Tag Archive: Peter Jackson


Review by C.J. Bunce

Prime Video’s much-anticipated, record-setting big-budget, eight-episode series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has arrived with not just one but two episodes available for its opening weekend.  Impossible not to compare and contrast with Peter Jackson’s six films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and its characters, the most striking difference is the deliberate, steady pace of this new story.  Carefully introducing lead character Galadriel and using two entire episodes to build the first trilogy character’s backstory, the quick pacing of the movies is only echoed by distant Hobbit relation the Harfoots, who are every bit as spunky as the Bagginses of Bag-end.  Future Elf-king Elrond firmly establishes stoic Elfdom literally thousands of years before The Hobbit, and viewers meet a Dwarf who would make Gimli proud many generations later.  But the best of the series may be its characters new to those who know only the players in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Continue reading

A week after its teaser, Prime Video revealed a new trailer for its eight-episode series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.  This time the focus is on Galadriel, the character played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson’s movies.  The series is a prequel, so the character is much younger, this time played by Swedish actress Morfydd Clark (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, His Dark Materials).

With more peeks into this Middle-earth, it’s hard to find much in common with Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning movie series.  The environments and effects don’t seem to keep up with the depths of the cinematic version of this world, despite its hefty budget.

Check it out for yourself.  Here’s the new trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

Continue reading

In post-production for its new eight-episode series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Prime Video revealed a new “teaser to a teaser” with a look at some of the series’ key characters.  Consistent with the idea of a “tease,” what has been billed as the most expensive series ever still hasn’t revealed much that ties the series to Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning movie series, but there are plenty of Elves, Ents, and a Dwarf or two.  It features a good look at star Benjamin Walker as Elf King Gil-galad.

Check out the latest teaser for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

Continue reading

Update: Check out our review of The Rings of Power here.  It actually exceeded our expectations despite not having the cinematic quality of Peter Jackson’s films.

The Lord of the Rings.  Vikings.  Game of Thrones.  If these shows define your expectation of cutting edge visuals for your favorite swords, armor, and fantasy property, you’re not alone.  In post-production for its new eight-episode series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Prime Video revealed 23 teaser posters for presumably the series’ key characters.  Consistent with the idea of a “tease,” what has been billed as the most expensive series ever made has opted to home in on the details of characters’ props and costumes rather than faces.  But the result is spectacularly… unspectacular.  Costume fabrics and trims look more off-the-rack than the hand-stitched costumes and individually-hammered and fastened scalemail of Peter Jackson’s movies.  And it is immediately obvious Weta Workshop didn’t make the props for this new series–the intricacy of that studios’ artisanal mastery in forging metal swords, armor, and jewelry could not be confused with what is featured in these posters, which at first blush is more like Legend of the Seeker, Shannara Chronicles, or The Tudors.  So what did the studio spend its money on?

Continue reading

Underexposed cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Stanley Kubrick’s The Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles.  Peter Jackson’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.  George Miller’s Justice League.  Robert Rodriguez’s Barbarella.  Shane Black’s The Monster Squad.  Two John Carpenter movies you’ve never seen.  If you’re wondering what the best movie was in any given year, you have plenty of options.  You can look for the movie that had the biggest take at the box office.  You can look to critic reviews.  You can scroll through the Internet Movie Database.  You can review awards lists or Alternate Oscars.  Or you can just watch the movies and choose for yourself.  Underexposed! The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made, a new book arriving this month from Abrams, could have been called False Starts–it’s a book about movies that almost made it to the big screen.

Underexposed 6A

Peppered with movie poster mock-ups from art group PosterSpy, filmmaker and film enthusiast Joshua Hull tracked down interesting histories of some of the best and most quirky movies that almost got made, but were either abandoned, had legal rights issues, lack of funding, lack of interest, or simply were not made to save audiences from a bad idea.  They aren’t from obscure creators, either.  The list includes projects from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg–and some are ideas that sound like they could have been pretty great.  What were they thinking?  Find out in this book.  

Continue reading

If you want to see a good argument for enforcing antitrust policy against mega-sized media corporations, here’s one.  Along with so many other change-ups, delays and cancelations, add Fox’s big-(estimated $170 million) budget Mouse Guard movie to the list.  The writer, artist, and visionary creator of the Mouse Guard universe, David Petersen announced the news back in April, two weeks before the scheduled filming date.  Reportedly Disney directed new subsidiary Fox to cancel the film.  No reasons were announced, but it’s difficult to surmise any reason other than a coordinated effort to own the theater box office with its own projects.  Just how much work had already been done?  How big was this film going to be?  Director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) and Petersen released two videos over social media this week (and more participants have since released even more great pre-production content) that paint a picture that will leave you feeling like audiences have been out-right robbed.

The first video includes a pan of the offices where the pre-production previz work was already completed, including miniatures, maquettes, dioramas, costumes, performance capture and CG-mock-ups, and thousands of pieces of compelling concept art lining the work area walls.  You really get a sense for what audiences will be missing with the second video, another development piece for sure, yet even as a demo or “sizzle reel,” anyone who is a fan of fantasy movies can see this was going to be something entirely new.  Matt Reeves (The Batman, Planet of the Apes reboots) was producing.  Artist Darek Zabrocki was one of many artists who created thousands of pieces of concept art (see above and below) to push the film forward (see Zabrocki’s Instagram account here for several images).  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story screenplay writer Gary Whitta′s script was in-hand (he’s now released it via his Twitter account for everyone to read here).  Composer John Paesano had his first theme in play with a warrior’s quest-evoking theme in a James Horner/Randy Edelman vibe (listen to it here).  It was all just ready for Weta to step in and take over with production, and wham, that House with the Mouse slammed the door.  But it looks like no other mice will suffice for Disney.  So Fox will either sit on the rights, sell them, or the rights will revert in a few years.  All these pre-production pieces will likely get warehoused until they get auctioned off for space reasons down the road as happens with studios (studio storage is expensive!), unless another studio or filmmaker steps in with some money (Peter Jackson?  Guillermo Del Toro?  The Jim Henson Company?).  But we seem to already be past the eleventh hour for that to have happened.  On the one hand, outsiders will never know why the decision was made, corporations make these calls for all sorts of business reasons.  But what is clear is that without the approval of that mega-merger of behemoth media empires, this expression, this idea, this story, this vision, would be coming to your local theaters soon.

Voice actors enlisted for the film included Idris Elba, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jack Whitehall, Samson Kayo, and Andy Serkis.  In the meantime, Petersen keeps creating, new Mouse Guard and other worlds.  Petersen’s comics and compilation hardcover editions, along with his version of The Wind and the Willows, are the picture books I have purchased more than any other for gifts–ever.  His artwork is fantastic, fantastical, and magical, and it came as no surprise when he announced a film in the works back in 2016.  Petersen’s Dark Crystal and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic cover art also has him as a contender for the year’s best cover artist.  Mouse Guard is one of those rare worlds in my lifetime that evokes the wonder of Jim Henson, the creativity of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the gravity and import of Mr. Rogers.

Enjoy the little of the film we get to see, these great videos released by Ball and Petersen:
Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Rarely has anyone been able to create a single work that includes so much information in such spectacular fashion about such an epic body of work.  Writer Daniel Falconer has done just that with Middle-earth: From Script to Screen–Building the World of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, his new 512-page, exhaustive, encyclopedic chronicle of the making of both of director Peter Jackson’s trilogies adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  Never before seen photographs, never before published recollections of cast and crew of the films that all-told would add up to nearly 24 hours of award-winning cinema, garnering seventeen Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings films and seven nominations for The Hobbit.  Weta Workshop’s Daniel Falconer, who has written some of the best-reviewed books we have looked at here at borg.com, catches up The Lord of the Rings to the coverage he has documented in his books on the making of The Hobbit trilogy, without providing any redundant content from his prior books, including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Art and Design, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles–Creatures & Characters, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers, The Hobbit, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Art & Design, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Art of War.  In doing so he has created the definitive resource for fans of the films, and fans of the Tolkien books now have a visual, fully-realized geographic resource guide to Middle-earth.

Beginning with a fabulous map of Middle-earth that includes cross-references to the pages of the book where each location is discussed, the reader can take his or her own tour across the film (and book’s) fantasy realm and real-life New Zealand filming locations.  The journeys of Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring from The Lord of the Rings and Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin and the other Dwarfs in The Hobbit are overlaid so that the reader’s tour sweeps across the landscapes and environments created entirely by concept artists, artisans, and skilled workers of every imaginable category, required to faithfully reflect Tolkien’s and Jackson’s visions.  Even more exciting are accounts, including descriptions and photographs, of places that Jackson filmed, but did not make it to the final cut of the film.  The weight of this task–the task of creating the films and also in creating this hefty document–are reflected in the artistry and organization of every single page.

Along with the primary narrative focusing on selection, planning, building and filming each environment, readers will discover several sidebars covering topics like key characters, races, and creatures, and a veritable how-to guide to making an epic film series that takes readers through breaking down a script, set conceptualization, set drafting, use of “big rigs”–a twist on forced perspective filming, sound design, location scouting, art direction, set construction, set decoration, cinematography, performance/motion capture, building model miniatures, previsualization, aerial and scenic photography, organic sets, the greens department (charged with plant life set dressing), talismans and props, set and prop finishing, post-production, color grading, lighting, shooting on location, using locations responsibly, and creating digital environments.

Throughout the book readers will learn what materials and settings could be re-used from The Lord of the Rings for The Hobbit.  Initially environments were not built to last, but after the success of various filming locations in New Zealand as tourist attractions when filming wrapped on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, many sites were rebuilt to survive past production for The Hobbit films.  This included the creation of 44 Hobbit holes that can be visited today among many other sites.  The journey across the map of Middle-earth will take readers to The Shire, Lands of Arnor, Rivendell, The Misty Mountains, Khazad-dûm, Wilderland, Mirkwood, Lothlórien and the River Anduin, Realms of Rhovanion, Rohan, Enedwaith & Calenardhon, Realms of the North & Wastes of the East, Ithilien & the Morgul Vale, and Mordor and the Shadowed South.

Continue reading

Hobbit lord Rings box set

It’s the best theatrical fantasy series ever released.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

So how much would you pay for a 30-disc edition of all six extended cuts of the Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies on Blu-ray?  Assuming you haven’t already purchased each film individually, you could buy the Blu-ray extended edition of the first trilogy–The Lord of the Rings trilogy–for less than $60 from Amazon here, and the second trilogy–The Hobbit trilogy–for less than $65 from Amazon here.  That’s about $125.

What kinds of extras would prompt you to pay $799.99 for a single release set of all six movies?  For the first time ever, such a set is coming your way soon in The Middle-earth Six-Film Collection–A Limited Collector’s Edition.  In addition to the extended edition release of all six films, the collection also includes all previously released bonus content from both the theatrical and extended editions.  So what new comes with the set if all the bonus content is on the previous releases?  Here’s what you get:

– The 30 discs are housed in six stunning faux leather books and a collectible Hobbit-style wood shelf.  The one-of-a-kind wood shelf is crafted from solid wood with design selected by Peter Jackson.
 
– Exclusive premiums designed for the collection include: · Spectacular 100-page sketch-style book with replica The Red Book of Westmarch, filled with original film sketches and new artwork · Original reproductions of exquisite watercolor paintings by acclaimed conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe, framable and wall-ready

Hobbit Lord of the Rings Boxed set

The bottom line?  If you value these extras at approximately $600 or more, this boxed set is for you.  If not, you can steer back to the current individual trilogy boxed sets linked above.  Here’s more about the content of the new 30-disc boxed set from the press information for previously released content:

Continue reading

3125_the-hobbit-an-unexpected-jou_E464 3126_the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the_6F52

For the first time, Warner Bros. is bringing extended cuts of The Hobbit Trilogy to the big screen.  Partnering with Fathom Events, The Hobbit Trilogy returns to select theaters nationwide for an exclusive series of three in-theater events including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition on October 5, 2015; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition on October 7, 2015; and the world premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition on October 13, 2015–including never before seen footage.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson has prepared a new introduction to the trilogy for this event.  Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, The Hobbit Trilogy is the ultimate fantasy series and follow-on to Jackson’s Academy Award winning The Lord of the Rings series.

The Hobbit Trilogy Event Dates:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Monday, October 5
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Wednesday, October 7
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – Tuesday, October 13

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: