The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is just around the corner, which means that our favorite mythical creatures will soon be back in our lives. But Legolas shouldn't get all of the glory, right?
Here's a list of the mythical beings from film and TV that make us weak at the knees:
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
Name: LegolasMythological Creature: ElfFamous From: The Lord of the Rings and The HobbitPortrayed By: Orlando BloomSo, Legolas is seriously sexy. I have no problem saying that I'm attracted to an Elf. (Okay I'm a little weirded out that I just admitted to having a crush on an Elf.) His jawline could cut a rock, his bow skills are amazingly fantastic, and J.R.R. Tolkien's description of him doesn't do our lovestruck hearts any favors: "He was as tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship."
Name: KiliMythological Creature: DwarfFamous From: The HobbitPortrayed By: Aiden TurnerSo who else wants to get down with some Dwarves? Okay, so I know that sounds creepy, but it's totally common knowledge that Kili is kind of actually attractive. Dwarves get a bad rap for being pretty dopey, squat, hairy, and a bunch of other unattractive adjectives, but Kili beats the stereotype. He's definitely someone to look forward to in the next Hobbit.
Name: GaladrielMythological Creature: Royal Elf (I don't know why the distinction is necessary; it just is.)Famous From: The Lord of the RingsPortrayed By: Cate BlanchettBy definition Galadriel is ethereal: Extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world. With her golden hair, snow-white skin, and piercing blue eyes, she's what elf dreams are made of. Plus, she's seriously powerful, and there's nothing better than a powerful woman.
Twentieth Century Fox Film
Name: NeytiriMythological Creature: Na’vi princessFamous From: AvatarPortrayed By: Zoe SaldanaYes, she's blue. I totally get that. But, she's also beautiful, skilled in combat, and extremely sassy. And even if we don't actually get to see Zoe Saldana, we're always very aware that she's what makes this Na'vi princess so gorgeous.
Name: Thor Mythological Creature: A Norse GodFamous From: ThorPortrayed By: Chris HemsworthThor is literally a god. Like an actual god. According to Wikipedia, in Norse mythology, Thor is a "hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility." Fertility, ladies. Fertility. Add on the face, body, muscles, and voice of Chris Hemseworth and we've got a serious winner on our hands.
Name: HerculesMythological Creature: A Half-GodFamous From: The Legend of HerculesPortrayed By: Kellan LutzOkay, so he's only a half-god, but that's more god than most people can claim to be. He's amazingly strong, and he loves to go on adventures. And who wants to bet that his online dating profile says he loves "long walks on the beach"? (The Legend of Hercules is set to come out in 2014.)
Name: Eric NorthmanMythological Creature: VampireFamous From: True BloodPortrayed By: Alexander SkarsgardWe're not talking about Twilight vampires over here, we're talking about True Blood vamps. And obviously the steamiest vamp around — well, besides Pam — is Eric Northman. He hardly ever wears a shirt and deep down, under all of that pent up anger, is a heart that yearns for someone to love.
Name: Alcide HerveauxMythological Creature: WerewolfFamous From: True BloodPortrayed By: Joe ManganielloIf vamps aren't your thing, then you might want to check out their mortal (or, I guess, non-mortal) enemies: Werewolves. Also prone to not wearing a shirt is Bon Temps very own Alcide Herveaux. Just look at that scruff.
Name: Cormac McLaggenMythological Creature: WizardFamous From: Harry PotterPortrayed By: Freddie StromaCormac is totally a pompous jerk, but he's a very attractive pompous jerk. And if you can't get past his self-righteousness, then look no further than my second favorite wizard, Oliver Wood. He might have only been around in the wizarding world for a short while, but he definitely captured the hearts of Hogwarts-wannabees all over the world.
Name: Daenerys TargaryenMythological Creature: She descends from dragons, so it counts.Famous From: Game of ThronesPortrayed By: Emilia ClarkeSome might say that she's not technically a mythical being, but (spoiler) she was able to survive sitting in a fire for hours. She's the mother of dragons, and she's one of the fiercest ladies to grace the world of Westeros. She's a strong woman who knows what she wants, and she looks beautiful while on her journey to claim her rightful throne. Go, Team Daenerys!
It is my estimation that there are very few people on the fence about seeing a movie about the universe of college a capella. The people who want to see this movie would all but kill to do so — on the other hand there are those who’d rather endure a three-hour documentary on the referendum to criminalize the distribution of lead-based paints. I was hardly in the latter category upon approaching Pitch Perfect. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the seasonal performances of my college’s championship-winning a capella group the Binghamton Crosbys (namedrop). I would happily welcome an influx of musical films to mainstream Hollywood. I really really liked the first season of Glee. I say all this to illustrate how open to the idea of Pitch Perfect I was and how much I really wanted to like the movie. Unfortunately as I would reluctantly acknowledge not long into the picture Pitch Perfect was missing many of its marks. Not all but many.
The movie touts itself not as Glee: The Movie as many on the opposing side are likely to deem it but as something far more self-aware. There are a handful of jokes about the rigid containment of the a capella world’s celebrity with remarks that all the authentically cool kids at the central Barden University exist beyond the confines of the a capella community. Unfortunately while it strives to adopt a self-deprecating attitude toward the tropes of the genre it draws the line at the rejection of the more hackneyed elements of its romantic and interpersonal storylines.
While the story is based in the always-worth-revisiting “be yourself” underdog theme it doesn’t quite execute this idea with full force. The highly talented Anna Kendrick plays Beca a “rebellious” aspiring deejay enticed into the nearly defunct Barden Bellas by well-meaning vet Chloe (Brittany Snow) due to her natural skill for singing but disliked by queen bee Aubrey (Anna Camp) for being just a little too different. But in all honesty she’s hardly different enough to evoke our sympathies. In fact the only outstanding characteristics Beca seems to have is that she’s pretty self-entitled and always a little bit miffed. Still she’s the apple of everyone's eye including the guileless flimsy male lead Jesse (Skylar Astin) who himself is a cherished new member of Barden's rival a capella group the all-male Treblemakers — led by the wickedly obnoxious top dog Bumper (Adam DeVine). Beca and Jesse are meant to found the real emotional crust of the movie; he teaches her about the greats of cinematic soundtracks and about not pushing people away and she... well she doesn't really teach him about anything. Their relationship lacks the real substance that would effectively carry the film based primarily on the fact that they're both cute and microscopically off-center.
And then there are the supporting characters — the Bellas' team of misfits whom we're meant to love. Rebel Wilson leads this pack as the kooky brazen self-decreed Fat Amy. Beside her the sexually-charged Stacie (Alexis Knapp) the quiet psychopath Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) whose alluded homosexuality is quite unfortunately the punchline of her character among a few faceless sub-supporting characters. And while the theme does don a sheath of the classic “be yourself” mindset it seems to be more interested in poking fun of these girls and their quirks than it is in celebrating them.
But they do band together they do develop a camaraderie and they do come to compromise their differences in order to better one another and the team. And then comes the final musical number.
See for all of the film's faults there is something it knows how to do: it puts on one hell of a show. As much of a cynical nitpicker as you might be once the Bellas' final performance on the competition mainstage takes way you're bound to enjoy it. Showcasing the individual vocal talents of each of the (primary) singers sewn together in an expertly crafted compilation piece viewers are likely to get a chill or two. This is where Pitch Perfect hits: in its sheer unembarrassed celebration of a capella of music in general and of the girls onscreen. The movie makes the mistake of trying to have it both ways. When it goes for self-deprecation it makes it look all the more unaware of its inherent flaws in plot and character. But in being what plenty of people would be just fine with — an a capella movie that isn't ashamed of loving a capella any more than its over-the-top characters are — it succeeds. Unfortunately this sentiment feels limited to the final performance of the film. But to its credit it's a performance good enough to make up for a whole lot of the stuff that leads up to it.
Previously on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1 you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky erratic action of TF3 director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness Potter is and always has been a human story one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again Daniel Radcliffe Emma Watson Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure the awe the comedy the thrills the people the places the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.
Perhaps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows should have been a trilogy. Splitting the sprawling finale to author J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard saga into three parts — as opposed to its chosen two-part incarnation — might have come across as shameless profiteering (admittedly a not-uncommon practice in this town) but it wouldn’t have been without merit. At 759 pages Rowling’s source novel is said to be a rather dense work plot-wise; surely it could have easily warranted another installment?
I only say this because Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 though certainly a decent film clearly strains from the effort required to fit the book’s proceedings into a two-act structure. While Part 2 slated to open approximately six months from now is alotted the story's meaty parts — namely the spectacular Battle of Hogwarts and its emotional denouement — Part 1 must bear the burden of setting the stage for the grand confrontation between the forces of Light and Dark magic and framing the predicament of its three protagonists teen wizards Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in suitably dire terms. And it's quite a heavy burden indeed.
As the film opens the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) having assumed control over Hogwarts since the events of the preceding film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has wasted no time in initiating his reign of terror. As far as historical evil-dictator analogues are concerned Voldemort appears partial to the blueprint laid by Stalin as opposed to that of his genocidal pact-pal Hitler. Enemies of the Dark Lord's regime are prosecuted in dramatic show trials presided over by the Grand Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) while muggles (non-magic folk) and half-bloods are denounced as "undesirables" and “mudbloods” in Soviet-style propaganda posters and forced to register with the authorities.
As the only viable threat to Voldemort’s dominion Harry and his allies are hunted vigorously by Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and her goon squad of Death Eaters. The Boy Who Lived now fully grown and in more or less complete command of his powers is still no match England's nasally scourge. Labeled "Undesirable No. 1" by the Gestapo-like Ministry of Magic he's is forced to go on the lam where he labors along with Ron and Hermione to solve the riddle of Voldemort’s immortality.
For those not well-versed in Rowling’s source material the film’s opening act is a frustrating blur: After an all-too-brisk update on the bleak state of affairs in Hogwarts we are hastily introduced (or re-introduced) to a dozen or so characters the majority of whom are never seen again. A few even perish off-screen. Had we gotten a chance to get to know them we might be able to mourn them as our heroes do; instead we’re left racking our brains trying to recall who they were and how they figured in the plot.
Rowling's flaws as a storyteller — the over-reliance on deus ex machina devices (in this case we get both a doe ex machina and a Dobby ex machina) the ponderous downloads of information (not unlike those of that other uber-anticipated and somewhat overrated 2010 tentpole Inception) the annoying ability of characters to simply teleport (or "disapparate") away from danger etc. — are more evident in this film than in previous chapters. And rather than obscure these flaws director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves both franchise veterans arguably amplify them.
What saves the film are Rowling's three greatest achievements: Harry Ron and Hermione who along with the actors who play them have evolved beyond the material. The film's narrative gains its emotional footing during the heroic threesome's exile ostensibly a series of camping trips — with tents and everything — during which they reflect on their journey together the challenge that awaits them and the sacrifices it will require. Though they occasionally verge on tedious these excursions into Gethsemane allow us precious quality time with these characters that we've grown to adore over the course of seven films even if the plaintive air is spoiled a bit by some rather puzzling attempts at product placement. In their rush to flee the Dementors and Death Eaters it seems that they at least took care to pack the latest in fall fashion:
As devout readers of Rowling's novels know all too well the only foolproof shield against Voldemort's minions is the Bananicus Republicum charm.
American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe is the brains behind the show, which will also feature Leave it to Beaver child star Jerry Mathers and Broadway sensation Jennifer Leigh Warren, and Dancing with the Stars professional Mark Ballas will choreograph.
The lead has yet to be announced. After months of searching California, the producers have selected 30 hopefuls who will attempt to impress celebrity judges Stroma, who plays Cormac McLaggen in the last two Potter films, and Neil Patrick Harris next week (05Oct10).
Their pick will play Cinderella when the show opens at the historic El Portal Theatre in the San Fernando Valley at the end of November (10).