Awesome Con DC bigger and better than ever. This year’s con was awesome (heh), and I’d love to see them get funded.

Thanks; and until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis, Hell, and High Water



John Ostrander: Backwards or Forwards?

Ostrander Art 130324Bought and watched The Hobbit DVD when it came out. My Mary and I had watched the full IMAX version in the theater; it’s one of her favorite books. I’m pretty fond of it as well.

Enjoyed the movie again and look forward to the next installment. However, I had problems with it. Both the way that the story is being divided into three films and from some of the action sequences, it’s playing out as a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings films. The book The Hobbit is not a prequel; it’s a stand alone story that has some story elements in common with LOTR. In the film, however, it’s coming off very definitely as a prequel to the point, IMO, that the story is changed or even twisted a bit to make it fit that mold. Visuals such as the race through the Underground Kingdom of the Goblins was very reminiscent, visually, of the race through the Mines of Moria in LOTR. What was stunning and even surprising in the LOTR movies looks rehashed here.

Generally speaking, when I’m reading or watching a story, I want to know what happens next – if I want to know anything more at all. Some stories, like Casablanca, doesn’t need prequels or sequels (although a sequel was discussed early on for Casablanca and, fortunately, never worked out). With Star Wars, after the original trilogy was done, I was ready to see what happened next but George Lucas decided he wanted to tell what happened previously. I watched but it’s not what I wanted and a lot of the public was less than enthralled as well. It’s only now when Disney has assumed ownership of the whole shebang that Episode 7 – “and then what happened?” — is being prepared.

The prequel trilogy of Star Wars changes the thrust of the story. The original trilogy is about Luke Skywalker and his coming of age, learning who he is, and becoming the hero his father might have been. The prequel trilogy changes the arc of all six films; it becomes about Anakin Solo, his fall and his redemption. I liked it better when it was Luke’s story.

I don’t absolutely hate prequels; I’ve done them myself. The last two GrimJack arcs I’ve done have technically been prequels. I also did a four issue story on The Demon Wars in GJ and, in the back-up space, my late wife Kim Yale and I did a story of young John Gaunt which would also qualify as a prequel. In each case, however, it revealed aspects of Gaunt that helped in understanding who he was and which weren’t going to be told in any other way. Each was also a stand-alone story; you needn’t have read any other GJ story to understand these stories.

There can be problems with sequels as well. Does it add to the story or does it just water it down? Godfather II deepened and expanded on the first film; Godfather III – not so much. The original Rocky is a great film; none of the sequels improved on it and only tarnished the story. OTOH, Toy Story 2 was better than the first film and Toy Story 3 was better still.

I can understand the desire with the studios to go back to the same material; it has a proven track record. There’s more money to be made not only from the movie but from all the ancillary crap. Less risk (in theory) and more money (in theory).

Maybe what it comes down to is this for sequels and prequels – does this story need to be told? When you think about it, that’s the same criteria as every other story, isn’t it? Or should be. Is this story worth telling? Not – will this make more money? Sadly, the reason for too many sequels and prequels is the monetary one.





Peter Jackson Sneaks The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on March 24

peter_jacksonAcademy Award®-winning filmmaker 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/12pm Pacific at www.hobbit.com/sneak.    The live event will now include a Q&A with Jackson and fans! Video questions can be submitted beginning March 12 through March 19 on “The Hobbit” Facebook page, or through the Vine mobile app using the hashtag #askPeterJackson. Fans can also Tweet links to video questions using the hashtag #askPeterJackson.  The live event will be limited to holders of an UltraViolet™ code, available by purchasing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-disc DVD Special Edition on March 19.  Visit thehobbit.com/sneak for more information.



Some familiar names popped up on the Earth Station One Podcast this week.

The ESO crew goes on a journey we’ve been expecting for nine long years! Mike Faber and Michael Gordon, along with fellow ESO podcasters JD (The Delta Quadrant – A Star Trek Voyager Podcast) and Van Allen Plexico (The White Rocket Podcast) review the first chapter of The Hobbit trilogy. Plus, Bobby Nash is on hand to help author Jana Oliver face The Geek Seat. All this and the usual Rants, Raves, Khan Report, and Shout Outs!

You can listen to Earth Station One Episode 142 now at www.esopodcast.com.
Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/earth-station-one-episode-142-playing-riddles-in-the-dark-we-review-the-first-hobbit-film/

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