Tag Archive: The Hobbit


Captain America Agent Coulson cards

What better item to take to a convention to get Chris Evans’s autograph than a set of Agent Coulson’s Captain America trading cards–vintage and near mint, as Coulson bragged in the movie The Avengers.  Next month you’ll be able to land your own collectible set of the cards designed from the original digital images used in the film.  And that’s not all that is coming your way if you like collectible trading cards or playing cards from your favorite movies and TV shows.

In fact you can pre-order the set now here from Entertainment Earth, including both a near mint set and the bloodied Captain America cards resulting from Coulson’s death scene.  The set comes with its own display folder.  It’s scheduled to ship in April.

Coulson and his cards    Coulson cards

While you’re at it you can pick up a deck of the Tall Card game inspired from the game played on board the Serenity in Firefly.  You can pre-order it from Entertainment Earth here.  That game includes those recognizable round cards you remember from the TV series.  It also is scheduled to ship in April.

Tall Card Firefly screen shot  Firefly Tall Card Game

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Hobbit Art & Design cover fifth volume

Review by C.J. Bunce

A wealth of concept art for The Hobbit can be found in the fifth volume of Weta’s Chronicles series: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Art & Design.  Writer and Weta artist and designer Daniel Falconer again delivers a stunning hardcover account of the behind-the-scenes artistry that forged the last of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth series.

Including much more pencil sketchwork and inspirations for the cities of The Hobbit than prior volumes, this edition showcases many designs that made it into the final film but also many that did not.  It’s those pieces that did not make it to the final cut of the film that form a rare treasure trove here.  As costume designer Bob Buck writes in he book, “The designs that were never realized are as important as the ones that were, being part of the process and representing the elimination or germination of an idea that grew into the visuals as seen on the screen.”  Buck provides valuable insight into the ideas behind many of the costumes in the film along with many other Weta designers and special effects artists, including concept art director John Howe.

HobbitBotFAChroniclesArtandDesigng4

Highlights of this volume give a detailed look at concept sketchs and paintings from Weta Digital, 3Foot7, and Weta Workshop of Galadriel’s Maxfield Parrish-esque costume design development from her descent into Dol Guldur, and the ghostly dead Ringwraith kings and the Necromancer, who at many times appeared as if he could have been designed by Bernie Wrightson or Frank Frazetta.  Costume designs featured include the elegant Thranduil, Elven soldiers, Bard, an unused but brilliant set of armor for Stephen Fry’s mayor of Lake-town, and every angle and type of Dwarf you could imagine.  Not surprisingly, it is the culture and artistry of Dwarves that fill the bulk of the pages here.

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The Missing Starz

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s difficult to pinpoint the fine line between a run-of-the-mill, contemporary real-life drama and a good thriller.  If it’s dry and boring, we give it the label of “drama” and are happy to skip over it.  But if it has a mystery or action component and something special, then we sometimes take a closer look.  Case in point: The Starz British-produced mini-series The Missing, which was just renewed for a second season.  The “something special” is a handful of actors we’ve seen in great genre film and TV.

If you can get past the dreary sounding plot–a real-life drama about the kidnapping of a British boy vacationing with his parents in France–you’re in for a compelling suspense-thriller on par with the best police procedurals, like the BBC’s Zen or the original Law and Order.

Hobbits dwarves Nesbitt and Stott in The Missing

Another British mini-series, Broadchurch, repackaged for U.S. audiences as Gracepoint, had much in common with The Missing, at least on paper.  Broadchurch starred Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Darvill, and Attack the Block and Marchlands’ Jodie Whitaker and also followed a crime about a little boy in a small community.  The Missing features two actors who starred as dwarves in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series, James Nesbitt, who played Bofur, and Ken Stott, who played Balin.  Mr. Selfridge and Timeline’s versatile actress Frances O’Connor plays the mother of the missing son, wife to Nesbitt’s determined and grim father.  A similar crime and genre actors are where the similarities end.  Where Broadchurch settled in as a passable melodrama, The Missing becomes a rich, engrossing, addictive tour of a place no one would want to go in real life.

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Hobbit Marathon poster

Fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth series will have an opportunity to see the last installment of his six-film cycle two days in advance of the scheduled national release date.  Sure to be the biggest film of the year, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will round out a day-long marathon beginning at 12:30 p.m. local time around the country on Monday, December 15, 2014.  The national release is Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

AMC Theaters, Cinemark Theaters, and other theater chains are continuing the recent tradition of hosting blockbuster marathons including events for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Avengers Marathon, The Die Hard Marathon, and The Dark Knight Trilogy.

HobbitMarathon CW

Attendees will receive a commemorative lanyard and one of three posters created for the marathon.

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hobbit-battle-five-armies-gandalf-poster    hobbit-battle-five-armies-thorin-poster

What a long strange, fantastical trip it’s been.

Just over 14 years ago, Peter Jackson filmed the first scenes of his The Lord of the Rings trilogy–the first live-action effort to capture J.R.R. Tolkien’s complex series of novels.  Never before had anyone taken on a movie project so daunting.  Just look at photos of Jackson then and now and you can see a bit of how the director’s life has changed.

The culmination of his efforts was reached in 2006 as the series approached $3 billion in gross receipts, then its last entry Return of the King tied the record for Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and Titanic taking eleven Academy Awards, and sealing its status as fantasy royalty by taking the Best Film category.

hobbit-battle-five-armies-tauriel-poster    the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-poster-thranduil

And so the success of The Lord of the Rings propelled a series for The Hobbit novel adaptation forward.  And the end is only a month away.  The bittersweet reality of the beckoning end permeates the last trailer we will see for this landmark series of films.  With this trailer we’re left with the gloom and darkness where this story must end.

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Hobbit Smaug Unleashing the Dragon cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

To learn what advancements are happening in technical moviemaking, you can always turn to Weta Workshop and Weta Digital.  For the latest in cutting edge film work, you need only turn to the latest book on The Hobbit film series from Weta, its step by step chronicle of the development of the greatest dragon in all of fantasy, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon.  As a supplement of sorts to their grand Chronicles series detailing the creative story of The Hobbit, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon is the first look at a single element of the franchise, peeling back the development of one character in all its tiny details and from all vantage points.

A smaller dimension book at 8×10 inches compared to the double size and thickness of the Chronicles series, this format is well suited for similar spin-off works–perhaps a single book on each race in Middle-earth one day?  But like its counterparts, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon is dense in both text and photos.  Every designer, art director, sculptor, modeller, texture artist, and animator that provided new ideas and elements to arrive at the final creature offer commentary about their thought process and their collaboration with others.

Smaug Unleashing the Dragon excerpt

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The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers

Review by C.J. Bunce

How often have you wished you had access to detailed photographs of the costumes and props of your favorite sci-fi or fantasy franchise?  Maybe for making your own costume, or maybe just to see up close what it might be like to be the actor wearing that cloak or holding that sword?  Covering both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Weta Workshop has managed to top its previous accounts of the making of The Hobbit series with its fourth deluxe hardcover work, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers.

Daniel Falconer, Weta Workshop senior concept designer and creator of this latest behind the scenes account of Peter Jackson’s version of Middle-earth, first brought us The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Art & Design, then The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Creatures & Characters, and earlier this year, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Art & Design.  But this fourth book in the series is even better–packed full of photos and commentary by the art designers, costume designers, prop makers, costumers, actors and other crew members that created each new set, room,  world, civilian clothing, soldier armor, and each prop, be it elaborate or necessarily mundane.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page e The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page f

Costume designer Ann Maskrey recounts acquiring and modifying hundreds of fabrics for use when writer J.R.R. Tolkien may have given only little indication as to what an individual character or entire race of creatures should be wearing.

Bilbo and the Hobbits of the Shire, the Wizards Gandalf and Radagast, Thorin and his band of dwarves, Elves, Orcs and Humans, and key locations from the story–Mirkwood, Lake-Town and Dale–each gets several pages to highlight the detail required to visually build a world to make the fantastical believable.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page c The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page d

Hand-written letters, books, maps, and signage of various fonts, food, tables, rugs and chairs, purses, swords, hats, buttons and clasps, cloaks and boots, staves, belts and buckles, vambraces, lanterns, instruments of all kinds, knits and macramé, pipes and axes, armor and maille, helmets, wigs, and beards, metalwork, glassware, silks, and saddles, rings and The One Ring–every element is covered by subject, and yet even this exhaustive volume only scratches the surface of what was required for the films, according to the book’s contributors.  And endless close-ups of fabric swatches and the actual costumes, giving readers an almost hands-on experience with the design, construction, and fabric selection process.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page a The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Cloaks & Daggers page b

Because of the nature of The Hobbit tale and its many named Dwarves, the Dwarves get the most elaborate costumes of any race of the five Middle Earth movies created thus far.  The designs on each piece of armor, each metal fitting, scale maille, and leather work is simply stunning.  And if you’re a fan as much as we are of Sylvester McCoy’s wizard Radagast, you’ll be amazed to learn how his seemingly ripped, worn, and ratty apparel actually includes multiple layers of the finest fabrics, embroidery, and exquisite trim.

Originally released just weeks ago in a limited signed edition, the same exact edition minus the autographs can be purchase through Weta in New Zealand directly here and through Amazon.com here.  The last entry in the Peter Jackson six-film Middle-earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, will be released in theaters December 17, 2014.

Dwarves The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

While DC Comics fans were waiting for an online release to surface from Comic-Con of a teaser for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which doesn’t arrive for two more years and still hasn’t made it to the Web, Warner Bros. and MGM released a giant preview for the last film in The Hobbit trilogy–the last of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy J.R.R. Tolkien series.

With a great title that seems to fit the dark and violent scope of this last chapter, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies looks to be another winner.  In addition to the exclusive Comic-Con poster released earlier this weekend that we posted here, another version features Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies poster SDCC 2014

But this first preview… a peek at Smaug devastating Lake-Town…  War-goats!

War goats The Battle of the Five Armies The Hobbit

Thranduil in battle…  Thorin calls for war… Dark times are ahead for fantasy fans, and we can hardly wait.

Check out this first trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

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New Ben Affleck as Batman SDCC 2014

Whether or not major genre properties are hosting panels or booths at Comic-Con 2014, studios released some great images on Wednesday preview night and the first full day of the show yesterday.  The biggest is probably the above photo of Ben Affleck as Batman from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, not coming to theaters until 2016.  The image was nicely timed to the DC Comics celebration week for the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance.

Mad Max Fury Road poster SDCC 2014

Warner Bros. also released the first poster for the latest movie in the Mad Max series, to star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.  It’s called Max Max: Fury Road, and won’t hit theaters until next year, but that didn’t stop releasing some advance images from the film, including this image of Theron:

Charlize Theron Mad Max Fury Road SDCC 2014

and this image of some post-apocalyptic recycling of cars:

Max Max Fury Road screencap

The Amblin Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Universal sequel to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic World, netted us a teaser poster for the June 2015 release:

SDCC 2014 Jurassic World poster reveal

Jurassic World will star Chris Pratt, star of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which also had a new poster reveal for its IMAX 3D version:

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Hobbit Chronicles Smaug Art and Design cover

The latest installment in Weta Workshop’s hardcover series focusing on the art and design of The Hobbit movies provides the most-in-depth look yet at the developmental stages of bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world to the big screen.  Through hundreds of pencil sketches, detailed accounts of the thoughts behind decisions, painted concept art and costume development, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles–Art & Design provides a comprehensive account of the mastery in bringing ideas to life.

The structure of the book follows our heroes’ journey through the film, in chapters like “Queer Lodgings” (Beorn the Skin-Changer’s house), “Flies & Spiders,” “The Woodland Realm” (the elves), “A Ruined form of Life” (the Orcs), and “Inside Information” (all about Smaug).  Each chapter provides a focused look at the unique worldbuilding for each disparate part of the film, from set design to backstory to costumes.  Many chapters offer better looks at details that were only glimpsed briefly in the film, like the city of Dale in its heyday, seen onscreen only in flashback.  It’s an opportunity for those parts of the filmmaking–given just as much thought and work as anything in the movie–to be seen and admired in their full glory.

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A chapter on the Elves of Mirkwood showcases the costumes for King Thranduil, Legolas, and Tauriel, as well as the woodland realm where the dwarves are imprisoned during the film.  There’s a special focus on the wine cellars where the dwarves make their dramatic barrel escape.  Much time is given to the development of Tauriel, a new character created for the movie. Comments from Evangeline Lily (Tauriel) provide insight into her character: “Tauriel had to embody the grace of Galadriel and Arwen, while representing the fighting stealth and power of Legolas and Elrond.”

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