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Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The-Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey-PosterPeter Jackson does find some success with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” but not as a whole, relegating it to the shadows of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Dwarves once lived the good life, enjoying a thriving society, but then in came the dragon Smaug, who claimed Erebor for himself, nestling into their mid-mountain pile of gold for a nap and turning the dwarves into a nomadic people. Years later, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a band of 13 dwarves decide it’s time to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, but before they can set out on their adventure, they need one more member for their company – a burglar and he must be a smart and stealthy hobbit.

Gandalf recruits the reluctant Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a once daring young hobbit who’s now too set in his ways to venture out of The Shire. However, when Bilbo shocks the group – or most of the group – by opting to tag along, all are thrilled to have a completed team except for their leader, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). War-torn and emotionally wounded, his goal to take back Erebor is all-consuming and he’s prepared to plow through treacherous terrain, battle trolls and orcs, and even the notorious Azog (Manu Bennett) to do it.

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‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Seeing the Film

The-Hobbit-SDCC-PosterIt’s been nine years since the final Lord of the Rings film hit theaters, but the time has finally come to return to Middle-earth. Much will be the same, but there have also been some big changes happening during director Peter Jackson’s 266 days of filming on the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the novel puts the focus on the character of Bilbo Baggins, the uncle of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) in LotR. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, a much younger Bilbo (played by Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf the Grey (again portrayed by Ian McKellen) to join 13 dwarves – including the warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) – for an adventure filled with Goblins, Orcs, Wargs and more.

In honor of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s December 14th debut, Jackson, producer Philippa Boyens, visuals effects supervisor Joe Letteri, cast members Freeman, Armitage, McKellen, Wood and motion-capture actor/second unit director, Andy Serkis (Gollum), came out to discuss the thrill of revisiting the beloved world, changes Lord of the Rings fans can expect and more.

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Review: Hugo

Part of the beauty of filmmaking, is the ability to transport viewers to another reality. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès seized the opportunity to put stop tricks and painted film cells to use, combining his skills as a magician and filmmaker to, quite literally, bring dreams to life. Ultimately, we’re still doing the very same thing today, but with the wildly advanced technology and more thorough understanding of storytelling, director Martin Scorsese has created one of the most successful attempts at bringing an audience into the movie with Hugo.

It’s the 1930s in Paris, France. After losing his father (Jude Law) in a terrible fire, young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is forced to live with his only relative, his uncle, Claude (Ray Winstone). A far from responsible drunk, Claude pulls Hugo out of school and shows him the ropes at work, teaching Hugo to keep the clocks running at a Paris train station. And it’s a good thing, too, because when Claude leaves Hugo to his lonesome, it’s up to Hugo to keep things timely.

When he isn’t tending to his train station duties, Hugo is hard at work at the one thing his father left behind, an automaton. Hugo regularly snatches up food and milk from the train station vendors and also frequents grumpy old Georges Méliès’ (Ben Kingsley) toy stand, a place prime for automaton part collecting. When Méliès catches Hugo in the act, he demands the boy empty his pockets. Amidst the usual mess of rogue toy parts is a notebook with automaton drawings and instructions that oddly rub Méliès the wrong way. When Méliès takes Hugo’s precious notebook, Hugo turns to Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), for help and the two discover they have a lot to offer one another, Isabelle helping Hugo get his automaton up and running and Hugo giving Isabelle a taste of adventure.

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