Tag Archive: Martin Freeman


Freeman Watson

Almost if to prove that they can do the original Sherlock Holmes better than Guy Ritchie’s 19th century film adaptations, showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are promoting the next episode of their Sherlock.  This time stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to the story’s roots instead of modern England, yet the latest trailer hints that they still live in a world well aware of Holmes’s crime-fighting fame.

“You’re Sherlock Holmes,” says Dr. Watson as he thrusts the famous deerstalker hat into Holmes’s hands, “wear the damned hat.”

The 19th century streets, the buildings, the entire environments are impeccable.  Would we rather have a Sherlock movie or a television series so long as either stars Cumberbatch and Freeman?  We may all answer “series” if only they could crank out more than three episodes every year or so.  But we’ll happily wait as we did for the equally good A&E Channel Horatio Hornblower episodes starring Ioan Gruffudd (Forever, Fantastic Four), Denis Lawson (Star Wars: A New Hope, Marchlands), Paul McGann (Doctor Who), David Warner (Tron, Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Time After Time), and Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) that arrived piecemeal in a series of eight TV movies between 1998 and 2003.

retro Sherlock

So check out the latest from Sherlock here:

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Sherlock clip

It’s Comic Con weekend so why not release a clip from the next episode of the BBC’s Sherlock?  That episode, featuring a throwback to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original incarnation of the world’s greatest detective and his trusty companion Dr. Watson, is going to air… well, someday.  Like Doctor Who, the only thing unanimous that we all hate about these productions from Steven Moffat & Co. is the fact that we never know when they will air and they simply produce too few episodes for audience demand.

Yet we still can count of each new episode to be great fun, and from this new clip Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will again be in prime form.

Check out this first preview from the BBC of the next episode of Sherlock, followed by a message for attendees of San Diego Comic-Con from stars Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Mark Gatiss:

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Sherlock-Christmas-Special-Images-Featuring-Benedict-Cumberbatch-and-Martin-Freeman1

Like all good things that get a hold on generations of audiences, Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective Sherlock Holmes has been interpreted and re-interpreted over and over.  For more than 110 years, Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson have appeared in more than 200 movies that adapted Doyle’s original stories–more than 70 actors have played Holmes–the most of any fictional character on-screen according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records.  Interest has never waned, and every new detective show and police procedural seems to borrow something from him, much like all science fiction seems to borrow something from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Batman was inspired by Holmes 75 years ago, and more recently TV series characters like Adrian Monk, Shawn Spencer, and Dr. Gregory House all were inspired incarnations of the character.

Modern Sherlock Cumberbatch as early Sherlock

Holmes was no bigger than with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law’s blockbuster films, Sherlock Holmes in 2009 and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows in 2011.  In that franchise director Guy Ritchie opted to showcase Holmes from Doyle’s original stories in his original setting of Victorian England.

Rivaling that series of movies after three seasons is BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson.  Here creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat take Holmes in a completely new direction, present day London, including the clever incorporation of modern technology into Holmes’s sleuthing.  Despite the updated setting Sherlock borrows the spirit of Holmes faithfully from Doyle’s stories.

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Review by Art Schmidt

Peter Jackson’s final installment of his screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit is a breathtaking piece of film which aspires to the almost insurmountable heights that his masterpiece The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King achieved.  The goal is a worthy, if almost unrealistic one, and Jackson spares no expense in trying to soar to those heights where he took us ten years ago.

I’m of two minds about this movie, and have been struggling to combine them into a single piece for you, our faithful readers.  But like Jackson with this trilogy, I am not quite up to the task.  And so, like Jackson, I will split something that should be in a single piece into multiple pieces, and although I am aware that they will likely not equal the sum of what a whole, single review should, I will try nonetheless because I have too much to say on the subject and am utterly unable to edit myself.  Much like a certain director we all know and admire.

Review by a fan of fantasy cinema

The Battle of the Five Armies is a really good film.  Is it great?  Well, that will be up to each viewer, honestly.  It is big and bold, and gives good screen time to the multitude of characters we have come to know over the course of the last two films in the trilogy.  The movie opens where the previous film left off, a different approach from other films in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, which tended to open with flashbacks or clever recaps to bring the viewer back into the world of Middle-earth which may have faded slightly since the previous film.  Not so here, as the audience is plunged directly into the story right where we exited it last year.

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The dragon Smaug, scary and crazy in the second Hobbit film which bears his name, is magnificently rendered and feels vibrantly alive in the dark theater, the screen aglow with dragonfire and the air electric with his howls of rage and vengeance.  Benedict Cumberbatch captures the right amount of menace and vanity, bringing the drake alive in ways that superb CGI just could not do on its own.  The poor people of Laketown would surely stand in awe of Jackson’s creation if they were not fleeing for their very lives before it.

Martin Freeman knows how to play the everyman, which is essentially what Bilbo Baggins represents.  An everyday man who is snatched up from his comfortable if boring life and thrown headlong into the exciting, unpredictable and oft-times dangerous unknown.  His subtlety and good humor shine through his portrayal of the Hobbit and it is to Freeman’s credit that he can simultaneously stand up to the chiefest and greatest of calamities and also stand up for himself to Thorin, pointing out the sickness that everyone else can see but dare not mention.  The dwarves are also a humorous, entertaining lot, but far too much time would be required to provide the multitude of them a lot of individuality or backstory.  The few who are selected for the spotlight are well worth the time.  Lee Pace, Richard Armitage and Luke Evans play three leaders of different races whose loyalties lie to their people but with widely different styles and personalities.  As with the previous films, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and even Christopher Lee as Saruman himself all put in appearances, though not in a way most might expect!

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Something looking not quite right in The Worlds End

Whether or not you’re a fan of British humor, like Monty Python or the comedy sitcom staples we get in the U.S. on public television, you will probably get plenty of laughs from the third entry in the Cornetto Trilogy.  Director/writer Edgar Wright, along with star and writer Simon Pegg, actors Nick Frost and Martin Freeman and many other actors from early entries in the comedy trilogy, deliver a singularly funny flick, better than you’d expect from the genre.

In the typical U.S. throwaway comedy movie about drinking and bar-hopping, the movie would be full of gross-outs and stupidity–anything–especially a shock–for a laugh.  Edgar Wright cares enough about his own career and his famous actor pals to keep the script funny without sitting back on base humor for the easy laugh.  And you don’t need to see earlier entries Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (but why wouldn’t you?).  The trilogy is about the creators, not the subject of the films.

The Worlds End Blu-ray and DVD US

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Martin Freeman in Fargo

Did you hear the one about the British actor who played a guy from Minnesooootah?

Following in the footsteps of the dark 1970 Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould comedy flick M*A*S*H, the Coen Brothers are taking their Oscar-winning script from their movie Fargo to the small screen, turning the setting into a new series on the FX Network.  An all-star cast will make TV viewers who might not have liked the Coen Brothers humor in the film give the idea another chance.

With an all-new “true crime” story with a new case and new characters, and that far-North Central U.S. accent that drifts from Wisconsin to Minnesota, The Hobbit and Sherlock star Martin Freeman will play a put-upon local who encounters a troublemaking outsider played by Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade).  Orange County star Colin Hanks plays a Duluth police deputy.  Other cast includes Allison Tolman, Oliver Platt (A Time to Kill, Beethoven), Keith Carradine (The Long Riders), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Brian Markinson (Arrow, Continuum), Kate Walsh (The Drew Carey Show), and Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, Zodiac).

Here’s the first seven minutes of the new series, Fargo:

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Sherlock scenery A

Review by C.J. Bunce

There’s got to be a reason that the third season premiere of BBC’s Sherlock was the most downloaded episode ever at Youku.com, a major source of streaming TV content in China.  Whether it’s the writing, the stunning movie-worthy cinematography, or the stellar cast you return for, Sherlock’s new season began with a gripping, emotional, and downright compelling opener.  Of course, like seasons one and two (the Brits call them series one and two), we only get three episodes this season.  Which begs the question:  What the heck is wrong with the Brits???  (Ahem, we mean that in the nicest way possible).

But seriously.  Probably the best TV series of all time, the original Life on Mars, lasted only three seasons.  Why???  The Hour got cancelled after two seasons.  Why???  And instead of series in the U.S. that may have 13 or more episodes a season, Sherlock has only three episodes.  Why???  Does the BBC not realize what a goldmine it has?  If the theory is that the three annual episodes are so brilliant because the BBC takes its time and can focus on only three episodes to make them so dazzling… well that’s just not good enough.  Let’s devote more resources to Sherlock and other superb British series.  Just look at Mr. Selfridge– it has ten episodes in the queue this season.  That’s more like it!

Holmes and Watson

OK enough ranting.  Steven Moffat has said “We think of them as films because they are ninety minutes long and once we knew we weren’t doing hour long episodes they needed to be on that sort of scale. They have to have the size and weight of a movie.”  Since it’s the great Mr. Moffat we’ll just let him have the last word.  Sherlock is must-watch television, period, so let’s move along.

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hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug Bilbo

Review by C.J. Bunce

Like Star Wars or the first of any good trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was almost a standalone story, to be watched over and over again.  And like The Empire Strikes Back, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug jumps rights into the adventure and doesn’t relent until the final cliffhanger at film’s end.  The Desolation of Smaug’s triumph may be a sweeping and epic inclusion of more fantastical settings and strange, new worlds than any film before it, some beautiful in their colorful grandeur, others in their dark creepiness.  And more story and subplots are fit in to keep viewers on the edge of their seats for the whole two hours and forty minute tour.

Dwarves The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

It’s hard to say if this installment of The Hobbit is better than the first.  It’s a wondrous tale in the same way as the Harry Potter series included the stand-out episode Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Sure, it needs to be seen in the context of what comes before it, but wow, what a great ride in and of itself, almost literally.  We’d seen previews of the great dwarf barrel escape scene, but director Peter Jackson didn’t just squeeze in river ride as an afterthought.  It’s full of good humor and action, something like what we imagine George Lucas intended in his pod race scene, but this effort is successful, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of dwarves and elves alike, as they dodge the grotesque and foul Orcs under the leadership of two particularly nasty fellows, Azog (Manu Bennett) and Bolg (Lawrence Makoare).  Most of the action is over-the-top, but if you’re in for a penny you’re in for a pound, and the arrows flying and dragon fire ablazing are what any fantasy fan could hope for.

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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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Sherlock Freeman moustache Watson

It’s pretty quick, but the BBC teaser trailer for Sherlock Season 3 reveals that Sherlock Holmes is alive and well despite the Season 2 cliffhanger (OK, duh), and we get to see Martin Freeman’s John Watson return (with moustache!), Una Stubb as landlady Mrs. Hudson, Louise Brealey as hopeless Sherlock fan/lab assistant Molly Hooper, and Mark Gatiss as brother Mycroft.

We were afraid that both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman might not return to Sherlock with their newfound Hollywood star power, with Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy.  And we were only a wee bit disappointed that the BBC didn’t tap Cumberbatch for the 12th Doctor, but we woke up and realized Cumberbatch can’t play every role out there, can he?

Three episodes are in the queue: “The Empty Hearse,” “The Sign of Three,” and “His Last Vow.”  Why, why, why can’t the Brits give us at least a 13-episode series???

Enjoy this teaser, complete with that excellent Sherlock theme music:

BBC has issued no release dates yet, in the UK or U.S., for the premier of Season 3.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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