Director Peter Jackson brings us back to Middle-earth in the first part of his trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is a prequel to his Lord of the Rings movies. Though Jackson is meticulous in adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel, the movie feels overlong and overstuffed. Still, The Hobbit has new things to show us from Tolkien's world, and this time we go along on an adventure with a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the titular hobbit who has been recruited by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to join a team of dwarves in their quest to take back their home from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo is hesitant to leave the comfort of his beloved Shire, but once he gets the adventure bug, he's off — as are we, on a journey that's unfortunately slow, but not without its highlights.
Lord of the Rings fans will no doubt come to see The Hobbit for more of Peter Jackson's able handling of Tolkien's world. However, that comparison ultimately hurts An Unexpected Journey, because it's simply not as captivating as the installments in the original trilogy. There are unnecessary subplots, expository conversations drag on, and few of the action scenes achieve nail-biter status. To find out what else I thought, just keep reading.
Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen celebrated the royal premiere of their new film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in London today. Cate and Ian were joined by costar Martin Freeman and Lord of the Rings' Dominic Monaghan. Although this Hobbit film, the first of three, is being released after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it is actually based on the novel that inspired the original Lord of the Rings book series. They weren't at the London premiere, but LOTR's Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood attended last week's NYC screening of The Hobbit.
Prince William also attended the premiere but without his pregnant wife, Kate Middleton. Unfortunately, Kate had to cancel her planned appearance earlier this week due to her continued battle with acute morning sickness.
Thousands of fans came out in New Zealand today to celebrate the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Cate Blanchett was one of the stars that hit the red carpet, signing autographs and posing for photos on her way into the screening. Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lilly, and director Peter Jackson, who brought his daughter, also showed their support for the big event. Evangeline debuted a dramatic new look on the arm of costar James Nesbitt while Elijah waved to the overwhelming crowds as he emerged from the Hobbit house that was constructed at the front of the Embassy Theatre. It's just the beginning of press for the movie, which hits theaters on Dec. 14.
Director Peter Jackson took to Facebook today to officially announce that The Hobbit will be three movies, rather than two, as originally planned. In his statement, he wrote that he and partner Fran Walsh had recently watched the footage and asked themselves, "Do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved 'yes.'" Jackson continued on to say, "So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of 'The Hobbit' films, I'd like to announce that two films will become three."
There is no word yet on whether this decision will affect the previously announced release dates for the two movies, An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson team up on the upcoming film The Adventures of Tintin (Spielberg in the director's chair and Jackson as producer), and the motion capture animated film opened Hall H at Comic-Con this morning. The film is based on a European comic strip about an ambitious reporter, and features the voices of Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, and Jamie Bell. After the panel, Spielberg and Jackson did a press conference with reporters to talk more about what it was like making the film. Here are some highlights:
On feeling more comfortable with live action films:
Peter Jackson: "We can't use computers, either of us. I can hardly send emails."
On working with actors in motion capture, where they don't have costumes or makeup:
Steven Spielberg: "It all comes down to the actors looking each other in the eyes, that's where all the comedy or the drama happens. The truth of those performance is when they're acting together. Actors just need each other to act together. I think that's the secret of great acting: you have to bring your imagination to the part."
On making movies in the digital age:
SS: "It may be a digital era, but it's still an analog era in terms of telling a good story. There's nothing of greater importance than the story. . . . The medium is not the message but the characters, and the story and the plot is. If any movie is working, hopefully how it was made is not a concern — you only want to have a good time."
On Tintin being a movie for a wide audience:
SS: "This movie I'm making for all of you. Some movies I make for myself, when the subject matter is very sensitive and very personal. But there are other kinds of genre films that I need to make for the audience. And Tintin is just such a movie."
On identifying with Tintin:
SS: "Tintin is a intrepid, tenacious reporter who often becomes part of the story. I identify with Tintin in the sense that he does not take no for answer, and that has been the story of my life."
On what they learned about each other as filmmakers:
PJ: "The thing that surprised me is given Steven's huge body of work and the incredible films that he's made, I thought Steven would have a kind of a process, and I was looking forward to seeing it. But what I discovered is that Steven walks into the set and, it's like the first time he's walked on to a film set. It's a childish — I mean that in a positive way — excitement and enthusiasm that I wasn't expecting, and it's very inspiring."
SS: "I was surprised at how patient and thoughtful Peter is. He doesn't let anything rattle him. He's a problem solver; he likes to look at a challenge from different angles and makes the best choice to solve a problem. We were in a way like two code breakers trying to figure this movie out together. Like two scientists in a lab trying to make something work. No ego, no competition. We're both on the same page: two Tintin fanboys trying to bring this movie to life."
Photos of the dwarf brothers Dori, Nori, and Ori from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were released today on the film's Facebook page. Due to hit theaters in 2012, the film describes the brothers:
Dori, Nori and Ori are intensely loyal to each other — and whilst they are perfectly happy fighting amongst themselves, woe-betide anyone who means harm to one of these brothers.
They're part of the 13 dwarf companions who accompany hobbit Bilbo Baggins on his quest to battle the dragon Smaug. Color us excited! In celebration of The Hobbit goodies (have you read the book yet?), we thought we'd take you on a special journey of our own just for fun. Follow the break for a blast from the past — Leonard Nimoy's 1967 music video tribute to Bilbo, complete with mod dance moves!
The first installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit won't arrive until December 2012, but here's an exciting treat for fans: the first official photos from the movie! In this prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) sets out on a quest to retrieve a treasure guarded by a dragon. He's joined by a crew of dwarves (and Gandalf!), and you can get a glimpse of Bilbo's dinner party in the photo below.
The big screen adaptation of The Hobbit has encountered its fair share of bumps in the road, but it sounds like the Lord of the Rings prequel is finally under way. To review, Elijah Wood will have a small part as Frodo, while Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis will reprise their roles as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively.
As extra reassurance to fans that the film is officially in the works, the studio has released these two official stills from the movie featuring director Peter Jackson just chillin' in the Shire. It's enough to get me excited about another trip to Middle Earth, what about you?
I've long questioned Hollywood's desire to bring Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones to the big screen. The book itself delicately straddles tragedy and beauty in its first-person account of a 14-year-old girl who is murdered and watches her family's unraveling from Heaven. Though I held out hope that Peter Jackson would be able to balance the same themes, it was all for naught: his big-screen version of The Lovely Bones is ambitious, but irredeemably disturbing.
I'd heard that Jackson left out the fact that his main character, Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan), is raped in the book, and that the murder occurs offscreen, which made a certain amount of sense — it's not necessary to show either to convince you that her ordeal is terrifying. But after seeing the film, it baffles me that Jackson chose to include other grisly scenes and imagery. What's even more questionable is the portrayal of Susie's "in-between" — her purgatory on the way to Heaven that's sometimes a perfect world and other times hellish.
Had Jackson chosen instead to focus on the ordeal of the Salmon family after Susie's departure — the most compelling part of the movie — I think he would have had a chance at making something more powerful. To see what I mean, just read more