4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!
98 years ago today, the greatest actor of all time, Christopher Lee, was born in London! Today, we honor a legacy of iconic performances, in films that were both good and bad. Lee worked with everyone from Terence Fisher to Peter Jackson to Martin Scorsese to Laurence Olivier to John Huston to ….. well, if they were an important director, they probably made at least one movie with Christopher Lee! He was Dracula. He was Saruman. He was one of the best Bond villains and it’s been rumored that, during World War II, Lee was a bit of a James Bond himself.
Today, we honor a brilliant career with….
4 Shots From 4 Films
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972, dir by Alan Gibson)
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974, dir by Guy Hamilton)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, dir by Peter Jackson)
If you like history as much as old movies, Oscar-winning New Zealander Peter Jackson has a treat for you – THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD, a World War I documentary utilizing 100+ year old footage from the Imperial War Museum (most of it never viewed outside there) to tell the story of the British Empire’s infantry during The Great War. Jackson was given access to hundreds of hours of actual film and audio and commissioned to create something “unique and original”, and with the aid of modern technology he certainly succeeded in his mission.
Jackson’s narrative is told through the eyes of the young men and boys (some as young as 15) as they go through enlistment and boot camp, training to kill the enemy, then follows them to the Western Front, where they encountered not only battles in the trenches, but dysentery, rats gnawing at their fallen comrades, lice…
The biggest trailer that dropped this week was the trailer for Creed II, which Lisa shared on Wednesday. Here’s the best of the rest.
The X-Men franchise has seen so,e impressive highs (First Class, Days of Future Past) and some astounding lows (Last Stand, Apocalypse). Hopefully, the upcoming Dark Phoenix will be another high. Based on one of the comic’s best known storylines, Dark Phoenix would seem to have all the ingredients for success with the only question mark being first time director Simon Kinberg. Dark Phoenix will be released on February 14th.
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are together again as Holmes & Watson. Holmes & Watson will be released on November 9th, just in time to help you laugh away your Election Day blues.
Everyone’s favorite transformer gets a brand new trailer for his upcoming solo project, Bumblebee.Bumblebee will be released this Christmas.
For those who have still not gotten over the conclusion of the Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be coming for your money on November 16th.
Finally, we have the trailer for Peter Jackson’s upcoming documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. Jackson has taken footage that was actually shot during World War I, colorized it, and added sound, in order to let modern audiences experience, for themselves, the infamous War to End All Wars. They Shall Not Grow Old will be released on October 16th in the UK.
It seems kind of weird to do a quick review for a 144 minutes film that not only serves as the end of one epic trilogy but also as a prequel for yet another epic trilogy.
Well, so be it. I hate to admit it but I really don’t have that much to say about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies beyond the fact that I saw it on the day after Christmas, I enjoyed it, and I thought Aidan Turner was really hot. It’s not a perfect film but then again, The Hobbit has never been a perfect trilogy. As opposed to the Lord of the Ring films, The Hobbit told a story that could have easily been told in two films. As a result, whenever you watch one of The Hobbit films, you’re aware of all of the filler that was included just to justify doing three films.
But so what? The Hobbit films are fun. Despite the cynical economic reasons behind turning The Hobbit into a trilogy, director Peter Jackson’s love for the material always came through. In the title role, Martin Freeman was always likable. Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee made for properly enigmatic wizards. Though apparently his inclusion caused some controversy among purists, it was nice to Orlando Bloom as Legolas. I also liked Evangeline Lilly’s elf character, even if everyone else seemed to dislike her and her love story with Aidan Turner. And then there was Benedict Cumberbatch providing a perfectly evil and self-satisfied voice for Smaug.
I have to admit that, with the exception of Aidan Turner, I was never a big fan of the dwarves. They were all so surly and bad-tempered and it didn’t take me too long to get tired of Richard Armitage showing up as Thorin and acting like a jerk. However, in the final part of the trilogy, Armitage’s surly performance started to make sense. As Thorin grew more and more paranoid, I saw that The Hobbit was actually using both the character and Armitage’s performance to make a much larger point. Power corrupts and most conflicts are ultimately all about money and property. It was a good message.
When the Battle of the Five Armies started, I was shocked to discover how little I remembered about the previous two Hobbit films. It took me a while to get caught up on who everyone was and why they were all fighting over that mountain. As opposed to the LoTR films, it’s not always easy to get emotionally invested in The Hobbit films. But, Jackson is a good director and he’s a good storyteller and, even though it took me a while to get caught up, I was still often enthralled with what I was watching on screen. The images were so stunning and the battle scenes were so spectacularly done that I could handle being occasionally confused.
Battle of the Five Armies is a fitting end for the Hobbit trilogy. It’s not a perfect film but it is exciting and fun and that’s really all that matters. At the end of it, the audience in the theater applauded, not just for the film but in recognition of everything that Peter Jackson has given us over the past 14 years.
It was a good way to spend the day after Christmas.
It’s been 13 years since the first film in what will ultimately become Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth Saga and now we’re in the stretch run. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is set to arrive in North America this December 17. The film premiered in London on December 1, 2014.
Kids who first saw The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001 are now young adults. For adults who have returned time and time again to the world Peter Jackson built for over a decade of limitless imagination and hard work of thousands this final film will be the culmination of watching what many in years past have called unfilmable.
So, it’s with both joy and sadness that the book finally closes on Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth journey and what better way than the final end credits song “The Last Goodbye” written and recorded by Peregrin Took himself, Billy Boyd.
The video itself mixes in scenes from both The Battle of the Five Armies and the previous five films. We also get some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast making their final farewells as filming closes to an end.
Damn people cutting onions.
The Last Goodbye
I saw the light fade from the sky On the wind I heard a sigh As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers I will say this last goodbye
Night is now falling So ends this day The road is now calling And I must away Over hill and under tree Through lands where never light has shone By silver streams that run down to the sea
Under cloud, beneath the stars Over snow one winter’s morn I turn at last to paths that lead home And though where the road then takes me I cannot tell We came all this way But now comes the day To bid you farewell Many places I have been Many sorrows I have seen But I don’t regret Nor will I forget All who took the road with me
Night is now falling So ends this day The road is now calling And I must away Over hill and under tree Through lands where never light has shone By silver streams that run down to the sea
To these memories I will hold With your blessing I will go To turn at last to paths that lead home And though where the road then takes me I cannot tell We came all this way But now comes the day To bid you farewell
It hasn’t been received as well as Jackson’s own The Lord of The Rings trilogy, but The Hobbit did hit it’s stride with 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. People still haven’t bought into Jackson’s decision to film the prequel trilogy in the 48-frame rate format which gives the films an ultra-definition look that anyone with an HDTV will recognize when watching with the anti-judder effect on.
Yet, this is The Hobbit and any flaws and ill-timed decisions made still hasn’t diminished it’s hold on those who have read the book and on those who were pulled into the cinematic world adapted by Jackson. We now see the final film in the Middle-Earth cinematic universe about to come down on audiences this 2014 Holiday. This weekend at the Comic-Con saw the first teaser trailer air at Hall H to the delight of those in attendance.
Warner Brothers has seen fit to release a shorter version of the teaser shown at Hall H, but it still shows that all the set-up and slog through the first film will have an epic pay-off with the final leg of this trilogy: The Battle of the Five Armies.
So, guess what I did this morning? That’s right — I put on a blindfold, a stumbled over to my ever-growing Blu-ray, DVD, and even VHS collection and I randomly selected 12 films!
Why did I do this?
I did it so you, the beloved readers of Through the Shattered Lens, could once again have a chance to tell me what to do. At the end of this post, you’ll find a poll. Hopefully, between now and next Monday (that’s March 24th), a few of you will take the time to vote for which of these 12 films I should watch and review. I will then watch the winner on Tuesday and post my review on Wednesday night. In short, I’m putting the power to dominate in your hands. Just remember: with great power comes great … well, you know how it goes.
Here are the 12 films that I randomly selected this morning:
The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) — This German film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. It tells the true life story of the left-wing German terrorist group, The RAF.
The Cat’s Meow(2001) — From director Peter Bogdonavich, this film speculates about the events that led to the shooting of silent film director Thomas H. Ince. Starring Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies, Edward Herrmann as William Randolph Hearst, and Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin.
Heavenly Creatures (1994) — The close relationship between two teenage girls (Melanie Lynesky and Kate Winslet) leads to both a vibrant fantasy world and real-life murder. Directed by Peter Jackson.
In A Lonely Place(1950) — In this film noir from director Nicholas Ray, Humphrey Bogart plays a screenwriter who may (or may not) be a murderer.
Liquid Sky(1983) — In this low-budget, independent science fiction film, an alien lands in New York and soon several members of the city’s underground art scene are vaporized. Not surprisingly, it all has to do with heroin.
Made in Britain (1983) — A very young Tim Roth makes his debut in this British film. Roth plays Trevor, a Neo-Nazi who — despite being intelligent and charismatic — also seems to be intent on destroying himself and everything that he sees.
Much Ado About Nothing(2013) — In between The Avengers and Agents of SHIELD, Joss Whedon found the time to direct this adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.
Peyton Place(1957) — In this Oscar-nominated film, the sordid secrets of an outwardly idyllic New England town are exposed.
Pretty Poison (1968) — Having just been released from a mental institution, Dennis (Anthony Perkins) finds himself involved with teenager Sue Anne (Tuesday Weld), who — despite her wholesome appearance — is actually psychotic.
Troll 2(1990) — A family moves to Nilbog, a small town that is populated by vegetarian goblins. This movie is widely considered to be one of the worst ever made.
Walkabout (1971) — In this visually stunning Nicolas Roeg film, a teenage girl and her younger brother find themselves stranded and left for dead in the Australian outback. They try to survive with the help of an Aborigine.
Zabriskie Point(1970) — In this 1970 film, the great Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni takes a look at the 60s counter-culture. Airplanes are stolen, buildings explode, and orgies magically materialize in the middle of the desert.
Today, over in NYC a special fan event for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was held which introduced a new one-sheet poster (look above), but also premiere a 3-minute sneak peek trailer to the second entry in The Hobbit Trilogy.
To say that this extended trailer is a vast improvement to all the previous teasers and official trailers for this second film in the prequel set would be an understatement. It still shows the film as being much more darker in tone than the book source it’s being adapted from, but it definitely shows a film that looks and feels much more put together than the first film (still just an assumption, but I have hopes I’ll be correct).
We see more of Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman who looks to fit in rather well instead of looking “too modern” as some feared he would look. I like how the trailer uses the poem, “The King Beneath the Mountains”, but in an altered form to make it sound like it was a prophecy. I know purist will probably rail and scream to anyone who will listen that this wasn’t how Tolkien wrote the poem. If they haven’t figured out by now that these film adaptations have been altering the written work to better fit the story then what have they been watching over the past decade.
I, for one, can’t wait for this middle film in the trilogy to finally come out and come out it shall on December 13, 2013. I saw the first film in every format and watch it in all format I shall for this one as well.
The latest “Scenes I Love” is from a horror-comedy classic from the early 90’s.
Before Peter Jackson traveled and chronicled Middle-Earth he was a Kiwi filmmaker who dabbled and had fun with low-budget splatstick horror. One such film was the horror-comedy zombie flick Dead Alive aka Braindead. The scene in question happens in the extended climactic third reel of the film and has to go down as the goriest and bloodiest film sequence ever shot.
Watching this clip makes one wonder how Peter Jackson was the same person who made this film and the Tolkien films.
It’s hard to believe that’s it’s been 11 years since Peter Jackson released The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on the masses in 2001. There were much trepidation from Tolkien fans that Jackson (who had been known mostly for low-budget splatter horror-comedies) wouldn’t be able to handle the monumental task of adapting what many consider the greatest novel ever written in the 20th century. Tolkien’s epic fantasy became the standard by which fnatasy epics would be compared to for decades to come and still do. To say that Jackson succeeded in this epic task would be an understatement. TheLord of the Rings trilogy would hoard awards from 2001 to 2003 and also box-office receipts to make any dwarf-lord green with envy.
It’s now 2012 and we finally have the release of Jackson’s next trip into Middle-Earth as he adapts another of Tolkien’s beloved novels. This time he tackles The Hobbit which for some Tolkien fans remains their favorite of the author’s works. It’s a novel that might not have the epic scope and breadth of The Lord of the Rings, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up in being a fun, adventure tale of a curious hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, a wizard named Gandalf the Grey and a fellowship of twelve dwarfs led by one Thorin Oakenshield of Erebor.
The Hobbit was originally written as a children’s book, but in later years Tolkien would retcon some parts of the novel to better fit with his magnum opus in The Lord of the Rings.It’s this revised version of that children’s story that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo Del Toro would adapt for the big-screen. Initially a two-film set that would tell the story of Bilbo and his merry band of adventurers, but it has since been expanded to become a trilogy as Jackson and his writers take a page out of Tolkien’s bag of tricks and try to tie-in this latest trilogy to the Lord of the Rings which precedes it by a over a decade.
The first film in this new trilogy is called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and we begin by returning to sometime before the beginning of the first trilogy’s first film. We see the aged Bilbo reminiscing of his adventures 60 years hence and deciding to put it to pen and paper as a sort of memoir of that adventure to reclaim the lost dwarf-hold of Erebor. It’s in this opening that we get to see Frodo once more (played once again by Elijah Wood who doesn’t seem to have aged) prior to him taking up the One Ring.
Bilbo recounts to Frodo the realm of Erebor deep inside the Lonely Mountain east of the Shire to Frodo and how it’s wealth in silver, mithril, gold and precious gems became well-known throughout Middle-Earth. Yet, as Bilbo warns, it’s the very sickness of avarice by Erebor’s Thror the King which seals the dwarf-hold’s doom. We learn that hoards of wealth does more than light up the dwarf king’s eyes with greed but also brings the attention of one of the very last dragon’s in Middle-Earth. The arrival of Smaug to Erebor signals the death of not just that dwarf realm, but the surrounding human town of Dale. The surviving dwarfs of Erebor flee in a massive diaspora towards any safe haven willing to take them in. What was once a proud and powerful realm has now been sundered and it’s afterwards that we get to the meat of the film’s story.
Martin Freeman as a younger Bilbo Baggins was more than just great casting but one which the film needed if one was to believe that this young Bilbo would grow old to be the Ian Holm one fans of the first trilogy have come to know well. His performance as Bilbo Baggins of Bag End becomes the anchor from which the rest of the company would revolve around. When we first meet Freeman as Bilbo he’s not the adventurer that he would become, but a hobbit that’s respectable and one not for doing anything foolish like going on adventures. Yet, his lot in life changes as Gandalf maneuvers the situation so that he becomes embroiled in the quest by Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage) to retake his ancestral lands of Erebor and it’s massive wealth from Smaug who has taken it for his lair.
While many would think that a film called The Hobbit would focus on Bilbo I thought the way the film unfolded that this story was all about the dwarfs with extra focus on the single-minded Thorin who comes off initially as both condescending, superior and dismissive of poor old Bilbo. The film never fails to show how much Thorin thinks so less of Bilbo yet throughout the film’s two and a half and more running time we see cracks in Thorin’s ice-cold demeanor towards the young hobbit. By film’s end we see just how wrong Thorin has been of Bilbo’s worth and it makes for one of the film’s more emotional scenes when Thorin realizes this as well.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not just about a brooding dwarf prince and his motley band of dwarfs getting into one trouble after the next once they’ve left the Shire with Bilbo. The film also brings on a parallel storyline which tries to lay down the foundation that would tie this new trilogy with the first one. It’s the storyline of the Great Necromancer that Gandalf and a fellow wizard, Radagast the Brown, suspect might be the Great Enemy returned. We learn soon enough during the White Council in Rivendell (attended by Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman the White) that this so-called Necromancer might be Sauron looking to regain his former strength and gather an army to him.
It’s this second storyline that get’s sandwiched within the Thorin Oakenshield Fellowship quest that comes off a bit awkward in the film’s overall narrative flow. Where the film is all about fun adventuring and camaraderie when the dwarfs and Bilbo are on the screen, when they’re not and the film tries to tell us about Sauron’s eventual return the film slows down. These scenes are not uninteresting. On it’s own these sequences bring back the epic tone of the original trilogy and brings it into this film, but it’s that very grandiose theme that seems out of place in what is simply a “men on a mission” story.
Fortunately, we don’t spend too much time dwelling on this side-story. The final third of the film is all about Thorin and company needing to escape from one goblin lair and orc ambush to another. The last 45 minutes or so flies back swiftly after a very uneven first two hours that would make more than a few theater-goers look at their watch. The wait is worth it as we see that Jackson hasn’t forgotten how to choreograph and stage fantasy action scenes. While the use of CGI might be more evident this time around than the previous three films they’re still small compared to other blockbuster films of it’s type. It’s still all about WETA practical effects, make-up and costumes that combine to create a world that’s become familiar yet still have a sense of newness to them as we see new areas of Middle-Earth only mentioned in brief passing in the original trilogy.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a wonderful return to the world of Middle-Earth. It is not without it’s missteps and flaws, but it also gets saved by some great performances from the ensemble cast which makes up the dwarfs. The aerial shots of the New Zealand’s eclectic geography shows just how much cinematographer Andrew Lesnie has become such a major component of making Middle-Earth come alive. Even the return of Howard Shore as the film’s composer was a welcome that brought more than a few smiles.
There’s no way of talking about The Hobbit without bringing up the stylistic gamble Peter Jackson has taken in filming this film and the rest of the trilogy in 48fps instead of the traditional 24fps (frames per second) that filmmakers have been using for almost a hundred years now. It’s an aesthetic choice that gives the film a overly realistic look akin to watching a stage production live. Everything looks too perfect and the High-Frame Rate (HFR) takes away some of the cinematic look which many have grown up seeing every time they watch a film. This new filming style works in certain areas like wide shots of the outdoor scenes. Whether it’s the emerald green rolling hills of the Shire to the snowcapped Alpine peaks of the Misty Mountains, these scenes in HFR came out beautiful. It’s when the film switches over to a much more enclosed and personal space within rooms and halls that we get the unusual “soap opera” look some have complained about. It takes a bit of getting used to, but some make the adjustment quickly enough while others may never make the adjustment.
Yet, it is when the film shows a CGI-created sequence that the HFR fails. While the doubling of the frame rate during filming has made the 3D in the film come off smoothly it did make some of the CG-effects come off as too video game-like. A sequence earlier in the film where we see a flashback of Thorin and the dwarfs of Erebor trying to retake another fallen dwarf hold in Moria (Khazadum in dwarfish) looks like a cinematic cutscene as a dwarf army charges and battles it out with an orc and goblin force which had taken Moria as it’s own.
All the scenes where HFR fails to come off as believable turn out better when The Hobbit was seen in traditional 24fps. I actually think that downscaling the film from it’s original HFR to a more traditional film frame speed of 24fps gave the film an even more magical look than the original trilogy. Jackson and his team of filmmakers have two more films to release and hopefully take some of the criticism this first film has received about HFR that they tweak and work on making the new style much more believable instead of taking the audience out of the film’s narrative.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn’t come off as grandiose as the original trilogy and for some that might come as a disappointment. Yet, as an adventure film it more than does it’s job to fully entertain it’s audience while, at the same, time reminding it’s audience how much this film and this trilogy will lead into The Lord of the Rings. I recommend that people just see the film and decide on their own whether it’s a worthy addition to the Middle-Earth saga as seen through the eyes of Peter Jackson. I, for one, think it is and with two more films left we shall see whether Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth has been a triumphant one or not.