Tag Archives: The Hobbit


Movie Editor Hoax: The Not-So-Ace A.C.E.s

Lee Smith A.C.E. and Jabez Olsson. I write these names in order to expose a cruel hoax in the films of 2012. You see, these fellows are credited as ‘Editor’ on two of last year’s longest, most self-consciously epic films—The Dark Knight Rises (165 minutes), and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (169 minutes). And while I thought both were very good, the idea that they were edited at all is plain false advertising.

It gets worse. Smith and Olsson have supposedly ‘edited’ Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson’s previous films. And an entire generation of these directors’ fans may suffer irreparable gastro-intestinal problems from not visiting the washroom during their bloated run-times. And that’s just in the theatres—because we all known Jackson can’t resist putting yet more footage somehow edited from the film (so Olsson at least showed up for work one day)—into his DVD releases, extending them several times over and meaning that his devotees probably have spent small fortunes and entire days viewing his handful of films.

An entire generation may suffer irreparable gastro-intestinal problems from not visiting the washroom during these films’ bloated run-times.
Films used to come in all shapes and sizes—a greater variety than we now see. For every 9 hour 22 minute colossus like Abel Gance’s 1927 Napoleon, there were many more films of an hour or less. Obviously, the rise of television made it unlikely that an audience would pay good money for a 65-minute B-movie. There was still a worry about bored audiences, though, and commercial imperatives shimmied films into the 80-120 minute range. The Hammer films tended to be over after 80-odd minutes (which nowadays you’ll only see when a film’s been disastrously re-edited because of poor test screenings). For the frequently penny-pinching horror merchants, it allowed a quick shoot for cinematic pocket change and multiple films a year. James Bond’s first three films all clocked in at under two hours. Among the many post-mortems on the diminished success of George Lazenby’s Bond outing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the theory was offered that it made a bit less than Thunderball and You Only Live Twice because, at 140 minutes, it played fewer times a day than its predecessors, and thus took longer to get into the black (although its $22 million US grosses come out to $124.8 million in 2012 money, i.e. more successful than The Bourne Legacy ($113.2 million). So George Lazenby kicked Jeremy Renner’s ass… fact!).

Let’s get back on topic. After the experimental not-quite-success (but-still-Bourne-ass-kicking) O.H.M.S.S., the next epic-length film of the popcorn-flick persuasion was probably Richard Donner’s genre-redefining Superman (1978). Around the same time, little-known filmmaker George Lucas made a certain virtually forgotten space-set film that (accidentally) stumbled on a way to tell your epic story while keeping the studio big-shots’ coffers full: dividing it up into a trilogy. Ironically, at the same time the movie adaptation of a certain fantasy trilogy that may have given ol’ George the idea was having its wings clipped by a nervous studio. Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings (1978) had its ‘Part One’ subtitle removed after execs worried it would put punters off. Bakshi claims that this probably caused the hostility towards his film—the audience expected the whole story and came away feeling short-changed.

In that sense, what we have now is almost the worst of both worlds. Many tongues wagged cynically at the decision to change The Hobbit from two instalments to three, and cries of ‘marketing ploy’ were legion. But the movies themselves are long as well.

skyfall trailer screencap 13

Here in 2014, the rubble of that late-70s pop culture explosion is still strewn around us (and likely to remain so, to judge all the fevered speculation about the new Disney-produced Star Wars). Funnily enough, despite the media rhetoric that people’s attention spans are getting shorter (in which case putting this paragraph here was a big mistake), it strikes me that stories are getting longer. Most television drama tells one long story across six, ten, or thirteen hours. The most convincing masochism in Fifty Shades of Grey is the damn thing’s page-count (514 pages). And let me remind you of fellow multiplex run-time abusers: Sam Mendes’ Skyfall (143 minutes), Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (165 minutes), Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (150 far worthier minutes), and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (158 more tuneful minutes). If you’ve perused even a bit of TV’s fictional output over the past few years, you may find your life significantly shorter.

My personal epiphany hit when I happened to catch two re-releases a while back: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lawrence of Arabia. Stanley Kubrick and David Lean, two supremely long-form storytellers, I think crystallized that notion that a longer movie is a better one. And it’s about the most obvious observation ever that Kubrick’s icy Steadicam misanthropy and Lean’s loving aerial vistas and Dickensian detail are clear influences on both fellows (even if The Dark Knight Rises is more A Tale of Two Cities than Great Expectations). If the road to cinematic hell is paved with homage, then is it too much to blame these unassailable auteurs for today’s overcooked cinematic banquets?

The Dark Knight Rises could mislay an hour without comment – I’d put Matthew Modine’s useless police chief at the top of my cutting room floor.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying the longeurs. For all its visual inventiveness and perfect casting, The Hobbit could have trimmed or conflated a good two or three beasts and traps for its travellers. The Dark Knight Rises could mislay an hour without comment (I’d put Matthew Modine’s useless police chief at the top of my cutting room floor). It wouldn’t just be the buttocks of their millions of attendees that would be better off. Both films would work better for their shorter run times. And I strongly feel that it would take nothing away from their undoubted ambition and quality.

I offer a pearl of smutty wisdom so inevitable it could come from Carry On Film Editing: longer isn’t necessarily better (ooh, missus!). Editing is good. The best editors do more than just ensure continuity and alternation between wide shots and close-ups. They set the tempo of the film. Any film school boffin will tell you about that incredible moment in Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925) when the cut from a prone lion to an upright one creates a jarring sense of movement and action, and also serves as a symbol for the film’s theme of revolutionary fervour. The Soviet experiments where an actor’s expressionless face cross-cut with shots of a bowl of soup, a child, and a woman—and perceived as hungry, sad, and lustful by test audiences—have never been empirically traced, but sound about right. More recently, the iconoclastic editing of Jean-Luc Godard’s nouvelle vague films—where continuity was disregarded, hand-held long-take improvisation ruled the roost, and scenes ended randomly—contributed so much to the rebellious freshness of that genre.

I think it’s time for the nouvelle vague to come back into vogue. Let’s make them short, sharp, and inexplicable. I’d like to see Batman lounging around someone’s apartment making up lines about her break-up. I’d like Gandalf’s latest speech to cut off mid-inspiration for some irrelevant low-angled night-shots of Mordor. If we’re being honest, I think we’d all much rather see that than the more-likely alternative: an Abel Gance-aspiring 14-hour Superman movie.


Five Film Editors Lee Smith A.C.E. and Jabez Olsson could learn a thing from


  1. Verna Fields (Jaws, Paper Moon, Daisy Miller)—known in Hollywood by the presumably well-meant but horrible-sounding honorific ‘the Mother Cutter’
  2. Anne V. Coates (another prolific editor with everything from Becket and Murder on the Orient Express to Chaplin and Erin Brokovich—and most notably considering the above, Lawrence of Arabia)
  3. Peter Hunt (James Bond editor from Dr. No to You Only Live Twice turned director for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
  4. Susan E. Morse A.C.E. (a huge number of Woody Allen films from Manhattan to Celebrity)
  5. Agnes Guillemot (Alphaville, RoGoPaG, Vivre sa Vie)



Sauron Sends Copyright Lawyers After Hobbit Pub

Frodo and Samwise might have made it through Mordor and successfully destroyed the One Ring, but it seems that Sauron had one last trick up his sleeve.

In a move described by Stephen Fry as “self-defeating”, The Hobbit copyright holder Saul Zaentz Company is suing a small pub in Southampton over its name and decor.

Sauron Sends Copyright Lawyers After Hobbit PubWhile it might seem like a case of a Hollywood giant stamping on the little man, Mr Zaentz disagrees, telling the BBC that his actions were dictated by trademark law.

“Regardless of the size of the company, if we didn’t go after these infringements, then other people would say ‘if they can use them without authorisation, why can’t we? When it’s an established business, we like to get the company to acknowledge they are using our trademarks, stop selling infringing articles and then we will grant them a licence for a nominal fee – approximately $100 a year.”

However, it might not all be bad news for the “The Hobbit” public house in Bevois Valley, which features “Frodo” and “Gandalf” cocktails on its menu.

“We asked to them to contact us and amicably resolve this and are open to any suggestions they have. I’d be glad to raise a pint with them the next time I’m over.”

The pub has been trading as “The Hobbit” for 20 years, and while The Lord of The Rings films and the coming adaptation of The Hobbit, by New Line Cinema, are licensed from SZC, the pub isn’t. Fortunately there has been plenty of support from patrons and Facebook, while freehold owners Punch Taverns are “currently consulting with our legal advisers.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as Sherlock in 2013

Sherlock Series 3 Shoots in 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as Sherlock in 2013

Sherlock is looking likely to return next year, with executive producer Beryl Vertue reporting that it will begin filming in “early 2013″.

Vertue – Sherlock creator Steven Moffat’s mother-in-law – was speaking to the BBC’s in-house publication Arial.

The wait until 2013 is of course due to the filming and publicity commitments of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman with the new Star Trek movie and The Hobbit. Cumberbatch is cast as a villain in the second Star Trek reboot movie as well as voicing Smaug in The Hobbit; meanwhile Freeman will play the most well-known of the Bagginses, Bilbo.

Fans are hoping that the answer to the riddle of Sherlock Holmes’ apparent suicide – from which he was later shown to have escaped – will be revealed when the critically-acclaimed show returns.


Connolly Puts Footprint on Hobbit Film

Billy Connolly takes the role as a dwarf warrior named Dain Ironfoot in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Conolly, who is best known for more comedic turns, joins a cast which includes names such as Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Sylvester McCoy, Ian Mckellen and Christopher Lee.

Writer/producer Peter Jackson stated that with this announcement, the casting for the first Hobbit film is complete:

“We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dain Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of Dwarves, than Billy Connolly, the Big Yin himself, with Billy stepping into this role, the cast of The Hobbit is now complete. We can’t wait to see him on the Battlefield!”

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released on 14th December 2012.

(Via SFX)

Hobbit Casting Shut Down

It is always nice to have a little extra people show up when you are trying to find someone that fits in with a project, it heightens your chances of getting the right person for the job.

However, there can be too much of a good thing, as production company 3Foot7 found out when they had to recently shut down a casting call for extras for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

It was estimated that around 1,200 people might show up for the chance to become an extra in the film. They were looking for people of both tall and diminished stature, including women with ‘Character faces’, women with long hair, men with character faces and men with large biceps.

Instead the number of hopefuls swelled to over 3,000 bodies, enough of a crowd to call in the police to handle them. Although the grounds were large enough to handle the crowds, they began to become concerned for public safety as expressed by event organizer Chris Ryan:

“There’s a lot of parking there and there’s actually quite a lot of room, but as the day went on basically the line got so long, It was just starting to cause a few problems on the motorway, people slowing down and looking at the crowds, really, I think more than anything else.”

The search for extras for The Hobbit will continue online.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will reach cinemas on the 14th of December 2012.

(Via The Guardian)


Bad Guy Benedict!

Fans of Sherlock might well wonder if there will ever be a third series after the latest news concerning the ever-burgeoning career of star Benedict Cumberbatch.

Not content with voicing the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit, the Doctor Who-shunning actor has been cast as the villain in the new Star Trek movie, a sequel to the 2009 reboot starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

According to Variety,

Cumberbatch landed the role that Edgar Ramirez had auditioned for last month.

Benecio Del Torro (License to Kill) is also thought to have auditioned but turned the part down. Also cast is Alice Eve (daughter of Doctor Who fan-baiting Trevor Eve) and Doctor Who’s Noel Clarke. Meanwhile, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) is expected to reprise his role of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott.

What this means for Sherlock we have yet to see, but with Martin Freeman tied up throughout 2012 with filming and promoting The Hobbit

Red Dwarf: Craig Charles to Appear at SFX Event

Craig Charles, who plays Dave Lister on Red Dwarf, which is currently filming it’s tenth season for release in 2012, will be at an upcoming SFX Weekender in February of next year.

Charles will be displaying his DJ skills at the event as well, something he does weekly on BBC Radio Six with a Funk and Soul orientated show. This is not the first time he has been a DJ at an SFX event as Charles himself notes:

“I did last year’s SFX at Camber Sands and loved it, we raised the roof on the place. It was a real party, all these mad people crashing on the stage, sparks flying everywhere – the special effects were wicked. I use CD and vinyl, so I will be taking along my Trunk of Fun. I’ll work out the set beforehand but then  just see what happens.”

Charles also talked about how it feels to be back playing Dave Lister again:

“Once I’ve got the jacket, trousers and boots back on, and the dreadlocks, I’ll be back as Lister – the clothes are part of the character,.  I have been playing him so long he’s a part of me, though I’m not so slobby and my personal hygiene is better!

[Lister is]  unreconstructed, he’s laddish, he’s not PC, but he’s got a heart of gold in him, there’s never a dull moment when he’s around.”

Charles also briefly touched on what to expect in Red Dwarf X:

“The scripts are proper funny, each with independent stories, not a series, we will be the grumpy old men of space, though Cat (Danny John Jules) is still cool, I think Danny was born cool!”

Other “cool” guests at this event include both Hattie Hayridge and Norman Lovett, who both played the computer Holly at one time in the Red Dwarf series, as well as many other science fiction and UK cult figures such as Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who, The Hobbit), Eve Myles (Torchwood),  Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) and Brian Blessed (Doctor Who, Flash Gordon, Blake’s 7, Star Wars).

The event will take place at Prestatyn Sands holiday camp in Wales from 3-4 February 2012, with a pre-party for early birds on the night of 2 February 2012.

Tickets for the event can be purchased by following this link.

(Via Daily Post)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer

The trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has arrived:

An Unexpected Journey stars such UK cult figures as Martin Freeman (Sherlock), Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings), Stephen Fry, Sylvestor McCoy (Doctor Who), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Aiden Turner (Being Human).

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released on the 14th of December 2012.

The Hobbit: Small Leader

For the last week or so promo images have been released showing some of the major player in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now we have our first look at Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves and the wielder of the sword Orcrist, the Goblin cleaver:

Thorin Oakenshield is played in the film by Richard Armitage, who has appeared in Spooks and Robin Hood.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released in the Uk on the 14th of December 2012.

(Via SFX)

Images Of The Hobbit

MSN posted an exclusive new photo of the cast of Peter Jackson’s first film in The Hobbit series An Unexpected Journey. It joins two other promotional pics as some of the first official images released of the film and it’s actors.

The new photo shows Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Dean O’Gorman as Fili and Kili, a pair of dwarfs:

Two of the youngest Dwarves, Fili and Kili have been born into the royal line of Durin and raised under the stern guardianship of their uncle, Thorin Oakensheild. Neither has ever travelled far, nor ever seen the fabled Dwarf City of Erebor. For both, the journey to the Lonely Mountain represents adventure and excitement. Skilled fighters, both brothers set off on their adventure armed with the invincible courage of youth, neither being able to imagine the fate which lies before them.

The previous photos released photos were also re-posted with accompanying information.

Jed Brophy as Nori, Adam Brown as Ori and Mark Hadlow as Dori in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Photo by James Fisher)

These three brothers, all sons of the same mother, could not be more different from each other. Dori, the oldest, spends much of his time watching out for Ori, the youngest; making sure he’s not caught a chill or got himself killed by Wargs or Goblins. Nobody quite knows what Nori gets up to most of the time, except that it’s guaranteed to be dodgy and quite probably, illegal. Dori, Nori and Ori are intensely loyal to each other – and whilst they are perfectly happy fighting amongst themselves, woe-betide anyone who means harm to one of these brothers.

John Callen as Oin and Peter Hambleton as Gloin in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Photo by James Fisher)

Distant cousins of Thorin Oakenshield, these two doughty, Northern Dwarves join the Company out of a sense of loyalty to their kin, and also because they have a substantial sum of money invested in the venture. Along with Bombur, Gloin is the only other married Dwarf in the Company (there being a shortage of female dwarves in general). His wife is an acclaimed beauty with a particularly fine beard. Gloin is the proud father of a young son, Gimli, who will go on to become part of the famous Fellowship of the Ring.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will open in the UK on the 14th of December 2012.

(Via MSN Entertainment)