With the world wide release of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” December 13, 2013, Hobbit and British actor Richard Armitage fans around the globe are poised for the next phase of this Middle Earth adventure.
The Richard Armitage images from the various premieres were stunning! None more so than this Richard Armitage portrait (below) shared by Karen W on her blog .
Sighhhhh! As I quipped about this image and one other recent Richard Armitage portrait, this man is so heart stoppingly handsome, kind, talented, gentlemanly, and gracious, etc., that I think I need an RA-ED to kick start my heart again. Ha!
And yesterday, I had shared TORN’s (The One Ring Net) December 12, 2013 essay about their December 2nd interview with Richard Armitage in a comment on my THDofS Berlin Premiere post.
But as I prepare to see THDofS on Saturday afternoon, this video deserves its own spot here for giving renewed insights into Richard Armitage’s process in building his character portrayal of Thorin Oakenshield in THDofS–one grumpy, distrustful, suspicious, majestic, focused, fiercely regal warrior King Under the Mountain (image right) at a time:
“Richard Armitage talks ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ with Larry Curtis of TORN”
I particularly liked Richard Armitage’s response when he was asked about focusing upon his character preparation for portraying Thorin Oakenshield versus onset camaraderie (the quote occurs from 1:14 – 1:40):
“Um. It’s something that always plays on my conscience. ’cause. And I finish a job and I think, god, I really should have had more fun playing that. But I .. Cause I probably do take myself a bit too seriously. Um But I just found there were so … you know, plotting where Thorin is in his journey. And … and figuring out w … It’s such a long story where we were and what I wanted to achieve. I just had to really concentrate. …”
Well said Mr. Armitage!
So for now, as I prepare to watch THDofS on Saturday in 3D HFR at one of our local movie multiplexes and then give my impressions, the burning question on my mind is not how will film 2 end. Oh no! My question is, what part (s) of the movie do I miss viewing out of necessity since it is 3 hours long without an intermission? Ha!
P.S. And while you’re waiting to experience THDofS, please consider donating to one of RA’s chosen charities as part of a grassroots charitable giving campaign called “Fans JUST GIVING Back. You will find the Just Giving link at the top of my sidebar. Thanks!
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is Finally here! Part 2–Grati’s Review December 13-14, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #483b)
As soon as I returned home from seeing an afternoon matinee of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (THDofS) today (Dec. 14, 2013) with my hubby, I began putting my thoughts down here about the film. I had purposefully stayed away from reading everyone else’s THDofS essays so as not to bias my own experience of the film. So here are my impressions about THDofS–with a minimum spoilers (the images are from the previously released trailers, so not visual spoilers):
- The THDofS film’s visual format of3D HFR: Yes! Our city finally invested in this projection system. And I loved it for THDofS just as much as I did when seeing THAUJ last year. The New Zealand landscape (Trailer 1, my cap below left) and other Middle Earth worlds (Trailer 1, my cap below right) were majestic and breathtaking to view–very lush and painterly. And I was unable to tell what was real from what was CGI–except that I knew rationally that the Elven cavern (Trailer 1, my cap below right) had to have been CGI due to the enormity of scale being prohibitive for building it. And the close up scenes felt intimate and so real that I felt that I could almost reach out and touch the actors and their environments. So Kudos on the cinematography.
The only thing that I would have suggested about the 3D on THDofS would be to have less of the bees flying out at the audience. In THAUJ, there were only two items that flew out toward the audience–a butterfly and a bird. But in THDofS, there were probably a dozen instances of things flying out at the audience–and the fact that most of them occurred in the same scene, seemed unnecessary. We already know that THDofS is in 3D, they don’t have to prove it to us. And I appreciated the restraint used in THAUJ–with regard to having only two things fly out at the audience. The point of the 3D in THDofS is the immersion feeling of the depth of field, not having us be startled by objects tossed at us.
- The story: THDofS was engagingly told with an eye to developing various central character motivations beyond what we saw in THAUJ. I was hooked from the first scene in THDofS–that is wholly new but serves to remind us of the importance of the quest! There is a rhythm to any film and this film’s rhythm was a crescendo of adventure as the Dwarves kept moving forward, despite challenges and setbacks. My favorite scenes for action involved water, webs, and wickedly ingenious Dwarven and Hobbit strategems. The Dwarves and Bilbo definitely thought outside of the box–creatively and courageously. What a rush!
Yes, the film has darker themes of greed, lust for power, and malevolence. But it is still great fun! However, the PG-13 rating is well earned for the violent fight scenes that occur throughout the film. Though, with kids and their video games these days, they would probably not be fazed by it. Ha! However, this lady was cringing and scrunching her eyes closed through several of the fighting bits. So kudos to the actors, stunt actors, and fight choreographers for realistically portraying these scenes. And the editing and direction of these sequences are top notch as well.
- Continuing characters of note: The three lead characters are Bilbo, Thorin, and Gandalf–and they do not disapoint!Bilbo Baggins (Trailer 1, my cap right)–portrayed in THDofS by Martin Freeman with fewer Felix Unger type gestural and facial ticks this time around–steps up to the plate more in THDofS, compared to his character’s hesitancy in THAUJ. This is a seasoned Bilbo. And Bilbo helps the Dwarves out of scrapes several times in THDofS. The oft repeated refrain “Where’s Bilbo?” is quickly followed by Bilbo appearing to save the day. This pattern is a little bit predictable–even if you haven’t read the book. Ha! However, by the end of THDofS, Bilbo proves his man hood–his Hobbit hood? or his Dwarven hood?–anyway, Bilbo’s boulders are just as big as the Dwarves. *cough* My apologies for the reference, but it is apt.
Thorin Oakenshield (Trailer 1, my cap right)–portrayed by Richard Armitage–seems more driven to enter the Lonely Mountain of Erebor in THDofS than ever before. The stakes are higher in that if Thorin and his comrades miss this opportunity, their chance will not come again. And the fact that their quest is beset by challenges that would make Sir Edmund Hillary forget about climbing Mount Everest, the mountain of Erebor is at times a seemingly unattainable goal. Yet Thorin does not give up. Thorin is relentless in the pursuit of reclaiming their homeland–letting no one, and no thing, get in his way. And with several characters reminding Thorin of the dangers inherent in being successful in his quest, Thorin does not want to succumb to the dragon sickness like his grandfather King Thror did in THAUJ. So Thorin has to weigh the pull of fulfilling his legacy against that of the cost of failure–the potential cost both in the Dwarves being brought low and humiliated again, and of loss of lives. Richard Armitage portrays this deeply felt conflict in Thorin with subtly nuanced edginess–at times fiercely regal and statesman like, and at other times bitter and grasping for the hope of a future that he will make for himself, rather than having a future imposed upon him by others.
Finally, there is Gandalf the Grey (Trailer 1, my cap right)–portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen. Gandalf is the wizard whose magic served as savior for several key moments in THAUJ. But in THDofS, it is Bilbo’s actions that aid the Dwarves. So what is Gandalf up to? He is fighting evil on a grand scale. And through Gandalf’s scenes–conducted mostly apart from the Dwarves, I might add–that we see the big picture of good versus evil. And good winning out is not assured. I have to say, that the scenes of Gandalf with the Dwarves and Bilbo were more engaging for me. So much so that having seen some of Gandalf’s Dol Goldur scenes in the trailer and the Sneak Peek video, these scenes were when I snuck out of the theatre out of necessity, for the middle two scenes with Gandalf. If Sir Peter Jackson is going to give us an almost 3 hour film without an intermission, we have to make tough choices. Ha! But I will see the film again and certainly buy the dvd–which will allow me not to miss anything. However Gandalf’s final scene in THDofS is not to be missed. So temper your fluid intake. Ha!
***From this point on in my essay, if you haven’t read the book, nor seen the film–and you don’t want mini spoilers–stop reading.***
- New Characters of note: Elves, and men, and beasts. Oh my!The much touted Elves of Tauriel, Legolas, and King Thranduil (Trailer 1, my caps, below left to right) are at different times ethereal, feisty, and rude. Tauriel–portrayed convincingly by Evangeline Lilly–is all fight. Much has been made of adding her estrogen to the Middle Earth testosterone mix–since women were not focused upon in Tolkien’s original canon. But rather than Tauriel being labeled as giving emotion to the film as some have said–what does that mean?–I feel that Taureil reflects the conscience that the royal Elves are lacking. About that, Legolas–portrayed by Orlando Bloom reprising his role from the earlier “Lord of the Rings” trilogy of films–is his father King Thranduil’s son. Legolas doesn’t like Dwarves, he fights unquestioningly for his kingdom, and he has a very short term view of what is best for Middle Earth. Legolas gets that view from his isolationist father King Thranduil–portrayed with malicious ennui by Lee Pace. I could say that the straight blond haired, spikey crowned, silver lame, and jewel dripping King Thranduil seems like a Malibu Thranduil doll–he is only lacking the gold mesh beach shirt–but I won’t. Ha! I despise King Thranduil. So Lee Pace has made his characterization work within the story. Snap!
The men of Lake-town–aka Esgaroth–are represented by men who are passionately good, as well as, men who are greedily self aggrandizing. Bard the Barge runner figures importantly in the plot, and is later known as Bard the Bowman (Trailer 1, my cap, right) –portrayed by Luke Evans–puts a human face on the cost of Middle Earth mayhem. As the widowed father of three children–two of them girls (more estrogen)–his actions are motivated not for king, nor for country, but for his family. On the flip side, we see the Master of Lake-town–portrayed by an unrecognizable Stephen Fry, but for his voice–greedily fleecing its citizens. And the only thing heroic about the Master is his comb over. Ha!
Finally, we have the new beasts–the skin changer Beorn, spiders, the dragon Smaug, and the Necromancer. Beorn–portrayed by Mikael Persbrandt–conveys animalistic qualities even in Beorn’s human form. Beorn is the last of his kind–his race a casualty of the evil growing in Middle Earth. The spiders of Mirkwood in THDofS are the size of minivans–with razor sharp teeth and multiple eyes. *shivers* The Orcs (Trailer 1, my cap right) are also still around and cause much mayhem throughout THDofS–and this is one Middle Earth species that I am glad we don’t see the female versions of. Ha! But it is the much anticipated visual reveal of the dragon Smaug–portrayed vocally by Benedict Cumberpatch–that everyone has been waiting for. The dragon is cool–visually and vocally! Cumberpatch as Smaug taunts and teases, threatens and tantrums. Bilbo’s interactions with the spiders and with Smaug are where Bilbo earns his Dwarven boulders designation. Ha! And the Necromancer–also portrayed/voiced by Benedict Cumberpatch–is a wispy figure with menacing intent. The aphorism “where there is smoke, there is usually fire” seems to fit here–because this smoke has teeth.
- That THDofS ending: All I will say is that, just like with your mother-in-law, never purposefully tick off a fire breathing dragon. It won’t be pretty. *wink*
And now we have to wait a whole year for film 3, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”. Sighhhhh! I want to see it now! Ha!