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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In his directorial debut Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes takes your old, high school Shakespeare text and blows them up with a tank. Metaphorically.
Fiennes reinterprets Shakespeare's famous political thriller with the visual style of The Hurt Locker, transplanting the action into a modern city under the cloud of war. The result is a gritty, terrifying piece of drama, a platform for Fiennes, who also stars as the titular warmonger, to ferociously claw his way through the material.
We're happy to debut two promo images for the Coriolanus (opening wide on Friday) that do justice to the intensity of the film. Big and bold, these posters give you a sense of what to expect from Fiennes first outing—an in-your-face experience with all the dramatic gravitas you'd expect from the Bard.
You’d think that a series starring a WB series alum and a former Gossip Girl brat would be nothing more than a blip on the radar, but ABC’s Revenge is a series worth checking in on. I’ll admit, at first I thought this series was little more than grown-up Gossip Girl, and in a way it is, but it has unexpectedly surpassed that comparison. Instead, we’ve got a delicious, dark, complicated web of lies that doesn’t get a pretty little solution when the semester ends.
Revenge stars Emily Van Camp as Emily Thorne, a young woman with a big secret and a thirst for…well…revenge. She returns to the Hamptons – the location where a group of wealthy, selfish tycoons unjustly ruined her father’s life – to get even under a pseudonym. Things become a little complicated when people from her past start to recognize her. The first, Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann), is a young man with infinite wealth and an affinity for Emily’s late father. He throws himself into Emily’s lot, helping her exact her vengeance. Things are complicated further when Emily gets closer to her target, Hamptons matriarch Victoria Grayson(Madeleine Stowe), by starting up a romance with Victoria’s son, Daniel (Josh Bowman). If this isn’t enough, the heroine enters into a bit of a love triangle when blue collar dreamboat Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler) – and Emily’s childhood sweetheart – doesn’t know who she really is, but senses the connection between them. All this is only a tiny sliver of the drama that’s already unfolded after just seven episodes.
But how does this series, which appears to do little to separate itself from other salacious dramas like Desperate Housewives or Gossip Girl, stand out? There are a few simple and very important factors at work here. First, the elimination of the “slapstick” or goofy elements that many melodramas employ to show us they don’t take themselves too seriously. Sure, those elements are cute and entertaining, but they distract from the biggest hook: the danger, romance and double-crossing. It was fun seeing Terri Hatcher have to run across her lawn naked in order to escape her ex, but eventually this back and forth between murder mystery and housewife hijinks hinders the possible trajectory of the plot. When you always have to lighten up a bit for a few laughs, it limits the emotional hook you can create with the drama – unless the writing is absolutely perfect. For a fluffy serial drama, that’s a lot to ask.
While the new ABC series does acknowledge when it borrows plot devices from classic literature and Emily spouts the occasional quote from the Bard, the series isn’t obsessed with its own cleverness. It’s not over-used and it’s not waved around like a trophy. Elements of literary inspiration pop up here and there and are often supportive of the drama, rather than a distraction for the sake of showing off – something Gossip Girl is terribly guilty of. Of course, on the other side of the coin, we have the classic soap opera style acting to contend with. It can be grating for a while, but eventually the intrigue gets the best of you and it’s easy to ignore an awkward or over-delivered line here and there.
Revenge also separates itself by not being afraid to get in too deep. There’s a sense, especially with shows like Gossip Girl, that everything will be okay – no matter how big the cliffhanger – as long as we get to the next episode. The big danger will get enough of a solution to make us feel comfortable and we can float along while Blair calls everyone by some witty, insulting, shamelessly pop-culture inspired name. That’s not so in this Hamptons mystery. The further we go down the road, the more the cliff we’re standing on crumbles. Revenge doesn’t let you stay comfortable and it isn’t afraid to complicate things to an impossible level. No moment feels safe – even scenes of Emily and Daniel frolicking on the beach seem like a ripe time for some plot to unfold. It’s melodrama, pure, simple and honest and while there are cop and lawyer shows aplenty that deliver equally consistent drama, the last thing we need is yet another show about law enforcement officials. Bring on the Hamptons brats and disgruntled private body guards instead.
You probably won’t need seasons upon seasons of Revenge on Blu-ray, but you will need to watch every episode to keep up. It’s been my cure for the Gossip Girl blues and it’s even better than what the doctor ordered.