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Tag Archive: Ian McKellen


4 X-men of the futureFor Marvel Comics and X-Men fans, the next in the line of X-Men movies to hit the big screen looks to be an epic production, starring the stars of the first three X-Men and Wolverine movies and the younger stars of X-Men’s past in X-Men: First Class.  Not only does that mean Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, and Ellen Page are back, but we get to meet new characters, too, including Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, Omar Sy as Bishop, Booboo Stewart as Warpath, Bingbing Fan as Blink, and Adan Canto as Sunspot.

 

Check out this first full-length trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past:

We have a long wait for this one.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for release in theaters May 23, 2014.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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Armitage as Thorin

At last we get to see a few moments of Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins facing off against the dragon named Smaug (that’s pronounced “smOWg” not “smog,” per Bilbo) in the full-length trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, part two of the three-part epic movies series that began last winter with the brilliant The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Even better, we get to hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s chilling, dragon-toothed lines as he seeks out Bilbo in his lair.

Surprisingly, we see a lot of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas opposite newcomer Lost’s Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in this trailer–likely indicating the elves will play a large role in Peter Jackson’s expanded vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel.  Another newcomer, Luke Evans, who plays Laketown human Bard the Bowman, also looks to be a key character.

Mountain Dwarf

Richard Armitage is back as dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield, along with Ian McKellen as Gandalf.  Wonderfalls’ Lee Pace returns as Elvenking Thranduil and Ken Stott as elder dwarf Balin.  The nasty Orc Azog is back, too, played again by Manu Bennett, who we met as Slade Wilson in CW’s Arrow TV series this year.

Check out this great trailer for The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug:

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Dwarves and mountain

At last!  For those of us who thought The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was the best genre film of 2012, we now have reason to get excited about Part 2 of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, with Warner Bros. releasing the first trailer a few hours ago.  The theme for the first trailer is Elves–and we finally get our first look at Lost star Evangeline Lilly as the Elf called Tauriel.  And she looks awesome, wielding bow and arrow, dressed in green with great red hair.  Orlando Bloom is back, too, as Legolas, along with Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Ken Stott as the wise old dwarf Balin.  It’s also our first look at Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman, and the CGI Smaug the dragon, although we don’t hear Benedict Cumberbatch yet as the voice of the dragon.

This is the part of The Hobbit where we meet Shelob the giant creepy spider–long before she meets up with Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.  And we get to see the great river barrel ride of the Dwarves, that Peter Jackson previewed for fans in a series of videos last year here.  And what’s more fun than a barrel of Dwarves?

Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit

So wait no longer–enjoy the first trailer released for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

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Dr Who Xmas Special poster

Premiering tomorrow night on BBC America is the annual Christmas Special and this year’s show is also the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who with new Jenna-Louise Coleman playing Clara Oswin, the new companion to Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor.  (Actress Jenna-Louise Coleman played the character earlier this year in the episode “Asylum of the Daleks,” but was not yet his companion).  As has been a tradition in Britain for years, BBC America is presenting the Doctor Who Christmas Special to U.S. fans again this year, airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Eastern, subtitled “The Snowmen.”

Dr Who special 1

BBC America released two previews for the Special, the first a longer preview “prequel/minisode” introduced by Smith and Coleman, and a second more standard teaser revealing guest star Richard E. Grant (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Bob Cratchitt in Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol, and voiced the Doctor in Scream of the Shalka), and the familiar voice of The Hobbit’s Gandalf and X-Men’s Professor X, Ian McKellen.  Liz White, who played Annie in one of our all-time favorite series, Life on Mars, will also be in this year’s Christmas Special.

Here is the longer prequel you won’t see with the episode on BBC America:

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Hobbit still

By C.J. Bunce

Director Peter Jackson could have sat back with his Academy Awards for the brilliant The Lord of the Rings trilogy and relished in what he had done.  Instead he took on the risk of conquering Middle Earth again, and in doing so he did something I’ve never seen anyone do before, make a fourth entry into a major movie franchise that surpassed all prior films.  And that’s a hefty feat considering what The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is being compared to.  But in end-to-end storytelling, cinematography, casting, acting, adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s source work, spirit and heart, this first installment of The Hobbit trilogy can’t be beat.

Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins presents a Hobbit in goodness on par with Samwise and with a strength of purpose on par with the King of Gondor.  You cannot rave enough about Martin Freeman’s facial expressions and movements as the put-upon Hobbit.  Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield pulls together the best of Faramir and Aragorn, yet his characterization is fully fleshed out in its own right with a brilliantly laid out character arc that took Aragorn three movies to achieve.

Merry band

It is hard to believe that someone can take a band of 13 dwarves and make most of them individually compelling.  You may get lost in Ken Stott’s wise old dwarf Balin and forget he is a dwarf–this wise soul and sturdy character speak loudly throughout the story.  Aidan Turner’s cocky and plucky Kili will make you laugh at every turn in the way we saw Merry and Pippin in the LOTR movies.  And the nature of The Hobbit story targeted as a younger audience vs the themes of The Lord of the Rings books means many more comical moments here, despite a dark and eerie adventure.  Peter Jackson’s film looks so good that he makes it all look so easy.

Ian McKellan’s Gandalf the Grey is back, and you only wish we could see ten more adventures featuring the best wizard ever presented on-screen.  We also meet a friendlier Elrond of the Elves played again by Hugo Weaving.  An “epilogue” featuring Elijah Wood and original Bilbo actor Ian Holm at the movie’s beginning bridges The Hobbit right up to the scene before Frodo first meets up with Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring.  We also meet Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel again.  Although it is likely these LOTR characters were not needed for this movie, it’s a fun reunion for fans of the earlier films, and it also allows us an excuse to see the splendor and hear the sounds of nature at New Zealand’s Hobbiton.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The 3D imaging and cinematography surpass any film to date in pretty much every way.  Where CGI characters in all past sci-fi and fantasy franchises never quite got right the realism of key characters or at best “almost” got it right, you will not see the same odd movements or doubt the believability of these unreal creatures, especially Barry Humphries’ (Dame Edna!?) Great Troll.  And Andy Serkis’s Gollum looks even better than he did before.

Classic scenes from the original novel, like the arrival of the dwarves at Bilbo’s house and the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum are just simply perfect.  Special effects and new film wizardry present too many examples of incredible cinema to list, but even something as simple as feeling like you’re sitting across the table from a bunch of dwarves is better than the effects of most other films.  Then there are other scenes, like the delicate carrying across a canyon of a wounded dwarf by a giant eagle’s talons, that reflect a fillmaking magic act in and of itself.

Balin

Although some may see the beginning half of the movie as slow, the measured pace will be savored by others, and the pace allows you to see every axe swing in each action scene instead of the blurred battles in most recent action movies.  You can also admire the stitches and buttons and armor of the costumes, the excellent crafted props like smartly forged swords and a key to a hidden door, as well as the stunning environments, including a return to the beautiful waterfalls at Rivendell.  The story then propels at a breakneck pace to the end, including overhead scenes of the band of dwarves as they move through mountain passes, and we meet a quirky and noble new wizard named Radagast the Brown played by Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor!) and his speedy team of sled rabbits who lead a mercenary pack of trolls and wolves away from the story’s heroes on their quest.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo

Two singing numbers by the elves are surprisingly good, one upbeat and one not, and the filmmakers use the more somber, reverent tune by the dwarves in a more upbeat version for the film’s end credits–and it’s a great song.

You’ll want to see this first of three installments of The Hobbit again and again.  The only negative:  the next installment, subtitled The Desolation of Smaug, is not out until December 13, 2013.

By C.J. Bunce

Fantasy movies have been around since the beginning of cinema itself.  The earliest filmmakers themselves were magicians of sorts, and what better way to dazzle an audience than show them something amazing and… unbelievable.  But it’s not until the last ten or so years that fantasy was fully realized, rich and realistic, with classic stories finally matching the imaginations of decades of readers.  There are of course exceptions.  Big ones even.  Like The Wizard of Oz.  Only The Lord of the Rings trilogy gives The Wizard of Oz a run for its money, but does any single LOTR film compare to the one, classic Oz?   I think that film still holds up today against any other film made since.

This is the first of four articles where each of the borg.com writers discusses their “ten favorite fantasy films” as we did with our favorite Halloween films last fall.  Note this is a favorites vs. a “best of” list.  We may have to do a “best of” list later, but “best of” lists are everywhere and often look exactly alike.  When you’re discussing “favorite fantasy films” as opposed to “the best” you are bound to see some of the best films straddle both lists.  But “favorites” lists allows you to fold in guilty pleasures, and maybe those films that, as quality is concerned, don’t hold their own to today’s audiences, considered from a more objective standard.  Hopefully you can pick up a fantasy film or two you either haven’t heard of or haven’t seen yet.

What is fantasy?  Our criteria was that there should be some element of magic in the film, and that the film wouldn’t better fit in another genre list like sci-fi or horror, etc.

Exclusions

My list excludes several genre films that could arguably fall into a fantasy list.  I’ll save holiday fantasies like Elf and Miracle on 34th Street for another day.  I also did not include superhero movies or action/adventure films, which I see as their own separate genres, or historical fiction, like Braveheart, despite that film often topping fantasy genre lists.  Finally, I have not included movies that are also predominantly science fiction, otherwise the “greatest space fantasy of all time”–Star Wars, would be on the list.  So my goal is including only “plain old classic fantasy movies.”

Honorable Mentions that made nobody’s Top 10

Because you can’t just list your top ten (why leave it at that?) I want to mention a few films that would have made the list before the advent of modern big fantasy films.  Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal stood by itself for a time as real, incredible fantasy, with strange creatures and places.  This film, and the strange Labyrinth, were the kind of romping fantasy that seemed to skip by an entire generation of baby boomers.  Goonies is sure to make a favorites list for me but I am not sure there is any magic there to technically merit placing on a fantasy list.  Great acting by Dennis Quaid and a great dragon voiced by Sean Connery made Dragonheart a solid fantasy film that was easy to watch over and over, and City of Ember and the better than average Disney film The Sorceror’s Apprentice with Nicholas Cage are newer fantasy films that I liked a lot but haven’t re-watched enough to have it make my list–yet.   I’d watch any of those films again today.  It’s the “over and over again watching” that I looked toward to finally nail down the order of my top ten.  So here it is, from 10 to my current favorite at the number one spot:

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.  What defines fantasy as a genre is the presence of the magical or supernatural.  Captain Jack Sparrow is a dead pirate captain, like the ghost pirate we loved in Scooby Doo, and what Lord of the Rings: Return of the King revealed to be that production’s coolest creation, the brilliantly executed army of the dead.  From a completely over-the-top but cool performance by Johnny Depp to a fun voyage, a great ship, and a whole stew of solid actors, Pirates is fun fantasy in a historical setting, with a rousing soundtrack by Klaus Badelt that will stick in your head long after the credits have rolled.

9.  Alice in Wonderland.  I’ve never been much of a fan of Tim Burton’s unique style, until I was blown away by his take on this classic story.  Burton was born to create Wonderland for movie audiences.  Johnny Depp is completely mad as the Hatter, Anne Hathaway perfectly cast as the White Queen, and Helena Bonham Carter vile and insane as the Red Queen.  They also went all out with voice work for the digital characters with Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, Christopher Lee, and Michael Gough all supplying great characterization.  Beyond stunning visuals and sets, the story masterfully blends Alice in Wonderland with other works of Lewis Carroll as if they always belonged together.  Burton’s audacity pays off and Alice can be watched again and again, each time finding incredible nuances.  Burton joined Peter Jackson and Victor Fleming in an exclusive club of masters of the most classic of fantasy books to make it to screen.

8.  Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  This movie was written and created to get it into theaters as quickly as possible, in only a matter of literally weeks.  So how can such a thrown-together film stand the test of time?  I give a lot of credit to Kevin Costner as a believably viable, yet oafish and sincere Robin.  His merry men are all well cast.  And we got to see Alan Rickman as the most classic of villains, playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham.  One of the best surprise endings gives us Sean Connery as we’d like to see him in an entire feature-length role (The achingly, poorly cast First Knight didn’t cut it, unfortunately).  Who cares if the cast isn’t British and their costumes don’t make much sense?  OK, this wouldn’t make any “best of” list, but I love watching it whenever it is on TV so it belongs right here.  And it also has a great soundtrack by Michael Kamen.

7.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  In one sense, taking away the last three Harry Potter films, which to me are lesser works, the first five all sort of merge together–except for the story of Azkaban.  Professor Lupin is probably the best of Harry’s professors, and his greatest role model is Sirius Black.  Of all the Harry Potter films this is the only one I will stop and watch again.  It’s a standout film in the biggest mega-fantasy franchise ever.  Here you have cool tools of fantasy like the Marauder’s Map and Hermione’s time-turner.  And the Dementors are rivaled in their quiet dark creepiness only by the Nazgul from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  And although there are some minor story problems involving the time-turner and the killing of an innocent with little commentary, the digital realization of a Hippogriff named Buckbeak becomes one of the best executed fantasy animals ever.  John Williams was able to make a throughly creepy mood with his darkest (and final) Harry Potter soundtrack here.

6.  Field of Dreams.  “If you build it, he will come.” “It’s not heaven, it’s Iowa.”  Not only did Field of Dreams give us some of the best catch phrases ever, it got people who don’t like baseball to like baseball (me included).  Of all the ten movies on my list, Field of Dreams may be the most transformatively magical, and possibly the most unique because it is so off-the-wall.  How did anyone sell this as a movie?  Ghostly baseball players coming out of a cornfield to get in another game of baseball?  The one-two punch of Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones (and Burt Lancaster!) put this film up with Jaws as a film that you can’t walk away from once you start watching it, even for the 100th time.

5.  The Jungle Book.  Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book of stories called The Jungle Book included the story of Mowgli, and that story comes alive in a very wonderful way in 1967’s Disney animated movie.  Mowgli’s life is the ultimate in escapes from reality for young viewers.  Who wouldn’t want to be raised by wolves?  Who wouldn’t want a giant friend who was a bear, and a wise advisor who is a black panther?  The music made the simply detailed animation more frolicking and fun.  And even the sinister villain, the tiger Shere Khan, need not meet his end in this film in order to round out a well told story of friendship, manipulation, and trust.  And the hypnotic Kaa remains unmatched as the clever manipulator until we meet Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. 

4.  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  What’s the best of the three movies of Middle Earth?  My hope is one of the two movies being made right now into The Hobbit series.  I have issues with both Fellowship of the Ring and even more issues with The Return of the King, but it all amounts to nitpicking.  As a series, it is the best fantasy series ever.  As stand alone film, The Two Towers makes my list for the same reason The Empire Strikes Back would trump the other Star Wars films.  Introductions of incredible places, like Rohan.  And where my eyebrows wrinkled at killing off Gandalf the White in Fellowship of the Ring to only bring him back with a different name, Gandalf the Grey knows how to lead an army into battle at Helm’s Deep.  My favorite character of the series gets a full story arc here–the classically regal and noble yet flawed Theoden King, leader of Rohan.  The brother of the frustrating Boromir is introduced as David Wenham’s Faramir, who both kidnaps and then frees the traveling Hobbits.  Merry and Pippin recruit the help of the awesome Ents–talking, walking trees that march into battle to protect what is theirs (also seen in The Wizard of Oz).  Although the main journey of Frodo and Sam and Gollum finds them moving from point B to point C in this installment, the real adventure is what happens to the other six remaining members of the Fellowship.  Whereas at the end of Return of the King the several denouements had me cheering for Gollum, in The Two Towers the excitement and pacing was just right, leaving audiences hungry for more at the end.

3.  The Muppet Movie.  A perfectly magical film.  Jim Henson can’t be overstated as sitting among the kings of creating the fantastical.  The Muppets had already been known to us through The Muppet Show, yet this movie brought laugh out loud humor to a fully realized classic hero’s journey–a drive from the East Coast to Hollywood.  With a frog and a pig and a bear and a dog and what the heck are all those other guys like Beaker and Animal and …?  Not since It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World had Hollywood comic actors united behind a single important film with too many cameos to count, and all brilliantly funny.  I like all the Muppet movies but this remains my favorite.  We don’t analyze it but Henson did the unimaginable by making fabric characters as real as any human in any film and without the realism required by all other fantasy films of make-believe characters.  Instead it just has a lot of honesty and heart, to make this movie beloved by audiences for generations to come.

2.  The Wizard of Oz.  I have likely seen only Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, the Star Trek films, and Jaws more times than The Wizard of Oz over the years.  Before video tape and DVDs I remember watching once a year on a Sunday night when The Wizard of Oz was re-broadcast, waiting to watch closely again to see how they changed from a black and white Kansas farm to the technicolor land of Oz.  Along with The Jungle Book, I watched this film as a young kid (unlike 8 other films on this list that came much later) and saw first-hand what magic in fantasy was all about.  So many elements make this movie work, many from the source story by L. Frank Baum, like the long journey leading back home.  A giant village of extras with the Munchkins.  Crazy scary flying monkeys and arguably the best villain ever filmed in both the Wicked Witch of the West and the equally evil Miss Gulch.  Good costumes from 1939 meant we didn’t need CGI or animation–the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion are all believable and real.  And of course the soundtrack and songs are unmatched and memorable, led by a perfect performance by the young Judy Garland.  The Wizard of Oz is the Citizen Kane of the fantasy genre.

1.  The Golden Compass.  A perfect, elaborate fantasy story in an incredible, new parallel universe of Earth.  A perfect cast.  Beautiful, unreal sets.  Historically inspired costumes that span different worlds.  Special effects that merge reality and fantasy seamlessly.  An often overlooked brilliant fantasy masterwork.  When I first saw this I instantly thought this was the finest, most enjoyable fantasy film I’d ever seen.  If all steampunk was this good I would be a true believer.  Look at the cast:  A stately Daniel Craig’s Lord Asriel, a beautifully striking but sinister Nicole Kidman’s Ms. Coulter, the perfect helpers along the voyage in Sam Elliot’s Lee Scoresby and Eva Green’s Serafina, smaller roles with gravitas by Derek Jacobi and Christopher Lee, and stellar voiceovers by Kathy Bates, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Ian McKellen.  The design work is lavish with a textbook fantasy component talisman in the magical alethiometer, animals that share your journey and wear armor into battle with you.  Gyptians!  Flying witches with bows and arrows.  A cool airship.  A big, exciting ride.  What more could anyone want?

One big element I see across my list?  Talking animals (and other things that don’t normally talk like trees and cornfields and dead people) are in 9 of my picks.  Also, I must like Christopher Lee and Alan Rickman who show up in three films, and Johnny Depp, Ian McKellen, and Kevin Costner show up in two films.  Tomorrow… come back for day two of our favorite fantasy films and click on the Comments to let us know your favorites.

It is likely that no filmmaker today shares more with his fans than Peter Jackson.  And there may be no fan base more loyal and appreciative than fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and its coming two-part production of The Hobbit.  Instead of waiting for the DVD release Jackson has been releasing early looks at the filmmaking process at thehobbitblog.com.  Now halfway through production of the two films–The Hobbit–An Unexpected Journey, due at year-end, and The Hobbit–There and Back Again, due out in 2013–Jackson & Co. have crisscrossed New Zealand with two film crews, re-creating locations from the LOTR trilogy and filming in newly selected places, too.

Jackson has released six production videos, but the last two, including production video #6, released last week, immerse the viewer into the unreal, impossibly beautiful landscapes of mountains and snow-cover, rain, and the brightest greens found anywhere on the real Earth.  But beware, before watching the two on-location documentaries, you may decide to sell everything for plane tickets and a permanent move to New Zealand.

Beyond the first four documentaries, the two on-location productions are 12 minutes in length each, and despite Jackson stating  that he can’t show us much, we get to see Martin Freeman in costume as Bilbo Baggins discussing film locations, Ian McKellen (Gandalf) chatting up New Zealand, as well as a whole swarm of new actors of Middle Earth playing dwarves.  The vistas and villages almost make this documentary stand by itself as a mini-vacation.

The highlight of production video #5–the first on-location documentary–is Elijah Wood returning as Frodo Baggins at age 30 to Hobbiton–11 years after he first played Frodo at age 19.  The village of Matamata has been rebuilt since the LOTR films as a permanent encampment by the production for tourists to visit for years to come.

The new production video #6 shows ad hoc interviews with the new dwarf crew, as well as the second unit director, Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the LOTR films.  The production zigzags from town to town, with plenty of aerial shots showing the real locations and where they will end up in Middle Earth.

The 24 minutes of footage, along with soundtrack, has the feel of a travelogue of a national park like Yellowstone.  The humor of the crew and Raiders of the Lost Ark “travel by map” shots across the north and south islands of New Zealand also play better than the average DVD extra footage–something like Bruce Brown’s Australian film Endless Summer a free-wheeling surfing documentary classic from 1966.  Just like Endless Summer showed surfers traveling the world, the incredible opposites of grand landscapes of New Zealand reveal a world’s worth of differing ecology, geography, and seasons, that make New Zealand truly seem like a different world.  And the new actors give us a peek at how funny the new characters will be.

Here is the first on location documentary (production video #5):

And here is the new on location film (production video #6):

The earlier released production videos are available at thehobbitblog.com.

These video releases are fun and sure to whet the appetites of Tolkien fans until the December release, with more videos expected before then.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed this week that he has signed on to play the villain in the next Star Trek film, hopefully dispelling rumors once and for all that the prequel’s sequel won’t be about Khan, originally seen in Star Trek II.  Then again, he does look a bit like the crew stranded with Khan all those years on Ceti Alpha V…

  

Nah.  But it does make you want to get out the Photoshop and check out whether he makes a better Vulcan, Romulan or Klingon, or maybe J.J. Abrams will really mix things up and feature him as a member of The Borg.  And it puts the new Star Trek prequel’s sequel (say that ten times fast) in the #1 spot for most anticipated movie coming out in 2013.  (I think he’d make a great Romulan).

New Line Cinema only recently announced that Cumberbatch was going to be the evil voice of the Necromancer (and Smaug the dragon) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its sequel The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the former scheduled to be released in theaters in December.  Playing the villain in two of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy franchises is almost unprecedented.  Almost, because you have to consider fellow British actor Christopher Lee playing the villain Sauron in The Lord of the Rings and equally villainous Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels.  And then you have Karl Urban who played both Dr. McCoy in Star Trek 2009 and Eomer in The Lord of the Rings franchise, and Ian McKellen who played both Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Magneto in the X-Men movies, and John Rhys-Davies who played Gimli in The Lord of the Rings and Sallah in the Indiana Jones movies… on second thought scratch that “unprecedented” reference.  But that certainly is good company for Cumberbatch, who has spring-boarded into international celebrity in the past year.

His role as Sherlock Holmes in Doctor Who creator Steven Moffat’s BBC/Public Television’s Masterpiece Mystery series Sherlock first put Cumberbatch opposite The Hobbit star Martin Freeman.  Freeman has a similarly huge year coming as Bilbo Baggins in addition to reprising his Dr. Watson role.  In Sherlock, the classic detective is brought into the 21st century, but his skills and sleuthing is very familiar.  Masterpiece Mystery confirmed this week that the Sherlock series 2/season 2 is scheduled to begin this May, and that they plan to bring back Cumberbatch for a third year after season 2.

Since his first roles in 2002, including a small part in the BBC mini-series Tipping the Velvet with Ashes to Ashes/Identity star Keeley Hawes, Cumberbatch had memorable smaller parts in 2006’s Amazing Grace as William Pitt…

in 2008’s The Other Boleyn Girl as William Carey, and in 2011 he played Major Stewart in Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed film War Horse

and as Peter Guillam in this season’s spy thriller (opening in general release this weekend finally) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Cumberbatch joins the Enterprise crew from Star Trek 2009, Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, and former Robocop Peter Weller as a yet-to-be-named character in the yet-to-be-named new Star Trek film.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Just in time for Christmas!  Although we will have to wait an entire year, until December 14, 2012, to actually see the movie, New Line Cinema just released the trailer for the first part of the two-movie epic The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  You don’t have to wait any longer–watch it here:

Funnier than The Lord of the Rings trilogy, we get plunged right into introductions with all the stalwart but very typically chummy dwarves, courtesy of our favorite wizard, Gandalf the Grey, played again by the brilliant Ian McKellen.  Not as goosebump inspiring as the awesome trailer for The Lord of the Rings, it doesn’t show us a lot of new sets yet, but the dinner table scene at Bilbo’s looks great.

We did get to see the return of Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum, and Ian Holm as the older Bilbo Baggins.

Cast perfectly as the younger Bilbo Baggins is Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, BBC’s original The Office, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), and we get to see plenty of him in the trailer as the fidgety and typically very Hobbity worrier/soon-to-be adventurer.

But all is not humorous in The Hobbit story, as the plot centers around the re-taking of the The Lonely Mountain by the dwarves under Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage, Robin Hood, Captain America), exiled by a certain rare dragon named Smaug, to be voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).  The trailer tells this story via song, as sung by the dwarves.  But no peek at the dragon yet.

And if you don’t have all the dwarves straight yet, check out the photos of all of them that we previously posted here.

So what’s missing?  We’ve yet to see a glimpse of Hugo Weaving reprising his role as Elrond the Elf, Orlando Bloom reprising his role as Legolas the Elf, Christopher Lee reprising his role as the wizard Saruman, and newcomer to the series Evangeline Lilly (Lost) as Tauriel and Stephen Fry as the Master of Laketown, home of Bard, to be played by Luke Evans.

And now, as Mr. Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

 

Just hours ago Warner Brothers released the first look at the highly anticipated 2012 release The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  The first of a two-part movie adaptation of the first book of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien and follow-up to the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings series has had its ups and downs, first with doubts the movie would even get made, then with Peter Jackson (happily) replacing Guillermo Del Toro as director, then local worker hurdles to overcome earlier this year.  Current release date is December 2012, but it looks good so far and there will plenty of familiar faces and a few new residents of Middle Earth.

Martin Freeman, who just garnered a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor Award for playing Watson in the BBC’s brilliant Sherlock plays our hero Bilbo Baggins, and here is the first look from Warner Brothers:

Bilbo reviewing a long note after an unexpected visit from what turns into a houseful of dwarves…

And a more familiar face, the return of Gandalf the White (Ian McKellen):

…looking a bit concerned…

And a production photo of Peter Jackson and Martin Freeman:

And if that weren’t enough to whet our appetites, we have an early look at the several dwarves.

Nori, Ori and Dori:

Bifur, Bofur and Bombur:

Kili and Fili:

And Oin and my to-be favorite Gloin (I may have to adjust my Gimli outfit to match this father of Gimli):

Hopefully Warner Brothers will start to release photos more frequently as we get closer to the film’s release.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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