The Jungle Book. The Hobbit. Winnie the Pooh. The Last Unicorn. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The Dark Crystal. Mouse Guard.
There is an exclusive royalty of fantasy tales featuring non-humans in fantastical realms. These books and movies should be on the bookshelves of everyone with an imagination. Strange worlds familiar and yet unfamiliar. Steeped in tradition, filled with myths and legends and populated by extraordinary creatures. These are fantasy masterpieces that make us look beyond our humanity.
Based on a world of characters he created in college in 1996, in May 2005 artist and writer David Petersen self-published the first of several stories of his micro-universe called Mouse Guard. In 2006 Archaia started publishing Mouse Guard issues books. Petersen earned the 2007 Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and in 2008 he earned Eisner Awards for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 & Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album – Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 Hardcover). We at borg.com have been bragging up Petersen’s Mouse Guard series from the beginning.
This month Archaia is releasing the first Mouse Guard Coloring Book, and we have previews of the book below. It is a fantastic book to go crazy with crayons or pencils. But it’s even more. The more than fifty black and white illustrations in a format larger than what is printed in the Mouse Guard series shows the intricate detail of the environments, cities, and characters from across the Mouse Territories. Although some images are printed smaller than the original artwork behind these previously published works, this is the closest you may come to getting your hands on an affordable gallery of Petersen’s original pencil and ink drawings. At a convention commissioned inked 7×7 works from David Petersen go for $500. Original Mouse Guard pages sold for that amount a decade ago but would sell for at least triple that today. So this coloring book serves also as a look at what Petersen sees with his original art pages, as well as a great convention sketchbook. And costs less than $15.
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
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:
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
The Renaissance of movie and TV tie-in action figures arrived in 2013 with Funko’s classic Kenner-style ReAction figure line. Other companies focus on single licensed figures and getting the likenesses spot-on, but Funko’s diversification of lines meant everyone could find something that fit their personal niche at an affordable price point. A true throwback series, one of the overlooked features of the line is the incredible variety of no-names-taken, classic kick-ass heroines represented.
In fact you can find here the top of the world’s best, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, genre heroines. Buy them for yourself, for your friends, or get your favorite as a totem to inspire you each day from your desktop. And where the early sculpts in Funko’s line admittedly looked nothing like the actresses that made the roles famous, the new lines have only improved. And nobody has better packaging designs than the ReAction line.
Who would you add to the Funko roster of heroines? Compare your list to our more than 85 suggestions for future kick-ass women action figures below.
First, check out this Baker’s Dozen of our favorites in the current Funko pantheon:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attendees will receive a commemorative lanyard and one of three posters created for the marathon.
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.
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.
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.