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Posts Tagged ‘Hobbit’


The dwarves see the ruins of Dale – the Desolation of Smaug.
Source: RichardArmitageNet.

 

Ok so that might be a slight exaggeration but on Saturday I finally saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It seems that working for a living is not conducive to visiting the cinema on the day a film is released. When I saw An Unexpected Journey last year I came out of the cinema feeling rather overly emotional. This time I wasn’t moved to tears but that doesn’t mean I was unaffected by it.

 

I watched the film in glorious HFR and I can’t tell you what relief I felt when the Warner Brothers logo appeared. I felt like I was melting into the screen as my eyes settled into the beautiful world of Middle-earth. The 3D trailers shown before it were dire at best and I’ll never understand how anyone can enjoy watching standard 3D. If Spiderman is going to swing through the air then I would at least hope to see him swing smoothly rather than some bizarre stuttering effect where it feels like I’m watching each individual frame frozen for a split second as it flits past the lens of the projector. Also, in each of the trailers it appeared as if the 3D was just there because it could be. It didn’t add anything to the image and, if anything, seemed to be an excuse to blur everything that wasn’t in the foreground. In the end I had to look away because it strained my eyes. The HFR was, as I said, a relief.

 

This time around it didn’t take me any time to adjust to the HFR because it just felt so natural. I once again felt the urge I experienced last year and wanted to get out of my seat and step into Middle-earth. The 3D, so obvious and in your face in the trailers, seemed simply to enhance the beauty and spectacle. By the end of the film I’d forgotten I was watching in 3D and the harsh reality of the cinema lights and the real world were not at all welcome.

 

To me, this kind of cinema experience is what it’s all about. The escapism, the sense that you’ve been somewhere else for three hours, the slightly trippy feeling when you step back outside, all add to the sheer enjoyment of watching a truly wonderful film.

 

There were moments in the film that made me want to clap and shout with joy and there were moments that filled me with foreboding. I nearly shouted out when I spotted Peter Jackson at the very beginning mainly because I was so pleased with myself for having actually seen him. I usually miss stuff like that! I also wanted to applaud when Bombur showed us that he may be the tubbiest dwarf but he ain’t half got some moves on him! I’m not scared of spiders but even I had to look away a couple of times because they just looked a little too real! And, some pretty little bees flew out of the screen but because bees and wasps really do terrify me, I had to look away again.

 

Thorin reveals his identity in Lake Town. Source: RichardArmitageNet.

 

But what of Thorin? Still fierce, still drawing my eye and still beautifully acted by Richard Armitage. The memories of him I will take away are too numerous to mention but include him eating in the Prancing Pony, his speech in Lake Town, him with Thranduil, the stamping of his boot as he stopped the key from falling, the wheelbarrow surfing, his goading of Smaug and so much more.

 

Ah yes, Smaug. The intelligent and charming fire-breathing winged beast. Well, Smaug blew me away. Figuratively, not literally. What Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do with his voice is not worth doing quite frankly!

 

The beauty of the film is the thing that will live with me the longest. The awe-inspiring New Zealand landscape was breathtaking but so was everything else. The rooftops of Bree, the squalor of Lake Town, the magnificence and grandeur of Erebor – they all left me wanting to see more.

 

So why the desolation of my mind? When I left the cinema I wandered around the shops in a bit of a daze. Everywhere I went I imagined I could still hear it: the gentle thrum of Middle-earth still buzzing in my mind. I could hear the different languages, the Black Speech of the Orcs, Khuzdul and Elvish. It was as if I was on the edge of a rift between two worlds. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Doctor Who …

 

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When I decided to write a blog, I made a conscious decision not to blog about Richard Armitage. It’s no secret that I’m a great admirer of his, some might go so far as to say I’m a wee bit obsessed; however, in the ever-expanding Armitage blogosphere I decided that I had nothing meaningful to add. Selfishly I wanted to write about myself and the things that are important to me. I may have mentioned him once or twice along the way but essentially my blog is “Something about Kathryn”.

 

So … I’m not about to turn this into an Armitage blog but if I’m going to write about what’s important to me then he does have to be up there. He’s not on the same level as my family history, but, given a recent interest I’ve developed in another fine British actor, I find myself questioning why I’m so fascinated with Armitage and some others. Ultimately I’m questioning why they’re so important to me.

 

So who are these men? Yes, unsurprisingly they’re all men … and actors too. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr there will probably be no surprises here – well maybe one:

Richard Armitage – no surprises. Known for The Hobbit, Spooks, Robin Hood, North & South.

David Tennant – an old favourite. Known for Doctor Who, Hamlet, Broadchurch, Casanova.

Benedict Cumberbatch – a growing attraction. Known for Star Trek Into Darkness, Sherlock, The Hobbit, Parade’s End, War Horse.

Tom Hiddleston – a new fascination. Known for Thor, The Avengers, The Hollow Crown, Midnight in Paris, War Horse, Return to Cranford.

 

Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks. Source.

 

I was first drawn to Richard Armitage whilst watching Spooks. An avid Spooks fan from the very beginning it was only at the end of series 9 that I realised quite how involved I’d become in the story of Lucas North / John Bateman. To cut a long story short, I think it’s fair to say that it was the Spooks fandom that drew me in but ultimately the Richard Armitage fandom that claimed me. I found myself hopelessly drawn to his other work, but it wasn’t just the characters that I was interested in. I found, as have so many others, that his charm, compassion, humour, talent, and unbridled enthusiasm for his work had me hooked. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that his good looks helped but, if I’m honest, he only became so attractive to me when I knew more about him as a person, or at least what he wants us to know. His use of language in interviews was probably my undoing – I’m such a sucker for a man who uses words and phrases that are missing from my own vocabulary – and he’s a self-confessed geek which is always a winner for me.

 

David Tennant as Doctor Who. Source.

 

Now, I’d been interested in David Tennant’s work since I first saw him in Doctor Who. Geek personified! Looks wise, he’s not the type of man I would normally find attractive, but there’s something about a man with a sonic-screwdriver I find hard to resist (Matt Smith is not on my list but he’s a definite contender). Looking at the man behind the Doctor I found that his attractiveness, for me, lay in his wit, charm, talent, eloquence and compassion. I saw him on stage in Much Ado About Nothing and if I wasn’t bowled over before, I definitely was afterwards. Goodness only knows what will happen after I see him in Richard II. Finally, he inspired me to make a promise.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Source.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch is a strange one for me. For a long time, I kept seeing his face on Tumblr and was completely unable to understand the attraction that others felt for him. Then Sherlock happened. Geek personified – again – and a huge intellect too which I can’t resist. But then I realised that the man behind the detective had a great intellect too, was naturally witty, charming and wonderfully talented. Because of him, I intend to go and see Star Trek (something I never thought I’d do), and have found that his unusual looks are becoming more attractive to me every day. Then I read things like this and fall a little bit further under his spell.

 

Tom Hiddleston at the Olivier Awards. Source.

 

If any of these are going to surprise you then I guess it would be Tom Hiddleston. He’s not someone I’ve ever really mentioned on Twitter and, until a few days ago, I’d never posted any pictures of him on Tumblr either. For some time I was uncomfortable with the crush I was quickly developing because apart from Return to Cranford I hadn’t seen any of his work. For the first time, it was the man not the characters that first drew me in. It was his Unicef blogs from Guinea that got me: long words, beautiful phrasing, wonderful compassion. And I found that was just the tip of the iceberg. He has all those things I’ve admired in others and he has them in spades. I discovered that he doesn’t actually look like Loki in real life, a look that does nothing for me at all, and has an infectious joy that creeps out of the screen and into your heart without you even noticing. I’ve decided to be honest about this new fascination because I think I now understand it better.

 

All these men show qualities that I hugely admire and find endlessly attractive. Yes they’re good-looking, but they’re all men whose looks did absolutely nothing for me when I first saw them, even Richard Armitage.

 

My first Armitage experience was actually Robin Hood. I watched all three series when it was first on the television and never once noticed Guy of Gisborne except as a character to be disliked. With both television and films I’m a very shallow viewer and will often miss the nuances of character that others thrive on. I didn’t like the character, and his long hair (each to their own but that wasn’t for me) meant I didn’t notice if he was good-looking.

 

So why are these men so important to me? I can confidently say these are not simply lustful obsessions. I’m drawn to certain characteristics especially intellect when matched with fun, kindness and decency. I seem to be attracted to men who I see as being intellectually superior to me. I look for the things that were missing in the past when my own intellect was a source of humour and derision. It’s only now that I realise that the behaviour of certain people in my past says more about their own insecurities than it does about mine.

 

If anyone was to ask me what I look for in a man, I could do a lot worse than point out the characteristics of these men who I so admire. I’m not looking for a man exactly like any of them, they just happen to epitomise the things I find most attractive. They’re important to me because they have qualities to admire, are inspiring in ways I cannot fully fathom, and because they bring me great joy.

 

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Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Middle-earth. Source: richardarmitagenet.com

 

I never read The Hobbit as a child … it was so far off my radar I wasn’t even aware it existed. I was raised on a diet of Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons and a book called The Chipmunks of Willow Wood by Elleston Trevor. I don’t think I read any fantasy fiction until I discovered Terry Pratchett when I was at university. Aged 40, I still haven’t read any Tolkien but that may change before too long.

 

In a failed attempt to curb my impatience for The Hobbit, I recently re-watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw the films when they were first released and loved the first one before getting somewhat bogged down in the other two. Second-time round, and most probably as a result of a growing interest in Middle-earth nurtured by Peter Jackson’s video logs and the impending Hobbit-fest, I was completely enthralled by them.

 

And so to The Hobbit … never before have I spent so long anticipating the release of a film, or, for that matter, taken such an interest in the making of it. I admit, my initial fascination was with Richard Armitage but as time went on I genuinely became eager to see it for everything else it promised. Yesterday I was anxious, excited too, but worried that it wouldn’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, that I would struggle with the 3D, or that I would find myself looking at my watch.

 

So, I settled down with a big bag of pic’n’mix and a coke, waited for the lights to dim and for an instruction to don the 3D glasses.

 

3D glasses finally balancing precariously on my nose (always awkward when there’s already a pair of normal glasses there), two trailers were shown in normal 3D. The first, I couldn’t watch. I don’t know what it was for but I couldn’t focus on the screen and could feel it messing with my head. I looked away and waited for it to finish. This was reminiscent of my only other experience of 3D which caused a massive migraine. The second trailer, for Man of Steel, was fine, but I assume that was something to do with the speed of the action, as in it was slow. I remained confident in the assurances I’d heard that 48 fps would reduce the risk of migraine.

 

Then, The Hobbit started and right from the moment the Warner Brothers logo appeared on the screen it felt different. Yes, the first few minutes seemed a bit strange, but my eyes just seemed to relax into it and it became normal. Normal, but different! My eyes felt relaxed the entire time, I didn’t want to take the glasses off, I didn’t want to look away, and, most importantly, I didn’t have a headache!

 

I’ve seen reports saying the 48 fps makes the actors’ makeup obvious and the sets look like sets but I have to disagree. I’m no expert, but I was so immersed in Middle-earth it just seemed real to me. The 3D wasn’t about things jumping out at you, it was about giving the film depth and that, for me, is what worked so well. I began to wonder what would happen if I got out of my seat and stepped forward. I felt certain that if I did, I would walk into the true reality of this fantasy world and experience it for myself. It looked beautiful, familiar because of Lord of the Rings, but jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly stunning.

 

As for the actors … what actors? You mean, they’re not really dwarves, wizards, hobbits and such-like? Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to single out any one performance for being outstanding because I think they all were. I was struck by the individuality of the dwarves, each with their little foibles and nuances. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t especially struck with Thorin who was regal, princely, fierce and inspiring. I’d happily follow him on any quest! But, despite my obvious bias I loved each and every character. The advantage of not having read the book is that I had no preconceived idea about what they should look like or how they should behave, so I could accept Peter Jackson’s vision without any complaints.

 

Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield. Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield.
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

 

There were a couple of scenes that I’d heard Richard Armitage mention as being ones that had particularly moved him and watching them, I could understand why. I, like him, was moved to tears. In fact, when I left the cinema, I was sorely tempted to run back to my car and sob I felt so emotional, but alas, Christmas shopping beckoned.

 

The end of the film arrived all too quickly. I hadn’t once wondered about the time or yawned or wished it would hurry up and finish. I didn’t want it to end. Walking out, I could quite happily have walked straight back in and watched more, or simply watched it again. How I’m supposed to wait a whole year for the next one is beyond me!

 

I will go back to see it again. The 3D is something I won’t experience at home for a very long time so I want the opportunity to re-immerse myself in that world before I’m left with a 2D DVD as my only memento of what is honestly the best film I have ever seen.

 

At some point in the 2 hours and 46 minutes I was watching the film, I lost my heart. Not to a princely dwarf as you might expect (although he can have it any time he wishes), but to a whole world … Middle-earth.

 

 

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