Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug - movie

And after the book, there came the movies.

Last year An Unexpected Journey (AUJ for short) and this week The Desolation of Smaug (DOS for short).

The movie is now also released in the USA, so I can now tell a bit more about it than that I liked it (and sorry to the Aussies, who still have to wait till Boxing Day).

First, this is not The Hobbit book turned into a movie. This is a movie that takes some clues from the book The Hobbit. Some parts stay very true, others you will never ever find in the book. But at some points, all of a sudden, you watch the movie and think, "Hey, those lines I do remember from the book".

This is a much more action filled movie than the first one. It doesn't need to introduce much more extra characters and in AUJ we were left in the middle of action, not in quiet Bag End. 

First we meet Beorn, the huge skin changer. Unfortunately he doesn't look like what I had in mind from the book. But I loved the way his home looked and those giant bees. Although I did miss the dinner scene where the animals serve the dinner to the dwarves.

Mirkwood wasn't as scary as I always read it in the books. With the more played out hallucinogenic effects of the forest it became fun to watch. The spiders remained scary and I really liked how they let the spiders talk. 
The elves I liked very much. Thranduil is so very arrogant, well played! It was fun to see Legolas here and I thoroughly enjoyed Tauriel. Even when she isn't in the books, she fitted in the story. And for people worried about that so much rumoured "love triangle" it isn't that, it is more of a start of a friendship and a mutual understanding than love. 
And "my wee-lad Gimli" woohoo, so much fun to hear that.

The escape in the barrels. Hello action-scene. I loved the set-up, with Bilbo putting down his foot those dwarves had to listen to him. The entire scene was a bit too much for me, with the orcs chasing the dwarves, the elves chasing the orcs and the dwarves, elves running over dwarven heads, Bombur being catapulted into the air, tumbling over orcs, smashing them with a hammer. I had a laugh, but it was a bit overdone.

Laketown and Bard look amazing. As do The Master and Alfrid. The Master, yikes, dirty, sticky, smelly, brrrr, well played! 

But after this the story deviates a lot, for me too much, from the book. Thorin leaving behind dwarves in Laketown? Why? They should travel together to the Lonely Mountain! And why is Bilbo the one having to force the dwarves to stay for the opening of the door? Dwarves would never have given up so easily when they are finally at the mountain. They would have camped there for months to get that door to open, not 5 minutes. As if they were afraid to sleep in the dark outside?

And than to the name sake of the movie, hello Smaug, the stupendous, the magnificent! He looked amazing, the movements were spectacular, he is huge, the voice very smooth. Only ... where is that plate of gold and jewels on his chest? That's one of the things I took most from the book. That crust of jewels with the one patch missing. Now there is a patch missing, but that was damaged during his previous attack on Dale. 

The scene in the mountain is very spectacular, a slow build up with Bilbo and Smaug and later with the dwarves a high speed chase through the mountain. Getting to see much more of the inside of Erebor this time around. Although I thought the scene with the golden statue was a bit overdone, I loved the effect it gave on Smaug!

And than finally the ending, how unfair! I think I could hear Peter Jackson giggling somewhere in the back. A major build up to one of the major events of the movie and than ... end credits. I was like a fish on the dry, gasping for air. How unfair. Or, how very clever, because now I have to see the next movie (as if I wasn't going to).

All in all, a fun action filled movie. But don't expect a book adaptation.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Hobbit - the book

Before there was the movie (or right now two, and next year even three), there was the Book - The Hobbit. Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, published by George Allen & Unwin in 1937. And why? Because the proof reader of the book, Rayner Unwin, aged 10, liked the book. He gave it the okay because he thought the book was entertaining for kids and the images and map in the book helped also.

What a great way to give a childrens book a go. Let your kid read it, and if they like it, it is okay.

And it actually is a childrens book. Hard to believe when you have seen the first two movies, because they are not a typical Disney movie.

The book starts with the very famous line: "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.". This Hobbit is Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who has never any adventures. But Gandalf, the wizard thinks he can use an adventure and sets it up so 13 dwarves come together at Bilbo's house and take him with them on a quest to their homeland, Erebor. To reclaim it from Smaug the dragon, who has taken it, together with all the treasures inside.

As if that isn't already exciting enough. On their way they encounter trolls (with a talking purse), goblins, get rescued by eagles, sleep in the home of a skin changer (man and bear), get lost in an elvenwood, almost eaten by spiders, trapped in the dungeons of the elvenking, have to escape in barrels to a lake city. And than find a way inside a mountain where there is a live dragon.

The books is a classical heroes adventure. To set out, get in trouble, with some help get out of the trouble, and in the end, all ends well. With a narrator, telling the reader what is actually happening, what Bilbo is thinking or what the dwarves are actually doing.

An exciting book, fun to read, even for adults. And if you want to get an easy introduction into the world of Middle-earth, start here!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dress to tell your story

It is officially known as cosplay, but most people will call it dress up or costuming. To dress as your favourite character from a book or movie. And tell a story with what you look like.

This week at the Premiere of the Desolation of Smaug I saw some amazing costumes. 

Most of these costumes are hand made by the people who wear them. Watching the movie several times to see what the costume looks like. Looking at pictures for the details in stitching or accessories. Spending hours looking for the correct fabric. And with armour it also takes hours to make chain mail or plating. Some people may smile at the thought, dressing up. But it takes up hours of time and dedication to finish a costume. And it isn't cheap.

But on the other hand, it also is lots of fun to do, especially when it is your favourite character. To have your costume finished, wearing it, becoming that character for a while. And especially when others see which character you are and want to take pictures of your or with you.

Some examples from the premiere:
An elven lady and a tall Bilbo with cloaks

Two Hobbits

Amazing cloaks. Hand stitched!

That's not movie-Thorin, but she, yes those are all ladies, comes very close.

Thranduil x2

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug - European Premiere

By popular demand, half a day earlier than my blog normally is due. My story about the European Premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Berlin. And be warned, this will be long!

Wow, what an event. At the first part of the day, I wasn't so very sure. It was cold, it was raining, I was there all by myself. And I didn't get a front row spot (even when I was there a little before 8AM, when the event started at 6.30 PM).

But with an aching back, sore and cold feet, I decided to stay. And it sure was worth it. After a while there were three nice ladies standing next to me, from Prague and Berlin. We started chatting and counting down the hours, making the wait so much better.

The winning costumes
And of course people watching. At first the other fans. Some in such a perfect costume. There was a group close to us with Thranduil, Thorin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Dis and a Hobbit lady. They almost looked like the real deal (and to add, they did win tickets to go see the movie that night! Very well deserved!)

What's that??

What was almost more fun was watching the people who didn't know what was going on. They just came to visit Postdamer Platz. And all of a sudden barriers, lots of costumed people and other people, well bundled up. The looks on their faces was priceless. First a bit astound, but after that a laughter and taking pictures of all the people and the costumed ones.

Some local companies took the event for some good business. The local Starbucks came around with coffee. And the two guys... Elrond and Thranduil! Clever!

The long wait was broken by the people from Air New Zealand. First handing out sheets with an image from the movie, on which you could collect autographs.
And later with hot chocolate and coffee, with a great sleeve "Smauging Hot". These people really know how to embrace the world of Middle-earth.

Around 6PM they started with a live broadcast. So you could have joined in (and I know a few of you have done so). Update 11/12/13: here is a short impression from Warner Brothers: link (and if you look at 1.09, there is John Bell talking to the amazing costumed Fili and Kili, behind them a girl in a white hat and behind her somebody with a strange purple/blueish hat... yes I made it into the moving images!

By 6.30PM the first stars started to arrive. Beginning with Martin Freeman and James Nesbitt. But they got rushed past us. Oh, oh, I hoped that wouldn't be the case for the rest of the evening, stars just getting rushed past us.
But they were brought to the stage for an interview with the hosts and later Martin Freeman returned to the red carpet for autographs.

After that the stars caming pooring in. A warning ahead, some of the pictures are blurry. You have to imagine holding Brian Sibleys Official Movie Guide in one hand, in the other your camera, while squeezing in between the people in front of you while 6 rows of people behind you are pushing you towards the front with books, pieces of paper and pens are in your hair. I won't post all, some are so blurry they make me motion sick while looking at them.

James Nesbitts daughters Mary and Peggy, who play the children of Bard the Bowman and his wife, who plays Belladonna Took, Bilbo's mother.

Dan and Chris Hennah (it helps to watch the appendices a lot, I was the only one around me who recognised them, so they were happy to sign my book).

Philippa Boyens. This time I got an autograph and the chance to thank her for what she is doing for the movies.

Richard Armitage (Thorin). Who is making a habit out of crossing the red carpet just before he is where I'm standing. So no autograph, again... But at least a good picture.

Ed Sheeran, wrong side of the carpet. I had hoped he would perform "I see fire" but unfortunately he didn't.

Luke Evans (Bard), with a signature in my book.

Martin Freeman, on his way back to the stage. Taking loads of time for the fans, giving out autographs and making pictures (those actors sure have to be handy with cameras and selfies).

Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), wrong side of the carpet, but a picture. I love how he comes to premieres in those quirky coats, top hat and cane. 

Adam Brown (Ori) and Graham McTavish (Dwalin). Both an autograph!

Ryan Cage (Alfrid). New in Desolation of Smaug so not yet recognised by a lot of people, but my pre-work of looking up the pictures of the actors helped and he gladly signed my book. (He is in the picture with Sylvester McCoy, in the black suit).

Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn). Also new in the movie and not a very well known actor. So when I called out to him, somebody from (I think) Warner Brothers or at least somebody with a say in what the actors do, directed him to me, because I recognised him!

John Bell (Bain, son of Bard). Also new, very young, but such a sweetheart. Dressed in a kilt, jumping up and down because he got to sign autographs and have pictures taken. And introducing his mum, who was with him, to everybody.

Ken Stott (Balin). He signed my book and I got a chance to thank him for his role as Balin. I think he does a magnificent portrayal!

Andy Serkiss (Gollum), wrong side of the carpet. This time no high fiving the entire red carpet, Probably due to the wetness of the red carpet.

Dean O'Gorman (Fili). Got an autograph, but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a picture.

Aidan Turner (Kili). He crossed to the other side of the carpet a few people before me, and came back a few people after me.

Peter Jackson! Yes, the man himself. He took so much time with all the fans. I think he signed for everybody in the first three rows, on both sides of the red carpet. Really taking his time (and he touched my book!!! Yes it was in his hands.) And he brought his daughter Katie with him. (And in the picture, a top the white hat, that's Aidan Turner)

Benedict Cumberbatch (the Necromancer/Smaug and of course Sherlock!). He signed my book and added something. I'm still trying to decipher, but you may help... what does it say?

Orlando Bloom. Yes, even Legolas was in Berlin. I thought he would be in New York for Romeo and Julliette, but apparantly the play stopped just before the entire Desolation of Smaug frenzy started. Never thought I would be able to meet him in real life and get an autograph, but I did!

Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel). Unfortunately on the wrong side of the carpet. She was wearing a wonderful dress, and good on her, a warm coat over it.

And I did spot a few people from behind the scenes. I'm sure I saw Ra Vincent (set dresser), but he walked by pretty fast. And a couple of the guys from, I think, sound design or special effects. But they were having too much fun taking pictures of the crowd and themselves on the red carpet.

While the various stars were on the red carpet the hosts talked with the stars who already made it to the stage. I did hear a bit, but a lot not with all the shouting (myself and the others). So I also have to rewatch the broadcast, to hear what they were saying.

When all stars had come through, the hosts went onto the red carpet to hand out tickets to the screening (with the stars). No ticket for me, but that isn't too bad, since I will be seeing a double screening tonight.

And they had some gold coins from Smaugs hoard to hand out. One of those I really wanted... but didn't get it.
Oh well, not that bad. I had an amazing time.

This was so much better than the one I had seen online from LA. Of course being there always gives a different feel. But here the emphasize was on the public and the stars, not the hosts.

And after that, standing on my feet for 13 hours, I was just glad to be able to sit down, give my feet a rest, go through my pictures. And now, on my way home from Berlin (hello 6 hour train ride) writing this.

It really was amazing. Wellington was a wee bit better with the location, the weather and the amount of dwarves present. But this was an amazing experience.

Any questions, feel free to ask!

Weta Workshop

For fans of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (and much more movies) they are also known as the Wizards of Weta. They know how to make dreams come to life.

Founded over 25 years ago by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger, started in their own flat. By now they are world famous for what they do best, creating dreams.

I've had the pleasure of meeting people from Weta at conventions. And they all talk with the same passion, enthousiasm and love for their work.
And I have been able to visit the Weta Store and the Window on the Workshop. To really be where the magic happens. To see people from Weta create new figurines. 

This short movie "A Single Dream" shows what I think is Weta: love and craftsmenship.

Weta as a company tells a very strong story. Which they show in everything they do. From contact with their fans online, in the store or at conventions, to what they make and how they let the world know they are so very proud of what they do. I'm a big fan!

Monday, 9 December 2013

I see fire

Hobbit week at Story time
Ed Sheeran wrote the theme song for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smoke after seeing the movie. He uses the quote Richard Armitage (Thorin) said to be his favourite of the entire movie: "If this is to end in fire, than we shall all burn together." 

I have not yet seen the movie, but from this song there will be a very sad ending, with lots of fire and probably a lot of damage (I saw a city burning). And all from the perspective of the dwarves. Since he sings about my brothers and Durin's folk.

Take a listen (or a few more, that's okay, I have him on repeat...)

And I will let you know later, when I have seen the movie, if I think the song fits the movie. Or you may tell me, what do you think?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Traveling through images

Murad Osman is a photographer. 
His girlfriend is a model. 
Together they travel the world.

And he takes pictures of her leading him by the hand on their travels.

Below a few of his images.

But go to his website, so see how he tells their story of world travel.