10 Favorite Things about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Much has been debated about whether or not it’s a good idea that The Hobbit gets the same trilogy treatment as The Lord of the Rings trilogy when there is only one book being adapted. Now, I actually didn’t mind it and given how much I adore the Middle Earth universe, I welcome the extended film adaptation.

My interest in these movies increased tenfold when the casting was announced. It’s chock-full of my favorite actors, with Richard Armitage topping that list, then Lee Pace, Luke Evans, the BBC Sherlock duo Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, and of course the LOTR veteran Ian McKellen back as Gandalf. All of them did a wonderful job bringing their respective characters to life. Heck I even like Orlando Bloom as Legolas, I’m not fond of him as an actor but I can’t imagine anyone else in that role.

So here are 10 things I love about the second part of The Hobbit trilogy:

10. The livelier pace
Right of the bat, the film feels more energetic as we finally get to the quest in question. There’s a bit of a flashback scene with Thorin and Gandalf that sets everything up, and since it features my favorite Brit Richard Armitage, I certainly welcome this intro ;)

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There are half a dozen major action-packed sequences that really genuinely thrilling, so despite some slower moments, the 161-min running time still feels like a breeze. There is even more sense of urgency to get to Erebor and it definitely makes me even more eager to finally get there myself.


9. The fantastic special effects and set pieces
The technological wizardry is what you’ve come to expect from Peter Jackson movies. As I’ve posted the film production trivia a few days ago, you’ll see that it took a bazillion production workers nd extras, as well as props, prosthetics, sets etc. to bring the Tolkien universe to life. But it’s the endless imagination of PJ and his crews that really makes these films such a fun escapist experience. Ok so there are some sequences that look digitally animated but with a fantasy film like this, it certainly comes with the territory. I’ve also gotten used to seeing it in 3D High Frame Rate(48Frames/Second) and I have to say I enjoyed it even more this time around.

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I even enjoyed the Spider attack scene in the forest though the amazing details on those giant spiders did give me the heebie-jeebies! There are so much details to creating each character and creature, as well as the new settings such as Lake Town and the dwarves kingdom of Erebor that virtually transport you to Middle Earth.

8. The adventure in Lake-town
The addition of Luke Evans as Bard definitely adds more excitement to the story and there’s more adventure in store for Thorin & co. even just getting into the fictitious community of Men upon the Long Lake.

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They took a chance with Bard, not knowing if he’d betray him, so it adds to the suspense. It also features one of the funniest bits of the movie, which is a great continuation from the wine barrel escape (more on that later). There’s also some fun scene with always amusing Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, as well as some action packed sequence involving the Orcs and Elves. The town itself is beautiful to look at, apparently Peter Jackson and his crew built about 40 buildings on caster to make up the town.

7. The strong link to the Lord of the Rings story
Gandalf is separated from Bilbo and the Dwarf group this time around, working with his fellow wizard Radagast to get to The Dol Guldur. Inside the ruins is the creepiest sequence of all the film as Gandalf had to confront the Necromancer (once again voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).

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The terrifying eye of Sauron once again makes an appearance, establishing just what is REALLY at stake beyond the quest involving the Dwarves getting their gold back from a dragon. The duel between Gandalf vs. Necromancer reminds me a bit of the scene where he fought the Balrog creature in an epic battle in which he fell down the Bridge. There’s something so sinister seeing an imprisoned Gandalf watch the Orc army marching off towards the Lonely Mountain and he can’t stop them.

6. The awesomely bad-ass Elves
I always like the elves from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but here, led by Legolas and the Woodland Elf Tauriel. She’s not in the book so I think purists might have a different opinion about her (and Legolas appearing in The Hobbit), but I quite like Evangeline Lily as the warrior Elven princess. As the head of the Elven guard, she’s definitely as bad ass as Legolas, who’s even more swift and agile with his bow and arrows. They both move at breakneck speed as they fight the Orcs, yet there’s something so graceful and elegant about their moves that are so fun to watch. There’s an interesting dynamic between Legolas and Tauriel, hinting at a romance between the two (though seems like Tauriel has more of a thing with Thorin’s nephew Kili, played by the gorgeous Aidan Turner, in this movie).

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One of my favorite scenes from the LOTR trilogy are those set in the ethereal Rivendell, now in this sequel, we’re taken to where the Wood-elves and its leader Thranduil live. I always enjoy the long shot of the lush and beautiful vista of the Elves’ dwelling place. Lee Pace‘s Thranduil has a bit more to do in this sequel, as there are memorable exchanges with Thorin as well as with his son Legolas.

5. Finally getting to Erebor
At the end of the first movie, when everyone was at the top of the large rock and saw the Lonely Mountain in the distance, I remember how I couldn’t wait for the gang to finally reach it. Well, it was so worth the wait!

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There’s something so emotional about the sequence when they finally reach that abandoned palace. It’s apparent that Bilbo and the band of Dwarfs are so weary after such a long journey, both physically and emotionally, so it’s such a huge joy to see them finally reaching their destination. Bilbo once again saves the day and we get to live vicariously through him as his REAL adventure begins as he reach the mountain of gold and jewels… and finally having to face the Dwarves’ arch nemesis!


4. Thorin! Thorin! Thorin!
It’s no surprise that I have a special fondness for Richard Armitage‘s character, but really, can you blame me? It’s one of the best casting choice in The Hobbit, a close second after Martin Freeman as Bilbo. Armitage has even more to do here (yay!) and he sure delivers with stately gravitas. Armitage didn’t sing again here, but he gets to showcase his thunderous deep voice of his in several occasions,  especially in the scene in Lake-town when he appeals to the Master and the people of the town about his quest. I also love that he gets to show his range here as an actor, obviously displaying leading-man charisma but also a certain vulnerability and even tenderness.

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There’s an emotional scene as the gang reaches Erebor, starting with indescribable joy that soon turns to grave disappointment. Thorin displays one of his rare smiles, he’s actually grinning ear to ear at the possibility of finally entering his palace once more, but within minutes we see how his high spirits quickly leaves him. It’s all on display on his expressive face as the camera zooms in on him. His humanity is palpable, here we really see Thorin as not just a leader on a mission, but a man on a very personal journey that means everything to him and the people he loves.


3. The Wine Barrel scene
There’s been many discussions of this escape sequence in many interviews and boy, it definitely lives up to the hype!! If you don’t remember anything about this film, you’d likely remember this one. The scene of getting into the barrel itself is a hoot, which was big enough to fit a couple of Dwarves (well one for the extremely obese Bombur). Once they get to the Celduin river, all hell break lose!

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It’s such a huge rush to watch this scene, no wonder filming this seems to be the most memorable for the cast involved! Not only do they have to survive being bounced around in the river, which runs from the Lonely Mountain south through the Long Lake with some fierce streams, they also have to battle the ugly and vicious Orcs (or Goblins as known in the Hobbit books). The fight scenes involving the three different races (Goblins, Elves and Dwarves) along that river are relentless and exciting, definitely one of the most exhilarating action sequences of the year.


2. Bilbo the hero
What I appreciate most about this film is that each challenges Bilbo, Thorin and the gang encounter built on their character. I think Bilbo’s character arc is even more fleshed out. He told Gandalf that he’s found his courage and though it was told as an alibi, he’s certainly not lying as he’s evolved to be a brave fighter of his own right. The way he rescued the dwarves from the giant spiders show his growing strength and deftness with the sword, but my favorite part is his scene in Erebor.

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He still has his whimsy intact, which makes me love Martin Freeman‘s casting even more. The way he moves and all his nervous gestures are part of his charms and why it’s so effortless to root for him. His zany-ness makes for pure comedic gold, even when he’s literally surrounded by gold trying to find the Arkenstone, which is like finding needle in a haystack!
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1. Smaug
The mythical dragon is everything it’s cracked up to be and more! When Bilbo inevitably wakes him up with all the ruckus, it turns out the lonely dragon is one chatty giant lizard. I guess he’s been all alone for so long with nobody to talk to that he simply can’t shut up, ahah. Benedict Cumberbatch did some motion capture on top of just providing the voice of Smaug, which gives it such a lifelike realism to the creature.

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We get to see every bit of Smaug in its glorious detail from head to toe, which is all kinds of awesome. He’s slithering about tormenting Bilbo with his enormous presence, but it’s the banter between the two that I enjoy the most. It’s dramatic as well as hilarious that I wish the Smaug sequence could’ve been longer! Nice to see the BBC Sherlock duo together again, Cumberbatch’s wit and that iconic voice certainly creates enough of a presence that it was fun to see him interact with Martin Freeman.

The final confrontation with Thorin & co. is thrilling as they’re trying to outwit and outmaneuver the sly Smaug. With Gandalf being away facing off against an even darker power of evil, Bilbo and the Dwarves are pretty much on their own. “If this is to end in fire, then we will all burn together,” Thorin proclaims defiantly, and the fight in Erebor is certainly a fiery one.

I really enjoyed the Smaug sequences that when he flew away and the closing credits came on, I felt like it was a tad too soon!


Kili (Aidan Turner)

Kili (Aidan Turner)

Now, I wish I could give this film a 5/5 but there are some REALLY slow moments that I feel grounds the film to a halt. One scene in particular is the lengthy flirty banter between Tauriel and Kili. Now, as Tauriel isn’t even in the book, I can”t imagine that scene is crucial to the story. It’s also odd given that there was much talk about Tauriel & Legolas romance that we barely see. Kili gets a lot more screen time in this film, so I’m curious about his character arc in the final installment.

Overall, it’s a great follow-up of an epic journey. The ending promises that even more lives are at stake in Middle Earth with Smaug being unleashed. Boy I’m even more eager to see the final film.

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4 out of 5 reels

So what do you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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10 reasons The Hobbit is a worthwhile journey

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I saw The Hobbit twice already, the first time on an advanced screening before my vacation and the second time this past weekend. I enjoyed it both times, perhaps a bit more the second time around. Despite the 2 hrs 44 minutes running time, I find it to be thoroughly enjoyable. That’s not to say that I didn’t think the length was perfect, I think there are indeed some scenes that could’ve been edited out, especially some of the battle scenes. But no, I did not find it to be as problematic as critics made it out to be. It’s worth noting that I have NOT read the book so I have no complain about the extra scenes, either.

So here are ten reasons why I’m glad to be back to Middle Earth once again:

1. The world that Tolkien built... and the classic tale of good vs. evil. I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed this movie so much is that I LOVE this fantasy world, the story and its wisdom. There’s an underlying message of hope, courage and love that’s worth revisiting again and again. I’ve loved the characters in the Lord of the Rings, and I also feel a connection with the main characters of The Hobbit. (See #9)

2. The dazzling visuals … The technological wizardry enables us to experience the journey as if we’re actually there inside Bilbo’s house, or in the woods spying on Thorin & co. I saw this movie both times in the High Frame Rate (48Frames/Second) Digital 3D format (NOT the IMAX version) and I have no qualms about it. Yes it’s so crisp that it looks like watching a show on HDTV but after a while, your eyes adjust to it and I’ve come to appreciate the clarity of every little detail and the smoothness of the fast-moving action scenes. It’s such a meticulously-crafted universe, from the interior of Bilbo’s house in the Shire to the ever-so-ethereal Rivendell, which was as majestic as I had remembered it in LOTR.

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It’s obvious this movie is a labor of love for Peter Jackson and it shows. The sweeping cinematography is one to behold, it was a welcome return to the visually mesmerizing world of Middle Earth.

3. Martin Freeman as Bilbo … I’m so glad that PJ was set on casting Freeman, even to the point of reworking the entire shooting schedule (due to the BBC’s Sherlock‘s scheduling conflict) for the Hobbit films to accommodate him. I think his casting is integral to the success of the movie and his personal journey is a joy to watch. Freeman is exactly what I’d imagine the young Bilbo would be. His bumbling mannerism, the way he constantly doubts himself, and his lack of vanity are all what I love about this character. Freeman plays the heroic ‘everyman’ so perfectly, I absolutely can’t imagine anyone else in this role.


TheHobbit_Thorin4. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield… I was thrilled when I first heard that one of my favorite Brits got a major role in The Hobbit! The English actor definitely has the right look (despite his 6’2″ stature) and sensibility as the Aragorn-like leader of the pack. As the son of the slain Dwarf king and heir of Erebor Kingdom, he’s naturally got a sullen demeanor and a fierce determination to take back his stolen homeland destroyed by Smaug the Dragon. Armitage’s got a mean (read: irresistible) glower which PJ made the most of throughout the movie. Even underneath all that beard and dwarf costume, he’s still so darn hunky. Oh and that deep voice! I sure hope there’s another singing sequence in the 2nd and 3rd movies ;)

5. The Lord of the Rings nostalgia … It’s a good thing that PJ came back to direct this movie as it’s got all the ingredients and the vibe I’ve come to appreciate about the LOTR franchise. I also LOVE seeing the characters from the trilogy reappearing here, Frodo, Lord Elrod, Saruman and especially Galadriel and Gandalf. I’ve missed seeing Cate Blanchett on screen so it was nice to see her even in her brief scenes. Ian McKellen is fantastic as usual as the wise Gandalf the Grey. His chemistry with Bilbo is especially heartfelt, Gandalf truly believes in him despite what Thorin thinks about having him around in their quest.

6. The riddle scene of Gollum and Bilbo … Easily the main highlight of the movie for me. Andy Serkis is such a mo-cap virtuoso and Gollum is even more life like than ever before. His bulging blue eyes are ever-so-expressive, it’s especially amusing when he’s frustrated trying to come up with an answer for a riddle. He’s terrifyingly creepy but yet you can’t help but feeling sorry for the poor soul when he lost his ‘precious’ one. An iconic character that never wears out its welcome.

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7. Howard Shore’s gorgeous music … it evokes the lush sound of LOTR and I love that it plays the same theme when certain scenes are revisited, such as when the ring shows up. But yet it’s got its own distinct theme that is unique for The Hobbit. The melody from the song played in Bilbo’s house you heard in the trailer is played throughout. It sounds so beautifully melancholic as a song, but it’s got a lively energy when played during some of the dynamic action scenes.

8. The merry band of dwarves (I purposely use the Tolkien spelling here)The Hobbit is decidedly more lighthearted than the LOTR trilogy, though it still carries a profound message of good vs evil. In the first viewing I felt that the introduction of the Dwarves and the huge dinner party at Bilbo’s house went on a bit too long. But on second viewing I actually enjoyed it a lot more. Their colorful personality offers a stark contrast to the reclusive Bilbo and their angst-y leader Thorin. Radagast the Brown, one of Gandalf’s fellow Wizards, is amusingly quirky as well.

9. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth – Matthew 5:5

Galadriel: Mithrandir, why the halfling?

Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and it gives me courage.

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I LOVE Gandalf answer. Bilbo is not of noble breed, nor does he have certain superpowers, in fact, he’s chosen because of his small stature and humility. In the midst of superhero movies out there, it’s nice to see a ‘regular guy’ who does heroic deeds motivated by love and empathy for others. The initially-doubtful Bilbo finally comes into his own towards the end, realizing his worth and his place in the journey to the Lonely Mountain. His speech after he escaped Goblin Town is moving and inspiring, delivered so effortlessly by Freeman without even the slightest bit of trite.
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10. Movie escapism at its best…I went in expecting to be swept away in a world so unlike my own and live vicariously through Bilbo as he goes about on his adventure and that’s what I got. Yes some of the scenes are perhaps a bit too cartoon-ish, I mean we’re talking about these dwarves falling down a cavern as the bridge they’re on breaks into fragments, and once they fell hundreds of feet below, a 500+ pound goblin king falls on them. Yet they all survive perfectly with no major injury! I suppose we don’t know the exact genetic makeup of a dwarf so their bones could be a heck of a lot stronger than humans. What else would explain Thorin survival after being whacked by the giant pale Orc Azog with a big mace with spikes on them! It’s all part of the ‘fantasy’ bit folks, so I don’t see a point in nitpicking on that front.

As for Azog as the main villain in this film, I heard some people complain that he’s a ‘weak’ villain. Well naturally he would be if you compare him to Sauron and his evil watchful eye, but the pale Orc is just one of the evil ‘minions’ if you will, employed by the powerful dark force that Thorin & co. would eventually have to face.

All in all, it’s a wonderful start of an epic journey. I really care for the characters and the quest for them to take back their homeland. I was caught up in the adventures and for me and now I can’t wait for what happens next!


So what do you think of The Hobbit? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

The Christmas List Blogathon

Hello everyone! I’m back!

Actually I’ve been back since last Saturday but sooo exhausted from our hectic trip and the long layovers so I really had no energy to blog. I did manage to update the layout a bit as my theme got an upgrade to a wider format so I did a little bit of that. Hope you like it :D

Well, I was doing my rounds around my friends’ blogs when I came across the Christmas list at Sati’s blog which was apparently started by Diana at Aziza’s Picks. Inspired by the gift-giving tradition of the season, she thought about what she would buy for her fellow bloggers. What a nice idea! I actually don’t come from a culture where gift-giving is a must for Christmas, but I couldn’t help but take part in this as I believe it’s just as rewarding–if not more so—to give than to receive.

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Therefore, if time/location/money is no issue, this is what I wish I could give ten of my blog friends. Following Sati’s cue, my list also has a bit of fantasy mixed in (I’m sure the recipient don’t mind if it doesn’t come nicely wrapped underneath the Christmas tree) ;)

First I’d like to start with my contributor Ted Saydavalong. I hope he hasn’t got ‘em already but I’d love to ship him the Lawrence of Arabia 50th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. Surely it would look spectacular in his home cinema (hopefully he’d invite me, he..he..)

  • Sati – An open ticket to the next Hobbit film premiere where she’ll be personally escorted by the Elven King Thranduil himself (aka Lee Pace).
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  • Novroz – I know she’s still over the moon watching the Mighty Boosh Special Edition DVD, so this Noel Fielding t-shirt might put her over the edge, ahah. She might never want to take ‘em off!
  • Andina – My fellow Indo blogger loves soundtracks so I’d love to get her the CDs of Life of Pi and Intouchables that she just featured recently.

  • UnforgivenPosterMichael – Since he just listed his top ten Westerns list, I’d love to ship him the Blu-ray for each of those fine selection.

  • Terrence – Now for our TV star amongst us, I’d love to surprise T with a special guest appearance from his beloved Avenger, Black Widow for his Take 2 with Terrence show. Perhaps Scarlett Johansson could drop by around the time Avengers sequel is released ;)

  • Fernando A young man of discriminating taste, perhaps a Pedro Almodóvar marathon is in order? This Viva Pedro collection should fit nicely under the Christmas tree.

  • Mark – I know he’d rather be at home in Glasgow than anywhere else (who could blame him?) but perhaps a pair of tickets to New York City in April to attend the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival might entice him to take a little American vacation? Who knows he might rub elbows with his hero, the film fest founder Robert De Niro.
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  • Paula For an elegant woman with a penchant for classic movies… I’d love to ship her just about every Cary Grant DVD Box Set I could find on TCM, such as this one.

  • Castor – For my fellow Minnesotan blogger who’s been working tirelessly all year long, I just want to somehow give him a month off from work so he could watch movies every single day. I’ll throw in some movie tickets as well to sweeten the deal :D

  • Josh – For the Oscar expert amongst us, I wish I could somehow score him a ticket to the upcoming Academy Award ceremony on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood!

So MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! God’s blessings to you all.

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The year of ensemble-cast movies – which one is your favorite?

With The Avengers kick-starting the Summer movie season, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of blockbusters. The year of ensemble cast blockbusters to be exact, as The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit are all vying to be amongst the ‘billion dollar club’ of the decade.

Avengers’ cast in the London premiere

An ensemble cast: a cast in which the principal performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production.

A couple of years ago I listed my top five ensemble cast films from the past decade. Now, it’s not as simple as just hiring a bunch of actors in one movie, as some dismal movies like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve did. A good ensemble formula is when the assembled players actually work well together and elevate the story, instead of just getting ‘butts in seats’ for their name’s sake.

The ensemble cast films aren’t limited to just the mega blockbusters, however, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love also boast a large troupe of actors for their films. There’s also the 80s action heroes ensemble that is Expendables 2, and comedy ensembles What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Movie 43 from the Farrelly Brothers which I talked about last March [it's apparently has been pushed out 'til next January]. On a smaller scale, there are these two independent projects I’m highly enthusiastic about:

  • At Swim Two Birds with the Irish ‘dream team’ of Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, and Jonathan Rhys Meyersthat’s hopefully out this year as well.
  • All Things to All Men with Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell, Toby Stephens, Elsa Pataky (Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth’s wife), Leo Gregory, Julian Sands and James Frain. I will blog about this as soon as I have more info about the project, but in the meantime, check out this comprehensive post on Byrneholics site.

Ok, these three films represent three of my favorite ensemble cast from this year’s release (apart from The Avengers that is):

Moonrise Kingdom

  • Edward Norton
  • Bruce Willis
  • Bill Murray
  • Tilda Swinton
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Jason Schwartzman
  • Frances McDormand

Norton, Willis and Murray… what a trio! The trailer looks like a hoot as well. This might be another Wes Anderson movie I like since The Royal Tennenbaums!

The Dark Knight Rises

  • Tom Hardy
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Christian Bale
  • Liam Neeson
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Gary Oldman
  • Marion Cotillard
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Michael Caine

The Dark Knight‘s cast is already ace, but the additional cast (especially Hardy and Gordon-Levitt) just makes it even better!! I’ve never even heard of Josh Pence before (last photo on the 2nd row) but curious how he’d fare as young Ra’s Al Ghul.

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  • Luke Evans
  • Hugo Weaving
  • Elijah Wood
  • Martin Freeman
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Evangeline Lilly
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Christopher Lee
  • Ian McKellen
  • Andy Serkis
  • Richard Armitage
  • Ian Holm
  • Lee Pace
  • Billy Connolly

Now, is it any wonder I actually dreamed about being on the set of this movie??! Again, I already LOVE the cast of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but Peter Jackson seems to have upped the ante even more as The Hobbit is chock full of my favorite UK/Aussie actors!! A lot of them are from UK TV shows so I wonder if PJ are a big fan of BBC? :D You already know this but I’m looking forward to seeing Richard Armitage as Thorin the most, but also Lee Pace as Thranduil the Elven King!

Added 12/3

HONORABLE MENTION:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – I LOVE the all-British cast, especially the two Dames: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. But it’s also nice to see the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy amongst the cast as well.


Inspired by my pal Terrence’s Time to Vote Tuesday, I figure it’d be fun to have an interactive post for today :)

So which of these ensemble cast is your favorite? Please cast your vote below (you can pick 2) and do share why in the comments :)

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Random Thoughts: The agony & ecstasy of [film-release] anticipation

Yuu huu… it’s raining trailers this week isn’t it? First we’ve got the final Batman saga The Dark Knight Rises from Christopher Nolan, I’m sure y’all have seen the epic trailer by now. Well, I was watching The Artist [a flawless movie, review to come] on an advanced screening last night so I missed all the festivities around The Hobbit trailer release, but as soon as I get home I just had to fire up the trailer… see it below if you haven’t already:

Before I go on, here’s my two-cents on this trailer:

This beautiful trailer brings back memories of why I LOVE Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in the first place. The trailer captures the visual style and mood of the trilogy that we’ve come to love, but this time there’s one cast member I’m SUPER excited about… Richard Armitage! I announced his casting news in October of last year, so I kept waiting for Gandalf to announce the dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield… Whoa, he still looks hot under the dwarf make up, and boy he gets to sing, too!! One of the things I love about Richard is his deep baritone voice (just like Gregory Peck, he’s truly got the whole package on top of being tall, dark and handsome!). I REALLY hope this will bring more Hollywood roles for him. Come on, more casting agents ought to see BBC’s North & South already. Mr. Thornton FTW! Sorry, I just have to get that out of the way…

The rest of the ensemble cast is nothing short of phenomenal as well, on top of the original LOTR cast like Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, etc. I’m thrilled to see Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans and of course Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins. By the time the Howard Shore score comes on, I’ve got goosebumps all over again, I’m so ready to be transported to Middle Earth right about now!

Man oh man, there’s too much cinematic excitement this week I could spontaneously com-bust! I’m still recovering from the awesomeness of The Dark Knight Rises, and now this! My pal Terrence @ ScarletSp1der just had a mind-boggling poll asking us to do the impossible… that is to choose between Batman 3 or The Hobbit. Oh man that’s like Sophie’s Choice. I can’t, I can’t… and I won’t! I am excited for both equally despite those being two very different films. Fortunately, we don’t have to as they’re released a half a year apart!

With 2011 coming to a close, surely more trailers are to come as studios are hoping to build up the hype for their 2012 movies. Now, as a film lover, the contrasting emotion of agony & ecstasy of anticipating movies can be unbearable! With every joy we get of seeing a movie trailer/clip/featurette what have you, it’s always followed by the agony of waiting for its release! I mean, I’m already complaining about the 7-month wait for The Dark Knight Rises but The Hobbit won’t be out until next December 2013, a stinkin’ FULL YEAR from now!! Oh Mr. Jackson, the agony….

And that’s just two of them, there are a whole slew of movies I’m anticipating next year, here are just a shortlist I can think of right now (release date is for USA).

  • The Avengers –  May 4, 2012
  • Great Gatsby – December 25, 2012
  • Prometheus – June 8, 2012
  • Skyfall (Bond 23) – November 9, 2012
  • Total Recall – August 3, 2012

Not including other ones which release dates haven’t been announced yet such as All Things to All Men and two of Gerry Butler’s sports-themed movies Of Men and Mavericks and Playing the Field. As you can see, the earliest movie to be released on the list is The Avengers, and that’s almost a half a year wait.

As I’ve just seen The Artist, it makes me think people’s attitude about upcoming movies back in the day in the pre-Internet and social media era, before movie marketing constantly bombards us the way they do today. I mean, the average moviegoers probably didn’t know a movie was coming out until like  a month before. The only ‘hype’ the movie’s got is only through newspapers, radio and occasional TV spots. Back then going to the movies were such big events, people got dressed up and line up to see the new marquee film playing in their local theater, waiting to ‘escape’ into the world of the movies, forgetting their troubles for a couple of hours. Unless they’re the film critics, I bet they weren’t picking apart each scene or fuming that so and so sequence they saw on the trailer wasn’t included, etc. Today, we often come with certain preconceived expectations about a given movie long before the opening credits roll, so for better for worse, our experience of movie-watching is undoubtedly very different.

Anyway, that’s just an observation I just want to share with you. I guess it’s up to us to keep our excitement and anticipation in check, which is getting harder to do given the increasing ferocity of social media marketing. The studios certainly are making the most of ‘em as my Twitter feed is abuzz with film updates almost every minute!!


What are your thoughts on this topic, folks? And while you’re at it, what are the top five films you’re anticipating next year?

Happy Birthday Andy Serkis!

English actor Andy Serkis turns 47 today. Best known for playing the computer-generated character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he was easily the hardest working actor on the set due to the complexity of the creative process of bringing Gollum to the screen.

According to IMDb, Serkis spent almost two years in New Zealand and away from his family, and much of 2002 and 2003 in post-production studios for large periods of time. Before Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana did in Avatar, Serkis was already a master in motion-capture acting, which I’d imagine is just as tough, if not tougher, than standard live-action acting.

I think Gollum is easily the most iconic character in the LOTR trilogy, so all the recognition Serkis received for his groundbreaking work in that franchise is very well deserved! Check out this clip of the actor in the flesh versus his computer generated (roto-animated) version as Gollum:


It’s amazing how expressive he is, that’s definitely an art in itself. He used the same art form for his performance as Kong, once again working with Peter Jackson in King Kong, two years after The Return of the King was released. He’s not limited to only doing CGI characters though, he’s had supporting roles in 13 Going on 30, The Prestige, Inkheart, Burke & Hare, and the recently-released trailer Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Not to mention his lead role in the biopic of punk-rock star Ian Dury, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, where he nabbed Best Actor BAFTA award. I’m highly anticipating two of his upcoming movies, one is The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn that’ll be released on December 23 where he’ll play Captain Haddock. The other is The Hobbit coming in 2012. Some of you’ve probably seen Jackson’s first video journal from the set, but in case you haven’t, here it is below:


Man, as if I weren’t excited enough about this movie… this video blog got me practically drooling for The Hobbit! You can see Serkis on the make-up chair somewhere in the clip and of course, the soon-will-be-the-hunkiest dwarf ever Richard Armitage (yes Mr Thornton himself!) introducing himself to the cast and crew [sigh] Oh, and I also found this fan-made trailer on YouTube that I thought was really well-done:


Well, let’s all wish Mr. Serkis a very happy birthday! Now, are you excited about The Hobbit and Tintin movie?

The Hobbit cast shapes up … hurray for Richard Armitage!

I have been following The Hobbit movie news rather casually the past few months, having loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The production seems to have hit a bunch of snags. First the director musical chairs (which I’m glad it finally goes back to Peter Jackson) and lately there’s the actors’ strike that may threaten the filming location to be moved from New Zealand to the UK or Eastern Europe.

But this week Warner Brothers finally revealed the cast of the movie (you can check out the various sources on its IMDb page), which got me jumping up and down with glee. As you probably know from various mentions in my blog, that I adore British actor Richard Armitage! Remember the best kiss and favorite couple meme post? He’s also my choice for Robin Hood when there was rumors they’re developing a futuristic version of the medieval hero. Those in the UK might be familiar with him as he’s currently starring in MI-5 and Strike Back series (when I visited London back in May, the poster of the later show was plastered all over the city with his face on ‘em). Ever since I saw him in North & South and the Vicars of Dibley Christmas episodes, I’ve been wishing this talented actor would get a major role in a substantial Hollywood or UK production. But The Hobbit?? Oh my, this by far exceeds my expectation!

Richard will portray Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarfs (The fan art of what Richard would look like as Thorin is courtesy of theonering.net). Here’s what Peter Jackson himself said about the 39 year-old actor:

Click to enlarge

“Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield… We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle-Earth is in such good hands.”

Interesting that they pick someone standing at 6’2″ to play a dwarf (I’d think he’d make a fabulous Aragorn), but then again, John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli was taller than Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen at 6’1″. But according to his IMDb bio, Rhys-Davies’ height was exactly the right proportions to those of his hobbit co-stars and no body doubles were used in their shots together. The hobbits are supposed to average about 3′ 6″ (2 feet shorter than the actors who played them) and Gimli, at just over 4 feet tall, is about 2 feet shorter than the real Rhys-Davies. It’s fascinating to learn about the various technique of ‘dwarf’-ing the actors, Wikipedia lists the complicated use of scale doubles and forced perspective to achieve that effect.

English actor Martin Freeman

By the way, I apparently missed the fact that Richard will also have a small part in Captain America: The First Avenger as the hero’s Nazi nemesis Heinz Kruger, but his role is much more prominent in this LOTR prequel project. Not to mention a chance to work with prominent thespians such as Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Andy Serkis who are reportedly back (per IMDb) to reprise their roles from LOTR. The rest of the new Hobbit cast include: Martin Freeman (Love Actually, Hot Fuzz, Sherlock TV series) as Bilbo Baggins (Frodo’s uncle), Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) will play Kili and Fili, members of the Company of Dwarves. Graham McTavish (Secretariat) will play Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) will play Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) will play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow (King Kong) plays Dori, while Peter Hambleton (The Strip) will play Gloin (per Deadline).

Are you all anticipating this movie? We’ve got a long way to wait though until the first part of The Hobbit is released in December 2012.