The magic of shooting three epic fantasy movies all at once: as soon as the first film bows in theaters, the next installment is right on its heels. And you know what that means: promotion, promotion, promotion.
Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived on Blu-ray this week after quietly passing the $1 billion worldwide mark earlier this month. That could have been the sign of a lull for the successful Tolkein franchise, but to ensure Middle Earth fever while also reminding us that he's actually the king of the fantasy world, Jackson held a live-streaming event to reveal to fans the very first footage of his 2013 follow-up, The Desolation of Smaug. Jacksons' reveal was for privileged purchasers of the Blu-ray only (with no plans in place to post the coveted footage online), but Hollywood.com was on hand to check out the footage and hear what the director had to say about the anticipated sequel. No rest on the road to the Lonely Mountain.
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Sprinkled throughout the event were snippets from the upcoming film, though no cohesive trailer — that's saved for this summer, folks — as well as questions from fans and friends of Middle Earth. This, of course, included taped segments from Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Billy Boyd, Evangeline Lilly, Stephen Fry, Dominic Monaghan, and even Tolkein super-fan Stephen Colbert.
The newest footage revealed that a more extensive look into the backstory of The Necromancer — something new in store for the films versus the book. When asked if "The Necromancer [would] play a bigger role" in his version, Jackson was quick to quip "yes…but that's all I'm saying." The audience was then segued into footage of Gandalf and Radagast entering a dark, ominous, almost jail-esque cavern. The sequence is part of the "expansion" of The Hobbit that Jackson mentioned, which focuses largely on building out the story of The Necromancer, played by Smaug voicer and villain-du-jour, Benedict Cumberbatch.
The quick :30 seconds (if that) of footage opened on Gandalf seemingly on a quest of his own to find out why the sword Glamdring "got out into the world," only to discover that there's much more at play here — tying into this newer Necromancer storyline. The wizard Radagast appears (seemingly out of nowhere) and confusedly asks "why am I here, Gandalf?" There are doorways to the tombs where we meet the two wizards are covered with twisted and rusted ironwork: all doors to small rooms, destroyed. "This is not a nice place to meet," Gandalf stated, before Radagast followed up with the question "who's buried here?" Gandalf seems to take in all the destruction around him (the tomb/underground-looking prison is largely broken and destroyed), and explained that the destroyer of the cell/tomb spaces "would've been known only as a servant of evil." And when Radagast asked "who would break into such a foul place," Gandalf ominously stated "No one, these tombs were opened from the inside" before the scene cut away.
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There was talk of hot dwarves (we're not the only ones obsessed), the visual creation of Mirkwood, Bard the Bowman, aka "one of the really cool things about the second movie," and even a "not quite there yet" sneak peek of Smaug's CGI creation (he was getting a wee bit of a wing-expansion). While Jackson cited "the confrontation between Smaug and Bilbo" as the scene he's most excited to see play out on screen, he did acknowledge that middle films — much like Middle Earth itself — can be quite the challenge. "It is complicated to do a middle film," Jackson explained, answering a fan question, "but the advantage is … we have multiple story lines ... and we can start following multiple characters." A solid change up from the first, very-linear (storyline-wise) plot of An Unexpected Journey.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives Dec. 13, 2013. An Unexpected Journey is out now on Blu-ray in both 2D and 3D versions.
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
[Photo Credit: Warner Brothers]
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Emily's getting salty, you guys!
The newest clip for Revenge is out on TVLine, and it looks like season two is going to put Emily VanCamp's character in a bunch of hot water. Or, you know, at least some sea water.
Emily Thorne is moving on, it seems. Maybe even literally and figuratively. Though it's hard to tell the where of it all, as the teaser clip features a lot of footage from season one. No matter, though, as the new bits reveal at least some crazy, question-raising moments. Namely...WHY in the world is homegirl tied to a pole in the ocean?! Is she going to drown? She wants to find out what happened, "dead or alive." Intrigue! See for yourself and speculate on what it all means in the comments.
Revenge returns to ABC on its new night: Sunday, September 30th at 9 PM.
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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'Revenge' Costars Emily VanCamp and Josh Bowman Heat Up on Vacation
Are you suffering from the effects of June Gloom? It's the worst when it rains in the summertime, right? Oh, you're actually enjoying a warm, sunny summer? Well then, you're in need of some ammunition for a few summer cocktails, my friend.
Luckily, Hollywood has been busy giving us plenty of reasons to pop open a tall boy or get the blender going (hey, we have to find money for all that AC somewhere, right?). Here are the worst things that happened in Tinseltown this week:
Charlize Theron Just Made Us Painfully Aware of How Much More Fabulous She Is Than Everyone Else
The woman is rocking a buzzcut. A BUZZCUT. We put up with it when Demi Moore shave her head and still looked like a fox. We even made peace with the fact that Natalie Portman was even more beautiful without hair. But here's where we draw the line. How are we normal people supposed to live like this? Oh. We could not shave our heads? I guess that'll do.
We Actually Liked the Dallas Reboot... and So Did Most of America
Don't tell our moms. Then we'll have to explain how much Jesse Metcalfe's shirtlessness had to do with it.
You Cannot Afford the Fabulous Clothes From The Great Gatsby
You want to know the number? Are you sure? I don't think you do. It's out of your price range. I guarantee it. But if you must, click and reveal the number at your own risk.
Homemade Blended Fruit Beverage With Vodka
Emily VanCamp and Josh Bowman Are Clearly Trying to Make Us Jealous
The Revenge real-life couple made out in public. On a beach. Looking svelt in their swimwear. You were probably in an office. Under fluorescent lights. When you saw the photo. Life is unfair.
True Blood is Going to Be Even More Like The Vampire Diaries Because TV is Testing Us
How do we make America smarter? Force them to play a never ending game of whatever you call trying to decide what's different between two photos in the back of a Highlights magazine.
We Spent Two Weeks Agonizing Over the Fate of Glass House and Everything is Going to Be Fine
Some of us (ahem) even read lengthy legal docs for (ahem) some other people. CBS, couldn't we have just accepted that TV audiences love reality shows and just got along in the first place?
Four Loko (If You Can Find It)
Lindsay Lohan Just Scared the S**t Out of Us
For approximately 15 minutes, the internet worried that Miss Lohan had seriously harmed herself. Luckily, it turns out she was just suffering from "exhaustion." Don't you do that to us again, Miss Lohan. Our little hearts can't handle it.
One Mini-Sarah Palin, Comin' Right Up!
Apparently, Bristol Palin (Teen Mom: Politics Edition) wants to get into politics... just like her mother. Get ready to endure some serious parody, little lady. The only question is, who will Tina Fey appoint to play Bristol on SNL?
Game of Thrones Made Us Very Uncomfortable This Week
When it was revealed on a DVD commentary that they did, in fact, use a prosthetic head resembling former President George W. Bush to put on a spike next to Ned Stark's former cerebral center.
There Still Isn't Enough... Exposure in The New Magic Mike Trailer
How are we supposed to get a real idea for the film if the cuts are so speedy? Oh, we have to actually see it? Well, let us prepare the Jackie O sunglasses, headscarves, and lengthy excuses for purchasing our matinee tickets like "I hear it's Matthew McConaughey's best acting in years" or "It's Joe Manganiello's breakout role!"
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
With the SAG Awards less than a week away, more and more details are slowly coming out of the woodwork, including which of Hollywood's finest with be presenting the awards that evening. Producers announced on Wednesday that lead actors Brad Pitt and George Clooney were two of the top A-list stars chosen as presenters for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, along with the likes of Kathy Bates, Owen Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Zoe Saldana, Kristen Wiig, and Sir Ben Kingsley. Other presenters include Michelle Williams, Tina Fey, Natalie Portman, John Krasinski, Julianna Margulies, Maya Rudolph, Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Bacon, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep and Dick Van Dyke. In other words, anybody who's anybody is going to be there, so don't miss it! The SAG Awards will air live this Sunday, Jan. 29 on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT. - People
Revenge fans will be interested to hear that costars Emily VanCamp and Josh Bowman have decided to take their romance off-screen! A source told Us Weekly that the two of them are an item and "hang out together every night," though another insider insists "it's not serious." At least not yet. Celebrities dating co-stars isn't exactly uncommon, but the most interesting piece of this story was the fact that a VanCamp pal said she won't be taking the relationship public anytime soon since she's a "very private" person. It's a good thing she works in an industry where privacy comes so easily. - US
Justin Bieber is using his fame for the greater good. After a fan tweeted at Beiber to help spread the word about organ and blood donations, the singer was more than happy to ablige. He immediately took action on his Twitter page and posted a message to all his followers, saying, "help spread the word for @alungstory http://www.alungstory.ca/ #BeAnOrganDonor." And his efforts didn't go unnoticed. The Ontario-based Trillium Gift of Life Network saw donations rise to 1,200 people, which is more than four times the amount the network usually receives. Afterward, the fan thanked the teen star for his efforts, saying it made a "huge impact," to which Bieber responded, saying, "glad to be able to help. best part of what i do." Way to go Biebs! - E!, Twitter