Monthly Archives: December 2012

Year-End Update: Post-Release Hobbit Coverage, Best-Of Lists, New Videos

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

I know I’m very overdue to update here… the holidays are always challenging, and I’ve had to take on a lot of extra work hours to pay off various bills. I do hope to update my personal LJ soon with details of what I’ve been up to/going through lately, but for now, posting Hugo News is much easier. I did have a nice enough Christmas, thouh, and hope all of you did as well.

So let’s get right down to posting all of the new Hugo Weaving material that’s turned up since the last entry. Several websites have posted this 10 minute “generic interview” featuring Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Elijah Wood discussing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I’ve joked that it’s a same this interview is actually longer than any of their appearances in the film. 😉 At any rate, it’s probably the best of the Hobbit promo interviews apart from the Zealandia/Today piece– and you hear a lot more from Hugo in this one.

This video from TheOneRing.net (still the best source for all things LOTR/Hobbit online) features comments from Hugo (and many other cast members) on the Wellington red carpet:

Clevver Movies has combined the Hugo Weaving on-set interview for The Hobbit (which you’ve probably seen or compulsively re-watched by now) with trailer and BTS footage from other sources:


I’ll apologize for the dodgy background music in this video and the previous one right here. 😉

Melissa DiMarco posted this clip of Hugo discussing Cloud Atlas (probably NOT The Hobbit, despite the description on YouTube) at this past October’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Cloud Atlas:

There isn’t any major Hugo content in Peter Jackson’s tenth and final Production Video for The Hobbit: AUJ, but it’s well worth seeing and impossibly entertaining nonetheless. (You can see brief glimpses of Hugo at 7.30, 10.41, 12.20 and 12.35.) It details post-production, premiere prep and the Wellington premiere. PJ promises that they’ll pick right up with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug production videos next year.

I took a screencap of that bit at the end:


L to R: Peter Jackson (w/Cate Blanchett over his shoulder), Katie Jackson, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner and the top of Elijah Wood’s head.

Helpful fan linuxelf1 has reposted some One News NZ and Channel 3 clips to YouTube:

Press conference highlights:

Red Carpet interviews:

Interviews with other cast members can be viewed here and here.

Hugo has given a few brief solo interviews, though all are vague on contextual details (ie when and where they were conducted.) This one appeared in the American Airlines magazine American Way, of all places. Short but includes some priceless material both about elf ears and Hugo’s formative experiences as an actor. Full text under the cut:

Living a Fantasy

J. Rentilly
Playing an elf in this month’s The Hobbit is but the latest fanciful experience in actor HUGO WEAVING’s enviable career.

What is real and what is not was a key theme in The Matrix, the 1999 science-fiction epic that made a star of Hugo Weaving, who played the film’s nearly omniscient villain, Agent Smith. What is real now — more than a decade and roles in films like Lord of the Rings and Captain America later — is that the 52-year-old Weaving is the real deal: an actor of poise, presence and playfulness. Equally at home onstage performing Chekhov or battling evil as a lord of elves in this month’s Rings prequel, The Hobbit, Weaving chatted with American Way about the film’s secrecy, getting younger and those famous elf ears.

American Way: You’re no stranger to working in disguise, having worn a mask for the entirety of V for Vendetta and having played a woman twice (in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and this year’s Cloud Atlas). So how do you feel about the elf ears you’ve worn in the J.R.R. Tolkien films?

Hugo Weaving: To be honest, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be in the films to begin with. We all wanted pointy ears. They’re very light and you forget you’re wearing them — until you’re at the pub after a day’s shooting.

AW: What can you tell us about The Hobbit?

HW: My knowledge of what the film will be is really almost as limited as yours. I’m in the dark. There was a great deal of secrecy around this project, even for the actors.

AW: We do know you’ll be playing Elrond, your Lord of the Rings character, but 60 years younger.

HW: Thank God Elrond is 3,500 years old because I’m, of course, 10 years older [than I was when I made Lord of the Rings]. The makeup artists did these little wire-based attachments that pulled my skin back tight and gave me a bit of a face-lift. They were attached to my hair and tended to work for about half an hour until I started sweating, and then I’d feel the little wires snapping and half of my face would just collapse again.

AW: What made you want to be an actor?

HW: When I was about 9, living in South Africa, my parents took me to see “Romeo & Juliet,” the ballet, and the thing that really amazed me was the music. It was just extraordinary. After the ­ballet, my mother and I began to read Shakespeare together at night, and it wasn’t long before I had recruited all of my friends to dress up and act out scenes from the play. I guess you could say that was my first acting job.

Donna Demaio chatted with Hugo, Andy Serkis and James Nesbitt in an audio interview recorded at the Wellington premiere for 3AW.com.au. Unfortunately I can’t embed this, but you should definitely check it out; Hugo displays his standard mixture of effortless charm and refreshing honesty (“I hate red carpets”.) There’s more silly speculation about Hugo’s beard by the hosts; Hugo finds an ingenious way to answer this question (which I’ll let you hear for yourselves), but anyone who’s paid attention to Hugo’s career beyond the occasional big-budget film in the past 20 years knows he simply prefers having one. While he might wear one to disguise his appearance (though the fact that he wears it on most red carpets would spoil that “disguise”), there are photos of him with a beard between projects dating back to the early 90s, and it’s safe to say he tends to only shave for roles rather than vice versa in recent years. I find it a bit baffling that some fans and reporters can’t seem to get their head around this. Also, the project Hugo mentions he’ll work with David Wenham is The Turning, a compendium of short films based on Tim Winton’s thematically linked collection of short stories. Weaving will act in “The Commission”, which Wenham will direct. Cate Blanchett will costar in and direct another segment for the film, which promises to be one of the more intriguing of next year. (It’s slated to debut at the Melbourne International Film Festival in July.) The fact that Hugo divulged his piece hasn’t been filmed yet but would be soon might be the reason he opted out of all but the first Hobbit premiere. Or maybe it’s the hating red carpets thing. Either of which I completely respect. 😉

Other Hobbit coverage/articles/interviews of note include a primer on things you might want to know before seeing the film at The Philly Post, articles discussing the pros and cons of 48 FPS at The New York Times and Gizmodo.com.au, notes about the film’s gonzo box office (meaning the overly snotty critics aren’t making much of an impact) at HitFix, Flickering Myth,  a rebuttal to said snotty critics at Flickering Myth. Watch the Daily posed a video about the film’s special effects to YouTube. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit could be in the mix for special effects Oscars. Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis drop some tasty hints about the next installment (and the as-yet-unfilmed Battle Of Five Armies, which should require Hugo to appear on-set) at PanArmenian,net. There’s a lavish Italian-language TV preview at Sky Cinema (via YouTube) (Warning: Hugo is overdubbed, but this is the same interview footage from the WETA cast interviews, so one can follow along. Or learn Italian.) 😉 There’s another shameless plug for NZ tourism (with an interesting side-trip to the goldsmith who designed the jewelry for the films, including Hugo’s and That Other Ring 😉 at ioL Travel,  … And Flicks and Bits previews two For Your Consideration ads Warner’s has created for the film.

There are new reviews of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (positive or well-written/mixed) at Today Online, The MAD Challenge,   Movie Room Reviews, SantaBanta.com, Worlds Beyond, Rappler.com, Borg.com, Hall Twelve, Gone With The Twins, Jo Blo (JimmyO), Jo Blo (Chris Bumbray), City Press, SF Examiner, Adam Ryen Daniels, The Dispatch, Paste, The Movie Report, Movie Maniacs Man, AV Forums, PhilStar.com, Reel Life With Jane, Mr Film Reviewer, The Flick Chicks, Catoosa Times, The Review Judge, The Cinephile Diaries, Jason Watches Movies and The Fourth Wall.

…And Hugo’s projects have appeared in several year-end Best-Of lists, including The New York Times (STC’s Uncle Vanya), Female First (The Hobbit: AUJ), The Film Stage (Cloud Atlas), The New York Post (STC’s Uncle Vanya), Fox News (Cloud Atlas), The Age (STC’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Visalia Times-Delta (Cloud Atlas) and FirstShowing.net (Cloud Atlas).

Sydney Theatre Company included their recent production of Les Liaison Dangereuses, starring Hugo, Pamela Rabe and Justine Clarke in their year-end highlights.  Also, STC has added some very endearing new photos of Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh to their Waiting For Godot 2013 page. Hope some of you out there are able to get tickets/travel to Australia to see it.

One oddball (but very encouraging) Hugo-related story making the rounds of late was the unexpected (and to some, shocking) airing of V for Vendetta on Chinese television, apparently unedited. You can read more about that at Variety, and France 24. More good reviews of Cloud Atlas continue to trickle in as the film is gradually released worldwide. Overseas audiences tend not to have the same pseudointellectual academic pretensions as some US critics, though the film continues to divide audiences. (IMO, the smart ones willing to put in an effort from the stupid or hopelessly PC/culture snob) Anyhow, you can read recent reviews at Souls on Travels, Enter Your Movie  The film will premiere in the UK and Australia soon.

The Matrix is among the films selected this year for historic preservation by The National Film Registry; this means that the film is “judged to be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”, that “copies …are safeguarded and preserved for future generations ” and that they can no longer be shown in edited or altered forms. Maybe it also means we’ll be spared TNT’s chainsaw editing and hilarious language expurgations (ie Neo yelling “Jeepers Creepers! That thing’s real!?”) in future airings. 😉 More on the story at CBS Online, and of course The National Film Registry.

Finally, this lovely photo appeared on Graham McTavish’s Twitter feed:


“A rare shot of a dwarf and elf socializing”

If I’m not back before the New Year, hope all of you have a Happy New Year, and thanks for your patience and interest during another great year for Hugo Weaving fans. (Peevish fanboys and clueless critics aside… ) 😉

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New Hugo Weaving Interviews, Hobbit Coverage

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Apologies for my absence over the past week; I’ve been dealing with a tragedy involving my cats as well as other job and family responsibilities. I have kept a record of interesting new Hobbit material via my Twitter account when possible, and will try to compile some of the best new material that’s appeared since the last entry. Unfortunately, Hugo Weaving didn’t participate in any of the post-Wellington Hobbit premieres, including tonight’s Royal Premiere in London. I have no idea if this was a matter of personal choice or work commitment, but I’m not particularly surprised, as Hugo only attended one premiere each for the three Lord of the Rings films and has done more than his fair share of film promotion this fall, with Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opening in quick succession. Also, it should be remembered that Elrond is a relatively minor character in The Hobbit; Hugo probably thought the bulk of attention in publicizing the film should go to Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and the actors playing the Dwarves, as they’re much more central to the plot.

That said, Hugo has given several interviews for the film, solo and with other cast members. I’ll start with the Zealandia interview which ran on The Today Show last Friday, and featured Hugo alongside Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Elijah Wood. This is the only US TV interview to feature Hugo, probably because it was conducted in New Zealand just before the Wellington premiere rather than in New York last week. Hugo only gets about three sentences in, but they’re all great. 😉


(Note: Thanks to Richard Armitage Central for the YouTube version.)

Britain’s T4 featured interviews with the same groups of actors featured in earlier Australian media interviews, including Hugo Weaving/Cate Blanchett/Elijah Wood and Martin Freeman/Andy Serkis/Richard Armitage.

Hugo gave a solo text interview to the New York Daily News, and  Hugo and Cate Blanchett were jointly interviewed by Flicks and Bits; I’ll post the full text for both beneath the cut:

Hugo Weaving is back on familiar ground as Elrond in ‘The Hobbit’
Star from ‘The Matrix’ divides his time into big-budget films, art-house projects and theater work
BY ETHAN SACKS / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2012, 6:00 AM

UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2012, 2:18 PM

Australian actor Hugo Weaving plays Elrond in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’
WELLINGTON, N.Z. — Hugo Weaving comes across almost as mysterious as the ancient elf he portrays in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
In an interview with the Daily News a few hours before the movie’s world premiere in director Peter Jackson’s hometown, the 52-year-old actor seems reflective about returning as Elrond of Rivendell in the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings.”

 

“It feels like more than 10 years [since those movies], honestly,” says Weaving, sporting a grizzly beard that makes him look more like one of the film’s dwarves. “But it’s funny, in some ways it’s like slipping an old shoe on. … Certainly coming back here and seeing everyone again felt like no time had passed in some ways.”

 

Ask Weaving about having seen the film for the first time the previous evening, though, and he immediately reverts to the schoolboy who fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” “I felt like a little kid when I was watching it last night,” he says. “I thought this really takes you back to watching movies with big, wide eyes.”

 

Weaving has become one of the favorites to play the villain in blockbusters — such as Agent Smith in “The Matrix” movies, the voice of Megatron in “Transformers” or the Red Skull in last year’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” But the Australian-based actor never intended to become a Hollywood staple.

 

It just sort of happened after the critical acclaim that came out of his breakthrough turn as a drag queen in 1994’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
He felt uneasy signing on for what would become his signature role in “The Matrix” films, as the indomitable Agent Smith, until he read the now-famous interrogation speech in the script that felt like a scene from a play.

 

“Feels like I’ve run two or three different strands as an actor,” he says, devoting different parts of his year to national theater and art-house movies in his native Australia and big-budget international movies like this year’s “Cloud Atlas.”

 

“It’s really radically different worlds that I occupy at different times of the year, and I try to jump from one to another.”

 

He likes to meander in his career paths, but it’s no surprise Weaving ended up back in Rivendell.

 

“I always felt like when I left Wellington after ‘Lord of the Rings,’ I always knew I’d be back,” he said.

Note: The New York Daily News also interviewed Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood; you can read that article here.

***

Cate Blanchett & Hugo Weaving Interview For ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

 

 

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum (Andy Serkis). Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

 

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is the first of three films based on ‘The Hobbit’ novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The trilogy of ‘Hobbit’ films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before Jackson’s ’The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.  The release schedule for the three ‘Hobbit’ films are as follows: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is set for a December 13th release; ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ arrives in cinemas December 13th, 2013; and ’The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ concludes the trilogy on July 18th, 2014. My other interviews for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jounrey’ can be found through the following links: Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman and Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman and James Nesbitt (more to come). In the films Cate Blanchett plays Galadriel, while Hugo Weaving plays Elrond.

 

Q: Over a decade has passed since the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, how was it for you diving back into this Middle-earth universe and these beloved characters?

 

Cate Blanchett: I had no expectation that there would be anything more after the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I thought that was sort of the end of the journey – and my time on that trilogy was all too brief. I was there for three or four weeks, even though they shot for such a long time, I was only there for that amount of time. So when I heard that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh (producer/screenwriter) and Philippa Boyens (screenwriter) were going to embark upon ‘The Hobbit,’ I became a stalker (laughs), and I literally called my agent – and I don’t really bother my agent that much (laughs), but I called her pretty much everyday to say, “Is there any word yet? Is Galadriel going to be in it?” I kept getting the answer that Peter doesn’t know yet, because of course Galadriel doesn’t appear much in ‘The Hobbit’ book, so I was hoping against hope. And then when I got word that, in fact, she was going to be in a small section of it I was over the moon. It was a little bit like returning to Summer camp (laughs), in that so many of the people that were a part of the first journey are a part of this journey. It’s an amazing thing to be able to return to something that begun 12 years ago.

 

Q: With the White Council – which is comprised of Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel, can you tell us a little bit about them and the role they play in this story? Aside from Galadriel, the other members of the Council aren’t best pleased with Gandalf’s quest?

 

Hugo Weaving: Yeah. My character Elrond, the Elf Lord of Rivendell, he’s one of the older souls in Middle-earth and therefore he has vast experience and wisdom. I think there’s a great deal of respect between Elrond and Gandalf. But Gandalf is doing something Elrond doesn’t approve of by protecting Thorin and the dwarves. Elrond feels that if they go to the Lonely Mountain and awaken Smaug, that will just stir things up. But there is Gandalf’s other agenda too, and that’s a whole other problem to contend with. The White Council is essentially working towards a peaceful world and is mindful of the fact that there are forces around them which could, at any time, reignite and threaten their way of life.

 

Q: Galadriel is a vital ally to Gandalf….

 

Cate Blanchett: Yes. I would hazard a guess that our part of the story – the fact that Gandalf and Galadriel sense that something’s wrong – will have particular resonance and prescience of what is to come. The White Council just doesn’t see it. And what is noble and heroic about Gandalf and Galadriel is that they are prepared, together, to look the future in the eye. That’s what makes Gandalf the most wonderful hero, the courage, against popular opinion, to move into the darkness that no one else is prepared to go into.

Q: While ‘The Hobbit’ is an incredibly human story with fundamental and universal themes, it’s very much set in a fantastical world with fantastical characters. As an actor, how is that to portray and delve into….?

 

Hugo Weaving: We’re all dressed up and pretending, creating this world – and that’s the wonderful thing about it. That’s why you do it, you try to illuminate another reality, or illuminate another internal reality for a particular person or a group of people, create a whole new world. And in this sense it’s a really fantastical world, which has repercussions for who we are as people, even though they’re elves and dwarves and hobbits, there’s obvious parallels between the world which we inhabit and in which these characters inhabit. That’s a delight, it’s why we do it. For me this Middle-earth world is so interesting.

 

Q: How was it working with Peter Jackson again after all these years?

 

Cate Blanchett: Peter Jackson was the reason that I was so excited about being part of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. And of course Galadriel is just a tiny, weeny piece of the puzzle, and it’s such an extraordinary puzzle! It’s a puzzle that I really don’t think anyone other than Peter could have pulled together. He’s got such an extraordinary sense of the sublimely beautiful and the grotesque. The way he combines those two things, that’s utterly unique.

 

Hugo Weaving: Peter Jackson is an incredible man because he’s dealing with so many issues and characters, but then the big picture, that’s his focus. But at ground level he’s making smaller pictures, focusing on the minutia of each character, the details of each locations that are set in this larger world. From day to day dealing with all of those details, these films really suit his fantastic character (laughs). It’s been really lovely to come back and see people throughout the cast and crew whom we haven’t seen for so many years.

***

Bonus: Hitherto undiscovered Cloud Atlas interview featuring Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon:

Talk 2SV with Sandra Varner

25 Oct. 2012
CLOUD ATLAS’ Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving
A sunny day at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, they entered the room as easy as anyone, absent of ego and pomposity, also to their credit, happy to talk about one of this year’s most anticipated films, CLOUD ATLAS. I am referring to Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Nigerian born, British-influenced actor, Hugo Weaving (The Matrix movies).
Sitting across from them listening to the responses they give, you instantly recognize the love for their chosen craft, an appreciation for the life it affords them as well as the depth of character they bring to this cinematic journey that delves deliciously deep into the imagination.

 

In CLOUD ATLAS, Sarandon (Madame Horrox, Older Ursula, Yusouf Suleiman, Abbess) brings her own brand of fierce intelligence to every role she plays, from her acclaimed, fearless portrayal in “Bull Durham” to her Oscar®-nominated performances in “Atlantic City,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Lorenzo’s Oil” and “The Client,” to her Academy Award®-winning and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®-winning work in “Dead Man Walking.”

 

Among her numerous accolades, she recently received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her role in the HBO film “Bernard and Doris,” as well as Golden Globe and SAG® Award nominations in the same category. In 2010, Sarandon received Emmy and SAG® nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role opposite Al Pacino in HBO’s “You Don’t Know Jack,” directed by Barry Levinson. Her other HBO miniseries include “Mussolini: The Decline and Fall of Il Duce,” opposite Bob Hoskins and Anthony Hopkins, and James Lapine’s “Earthly Possessions,” based on the Anne Tyler novel.

 

Her more recent performances include the films “Arbitrage,” “Jeff, Who Lives at Home”; “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,”and Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones.” Sarandon also appeared on Broadway in 2009 in “Exit the King” and “An Evening with Richard Nixon.” She received critical acclaim for her Off-Broadway turn in “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talkin’” and the thriller “Extremities,” and also appeared Off-Off-Broadway in the moving post-September 11th stage play “The Guys.”

 

Among Sarandon’s additional feature credits are the Wachowskis’ “Speed Racer,” “Enchanted,” Mr. Woodcock,” Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah,” Romance and Cigarettes,” Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown,” “Alfie,” “Shall We Dance?,” “Moonlight Mile,” “The Banger Sisters,” “Igby Goes Down,” “Cradle Will Rock,” “Step Mom,” “Twilight,” “Safe Passage,” “Little Women,” “Bob Roberts,” “Light Sleeper,” “White Palace,” “A Dry White Season,” “The January Man,” “Sweet Hearts Dance,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Compromising Positions,” “The Buddy System,” “The Hunger” and “King of the Gypsies.”

 

CLOUD ATLAS casts Hugo Weaving as Haskell Moore, Tadeusz Kesselring, Bill Smoke, Nurse Noakes, Boardman Mephi, and Old Georgie. He is widely known for his role as Agent Smith in the Wachowskis’ highly acclaimed Matrix trilogy, for his starring role in “V for Vendetta,” and as Elrond in the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. He recently reprised the role of Elrond in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” in theatres in December. The film is the first of three movies Jackson will direct based on the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

 

He previously starred as Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull in Joe Johnston’s “Captain America” and in Johnston’s “The Wolfman,” and “The Keyman.” Weaving’s numerous credits in voice work include the characters of Megatron in Michael Bay’s blockbuster “Transformers” and its sequels, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”; as well as Noctus/Grimble in Zack Snyder’s “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”; Noah the Elder in George Miller’s award winning “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two”; and Rex the Sheepdog in “Babe” and its sequel, “Babe: Pig in the City.”

 

Weaving is the recipient of four Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, receiving the first in 1991 for Best Actor for his portrayal of a blind photographer in “Proof.” He received a nomination in the same category in 1994 for the role of Mitzi Del Bra in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Weaving won his second AFI Award for Best Actor in 1998 for his role in “The Interview,” for which he also received the 1998 Best Actor Award at the World Film Festival in Montreal. In 2005, his role in the critically acclaimed “Little Fish,” opposite Cate Blanchett and Sam Neill, earned Weaving his third AFI Award for Best Actor. In 2012, he was honored with his fourth AFI Award, for Best Supporting actor in “Oranges and Sunshine,” which also received the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

 

Excerpts from our conversation follow:

 

Talk2SV: There are rare times in an actor’s life when presented with material as imaginative as CLOUD ATLAS. And because of the creative storytelling, it is essential to have the right cast to pull off the very large scenes and sweeping themes in this movie that allow audiences to go along for the ride. How did you feel when you knew you were chosen for your roles in this film?

 

Sarandon: I said ‘yes’ before I even knew what the parts were because I just wanted the ride and I knew that it would be something special because of who they (the filmmakers) were. I read the book when I was making the movie, Speed Racer (in 2008, also a Wachowski film). I just thought that it’s an impossible task, you have these fabulous people and how great it would be to be part of Camp Cloud Atlas, to just go and jump and do it. We had a limited amount of time that I could give them and I just said, ‘I’m yours, whatever you can find for me, I’m happy to be there.’ Later, when I read the script, I was amazed that they’d managed to do it. Of course, they didn’t have to use the same actors in multiple roles but I think that’s the fluidity that makes it really special, it was so unusual. We all knew that something very special was happening no matter where it went. Just organizing it that way, these people had to have a certain spirit. You’re talking about Halle Berry and Tom Hanks who you know aren’t normally playing tiny parts; the spirit that they entered the project with was very, very special.

 

Weaving: If didn’t feel like everyone would be in the film for the ride of it, possibly it wouldn’t be. They very much needed people who were open souls and people whose work they liked. They had to be people who were open to possibilities, open to others, open to the journey that we were going to be making which is very much into a territory that filmmaking hasn’t really gone into before. So I think that spirit of inquiry and adventure, and the idea that it was a voyage, if the actors weren’t prepared to embrace that idea and not just embrace it but actually be eager to be part of that, then I don’t think Tom (Tykwer) or Lana or Andy would have the actors be there. That’s why we’ve got an incredibly harmonious and joyous group of people in this film. I mean, there are great names in this film, but it’s not just, well let’s get all these names and let’s do all this…let’s package this up and none of the people know each other or think alike or get on at all. This is a group that’s come together over time who has a similar sense of wonder and delight in exploring the world and trying new forms. That’s why this has been such a great experience for all of us and I think that desire and that joy translates onto the screen in a very physical way. That is the great thing that surprised me when I saw the film. I knew we had that, but the fact that it was somehow bubbling up in a very playful way, you don’t get that in film, and you don’t really get that sense of play …

 

Talk2SV: As you’ve alluded to, when you have a film that is huge and so different from what people know you for, sometimes actors are asked where did you go to detox as it were, where did you go to unwind? Given the rare experience CLOUD ATLAS presented, did you want to hold on to some aspect of your characters because in some aspects, they represent a sort of parallel life?

 

Sarandon: I wanted to hold on to the experience of ‘being there’ because as an actor, you can sometimes forget how much fun it is; you can forget that your characters are your way into learning something new and surprising you along with everything else. Occasionally, you work with people who are competitive and actually set out to make your job harder, I’ve run into that a little bit. But when you have this kind of very rare repertory company, I was sad to leave that experience. I hadn’t seen Lana and Andy in a long time, or Tom (Twyker). I hung out a little bit with Tom during Speed Racer and we’d keep in touch a little bit but I hadn’t seen them so I was really happy to be there. I felt very at home with the characters and was proud to be the bearer of those lines in this film, ‘our lives are now our own.’ It was nice to know those lines made it in the movie’s trailer. It felt really cool, I thought, ‘oh wow, I’m in the trailer,’ and I liked being the one who got to say that even if you don’t see me that much in the movie saying it. Then, the Wachowskis’ did the sweetest thing, when the film was finished; they flew the cast and crew to their home in Chicago so we could experience it (a screening of the movie) all together, privately. Just another example of how thoughtful they are.

Talk 2SV also featured a nice enlargement of one of Matt Carr’s TIFF portraits of Hugo:

Hugo is also quoted in the following cast interview compilations and Wellington premiere summaries:

Reuters: “You couldn’t not come back, you had to come back.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP: “[On differences between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings]This one feels lighter, more buoyant, but it’s got quite profoundly moving sequences in it, too … I think it’s very different in many ways, and yet it’s absolutely the same filmmaker, and you are inhabiting the same world.”

Pics of Hugo from the November 28 Wellington, NZ Hobbit premiere continue to appear; here are some that have bee posted online since I posted the last batch. Some are enlarged versions of previously posted images.


Mark Coote/Reuters (plus next one)


HD Magazine


Sunset64/Tumblr


Reuters


Briahna Patterson/BRI Photography via Twitter (plus next photo)

There’s a well-assembled compilation of all the official cast interviews (including Hugo’s) and appropriate behind the scenes footage here. Reviews on the Run features two Behind the Scenes previews (1, 2) which also include actor comments (though none from Hugo) and some unfortunate background music. 😉


Hugo Weaving and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

There are video interviews featuring cast members at the New York Premiere from Beyond The Trailer, and AP

Other Hobbit Articles: There are interviews with Andy Serkis at The Huffington Post, and Time Online,  with Peter Jackson at The Toronto Star, Entertainment Weekly and IBN Live, with Ian McKellen at The Guardian, with Martin Freeman at Flicks and Bits, still from the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, at Flickering Myth,  a behind-the-scenes overview from The Daily Mail, and a longer look at the Dwarves singing “The Misty Mountain” (aka “The Lonely Mountain”) at TheOneRing.net. Slant Magazine highlights key scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And The Hollywood Reporter suggests the film will open at $70 million despite some jaded, been-there-done-that critical appraisals.


Hugo Weaving and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I’m not going to compile Hobbit reviews as thoroughly as I did Cloud Atlas reviews because a. there are far too many, and b. the criticism tends to be the same across the board, with negativity focused on the film’s pacing/being stretched out from the original novel as well as the HFR technology, which many find jarring or too photorealistic/unflattering of the film’s artifice in places. But I’ll share positive or well-written mixed reviews. Recent ones worth a look include The Telegraph, The Huffington Post (Mark Ryan), The Huffington Post (Marshall Fine), The Hollywood News, Ror Reviews, Middletown CT Patch, Wired, TimesCall.com, Flickering Myth, TodayOnline, and The New York Post.

And more Cloud Atlas reviews (and rebuttals against some of the absurd critical and identity politics charges) can be read at CCD Blog, Saratoga Falcon, Yahoo Movies, Awards Daily, Mr Lee Curtis, and an article on the film’s makeup and its Oscar potential can be read at Variety.

DVD Talk posted another belated but flattering review of Last Ride.

I’m still planning to attend the local midnight screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tomorrow night should no further crises occur. I’ll post my response afterward. My expectations aren’t as astronomical as some fans and critics’ seem to have been: I never saw making The Hobbit as essential, and always felt it was a less substantial novel than LOTR, if amusing. That said, if Hugo felt it merited his participation, I’m cautiously optimistic– if anything, Hugo has proved this year that he won’t tell people only what they want to hear if he doesn’t personally buy it. 😉 When asked about how his role might expand when it was announced The Hobbit would become three films, he said, “For a number of reasons, they decided that there are three films in there.  I hope there are.  I don’t know.”  That’s about how I feel.

Some critics have suggested maybe there aren’t three films in there… I reserve judgment. I had no issue with the expanded editions of LOTR, which added dialogue and character development which enhanced my experience of the story. But I have seen films– particularly sequels and prequels– which did pointlessly rehash material in earlier films in an attempt to recapture their glory or endear fans rather than because there was an organic reason for that material to exist. Nothing I’ve seen so far makes me especially worried. I’m slightly annoyed at the attempts at whimsy and knockabout comedy, but they’re true to the tone of Tolkien’s book, which was more of a children’s story than LOTR. If anything, Peter Jackson has omitted some of the more egregious bits of the original. (No singing Elves, thank God!) I know there’s enough Elrond material in Tolkien’s oeuvre to justify a lot more Hugo content, but am not sure how much of it PJ and co have the rights to. (The Silmarillion is off the table.)

Hugo has hinted he expects the Battle of Five Armies to figure in the second (or third?) film, and that he’ll probably have to film additional scenes in the coming year. The fact that a stunt double had to be enlisted for Hugo’s work in The Desoltation of Smaug (you can read stunt double/sword technician Steven McMichael’s interview in The Calgary Sun) suggests Elrond will have more to do that sit around reading star charts and doling out advice to ungrateful Dwarves the next time around. 😉


Hugo Weaving and Steven McMichael on the Hobbit set/Calgary Herald photo

On a personal note, I’d like to thank all my friends on Twitter and LJ who expressed support and condolences this week as certain events unfolded; I’m going to tell that story more fully on my personal LJ when I’m emotionally prepared to, but wanted everyone to know that their kindness has meant a lot during a very difficult time.

New Hobbit Video Clips, Interviews as New York Premiere Approaches

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

No, I sill have no idea if Hugo Weaving will be attending the New York premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this evening; he hasn’t been doing US media appearances, but as I mentioned in a previous entry, he doesn’t tend to appear on US talk shows much anyhow, and Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Elijah Wood are performing most of those duties– quite entertainingly too.

I’ll add links to all their recent interviews in a moment, but wanted to share a few videos in which Hugo does appear. The first, which just debuted via the LA Times, is a one-minute scene from the film featuring The White Council (Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel) discussing Gandalf’s premonitions. This isn’t terribly spoilery (especially to anyone who’s seen LOTR), but might include a substantial amount of some of these actors’ full screentime in the film, you should decide for yourselves how much you want revealed in advance. As of this moment, I can’t embed the clip, but will add it the moment some kind soul uploads it to YouTube. Meanwhile, do click on the link.

Fortunately two new behind the scenes compilations are available for embedding; the first is a fairly official-looking overview of the making of An Unexpected Journey, including footage not seen in the previous Production Diaries and official cast interviews. Hugo is briefly seen at 8.52.

Here’s a WETA Workshop profile which includes comments from the Wellington premiere, including Hugo:

Air New Zealand also has a shorter, exclusive making- of which focuses on location filming. Since all of the Rivendell sequences were shot on a sound stage, Hugo isn’t in this one.

Other new TV interviews: Peter Jackson was on Today this morning and will appear on The Colbert Report tonight. (There are also exclusive online clips featuring Jackson at MSNBC here and here.) You can view Stephen Colbert’s interviews with Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman at Colbertnation.com. (Since Colbert is a certified Tolkien geek– who beat screenwriter Philippa Boyens in a trivia contest about the author held on the Hobbit set–  the full shows include lots of jokes and material about the film, and are well worth a look.)

Richard Armitage was on Today yesterday, as was Elijah Wood. Martin Freeman appeared on David Letterman on Tuesday night. Many, many entertainment programs have featured similar brief preview pieces with recycled footage from the Wellington premiere, the WETA interviews and, typically, a host from a given show messing about in Hobbit feet or Elf ears on the set. Hugo hasn’t appeared in any that I’ve seen, apart from the Entertainment Tonight segment I shared in the previous entry. Some shows have included Cate Blanchett or Elijah Wood quotes from the group interviews and simply cropped Hugo out of the frame. Needless to say, that’s not going to get them cross-posted here. 😉 But in some cases, websites for various shows will include footage not aired on TV… so I’ll keep an eye out. There are new (non-video) interviews with Peter Jackson at the New Zealand Herald, The Guardian, Total Film and The Huffington Post as well.   The last includes a video preview of the 48 FPS technology that is already causing controversy among viewers. Ian McKellen counters the two major criticismws of the film thusfar– the 48 FPS technology and the decision to turn it into a trilogy– at OK Online.

New York premiere is officially underway… no sign of Hugo Weaving yet, but I’ll update the moment I have pics or confirmation he isn’t there.

UPDATE: No signs of Hugo yet, but here’s another WETA cast interview filmed for Australian TV, Channel Four this time, shared on YouTube by superfan MrBBi:

Yes, there’s also a clip of Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis.  And Ian McKellen managed to charm despite a 1-minute interview restriction in Alicia Malone’s Movie Minute.  McKellen also held a two-part Twitter interview for The Hobbit Movie’s Twitter feed yesterday and this morning … I was unable to catch the second part live due to a family health issue, but it’s still a very entertaining read, and a Twitter pal of mine got a Hugo question in. 😉 Warner Bros has posted TV Spot 10 and an unnumbered “extended TV Spot” on YouTube. Andy Serkis gave a lengthy interview about his career to AFI.

As I predicted, it didn’t take long for the LA Times White Council video (here called “Dragon”) to make it to YouTube:

The film has drawn mixed reviews, though no outright pans. Most negativity seems to take issue with the HFR technology (though some, like the New York Daily News praise it) and the choice to turn the book into three films; some critics apparently feel too much time is spent on character development. 😉 (Seriously, though, I preferred the Expanded Editions of LOTR to the rushed-feeling theatrical versions. I’m more concerned with some iffy looking VFX shots in released footage.)

It’s not looking good as far as Hugo’s participation in the Hobbit New York premiere goes. Photos confirm that Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Elijah Wood, Lee Pace, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman and Adam Brown are on hand, with Cate Blanchett, and Hugo Weaving the most prominent no-shows… of course, both attended the Wellington premiere and have done press for the film, and it’s entirely possible Hugo has other work commitments with three films and a play planned for the next 18 months or so. Also fair to repeat that Hugo and Cate play relatively brief (if iconic) roles in the film. Getty Images has a selection of photos already up from the New York premiere.

Hobbit Interviews, Clips, B-Roll Footage, More Wellington Pics and Video

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

As the December 6 New York premiere of The Hobbit approaches, preview material has been appearing all over the place. I’m sorry  haven’t been able to quite keep up… in addition to work and family responsibilities, I have a new, possibly insane kitten in the house. But I will get right to all the new and slightly older stuff straight away… Hugo Weaving did NOT appear and the December 1 Tokyo premiere despite earlier announcements he would; even TORN’s coverage of the event mistakenly lists him being there. But the only actors who appeared were Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Elijah Wood. Of course, Peter Jackson was also on hand. TORN has clips of their interviews and some of the red carpet; I watched a bit of the event streamed live, but had to crash eventually because it was around 4am here.

I have no idea if Hugo will attend the New York premiere or the London Royal Premiere that follows on December 12; we can only hope for the best and enjoy the interviews and coverage we do get. So far, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis seem to be doing most of the promotional heavy lifting in the US media; Richard Armitage will probably join them when the second and third films come out; Armitage isn’t as well known to US audiences now, but if The Hobbit is a hit, this will change; early reviews suggests Armitage gets a lot of the sort of dramatic material Viggo Mortensen got as Aragorn in LOTR.

Ian McKellen appeared yesterday on The Today Show and The Colbert Report; Martin Freeman appeared on Today this morning and is scheduled for Colbert and David Letterman tonight. Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis will round out the week on these shows. I still don’t know which show the Zealandia interview (featuring Hugo along with Freeman, Wood, Armitage and Serkis) but I’ll share those details as soon as I know them.

But there is one Hugo Weaving Hobbit interview I can share wit you this minute; it’s the now-standard on-set interview wherein an actor briefly discusses his character and his role in the film. Yes, of course the full cast gets similar treatment; there are convenient links to the other interviews on the clip’s YouTube page.

There are also six new clips featuring footage from the completed film and over 20 minutes of B-Roll footage; you can see both compiled at Collider (6 Clips, B-Roll). I’ll warn you that these go heavily into spoiler territory, so I haven’t watched all of them. I felt too much of Cloud Atlas was revealed prematurely in these sort of previews, and it’s far from the only film to suffer too many spoilers in the name of promotion. Since it’s been much longer since I read The Hobbit than Cloud Atlas, I’m trying to hold off on watching every scrap of preview footage until I see the film. I did buy tickets for a December 13 midnight screening in the full IMAX 3D presentation… according to TORN’s list of HFR screens, I might be seeing the vaunted (though already controversial) 48 FPS as well, though I don’t know for certain if the midnight screening is in that format, just that the theater I’m going to has the technology. (Though I can’t imagine anyone NOT taking advantage under the circumstances.)

I’ll embed Collider’s full compilation of six preview clips under the cut, as well as the one featuring Hugo as Elrond (a lot of this was already seen in the alternate ending of the second theatrical trailer) and all the the B-Roll into more-easily-digested three to five minute segments. I do know that Hugo is briefly seen in the third of these.

Collider’s compilation: six preview clips (can’t embed; Hugo clip below, but video still up at Collider)


Preview clip: “Swords Are Named For The Great Deeds They Do In War” (featuring Elrond)


B-Roll part 1: Gollum’s cave


B-Roll Part 2: Dinner with Dwarves, The Contract, “The Lonely Mountain”, Orcs


B-Roll Part 3: Dwarf Barbecue, Rivendell (incl great footage of Hugo and Sir Ian out of character)


B-Roll Part 4: The White Council, Frodo and (older) Bilbo, Making Camp, Sting, Into Battle


B-Roll Part 5: Traveling, Mountain Storm, Goblins, Rivendell

Note: Hugo appears in B-Roll clips 3 and 5.

And here are Warner Bros official TV Spot 8 and 9 clips:

UPDATE: Here’s Entertainment Tonight’s 7-minute interview with the cast at WETA, with actors combined into the same groups as on Australian TV (Weaving/Blanchett/Wood, Armitage/Freeman/Serkis)

Early reviews for The Hobbit lean positive, though some critics are wary of the 48 FPS technology, some find a few SFX sequences spotty (a feeling I get from some of the ads- there might be an over reliance on CG-based sets) and some miss the thrill of discovery from the original trilogy (something that can’t be avoided, really.) BUT no one pans the actors, storytelling or direction, so there’s still good reason to be optimistic. Here are some quotes from early reviews; click links to read the rest, which in some cases are quite long and spoilery:
Dave Trumbore, Collider: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a classic adventure quest in the making; packed with colorful characters, gorgeous settings and plenty of action, the only setbacks are technical ones….For The Hobbit prequel trilogy, Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro portioned out Tolkien’s original tome to suit the needs of all three films (though it was originally only two).  Judging from An Unexpected Journey, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in good hands, as far as story goes….  The humor of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is mostly on par with that of Lord of the Rings but there are moments clearly meant for kids in this more family-friendly installment (though it is rated PG-13 and there are a surprising number of decapitations…)[Richard] Armitage brings gravitas and solemnity to the role of Thorin, especially when surrounded by the clownish Dwarves in his company…. [The rest of the actors playing] Dwarvish company, who all did fantastic jobs,  weren’t given much room to breathe. Hopefully, now that they’ve been introduced, they’ll get some individual moments in the future films….McKellen is fantastic as Gandalf, a role he was surely born to play. As the meddling wizard, he’s as charming and manipulative as ever. McKellen also continues to show great range as both the soft-spoken advisor, the knick-of-time rescuer and even as the upstart challenger to his superiors and mentors. There’s a great scene that reunites McKellen’s Gandalf with Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman the White wizard (Christopher Lee) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving), all who happen to be more powerful than Gandalf. Not only does it connect the characters throughout the entire arc of Tolkien films, it establishes their relationships and actually manages to strengthen the Lord of the Rings series because of it. A small scene, but a well-directed one. And I can’t forget Serkis, who is brilliant as usual. …. I admire and support Jackson’s decision to use 48fps and 3D going forward, but there is still some work to do to make it seamless…On the plus side, the costume and make-up design for the flesh-and-blood characters and creatures was phenomenal, even managing to surpass the original Lord of the Rings trilogy….The greatest achievement of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is how well it ties in with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, much better than, say, the original Star Wars films and their prequels, which are widely-considered to be inferior… The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set a high bar for the next two installments, but if the Lord of the Rings trilogy is any indication, I fully believe that bar will be surpassed. A-”

Graeme Tuckett, The Dominion Post: “Let’s get the obvious out of the way immediately. The Hobbit is a very different experience to The Lord of The Rings. The book was written years earlier, and it was written for an audience of children…. Although some of the locations are identical, everything is brighter and lighter here….  Bilbo’s companions for his unexpected journey turn up for dinner, break into song, and engage in a bout of pottery juggling. It’s fun to watch, but it sure ain’t foreboding… In the 3-D at 48 frames per second that The Hobbit is intended to be screened in, this film shines in a manner that we have never seen before. The image on screen isn’t just ”more real”, it is hyper-real. Everything is bright, and pin sharp….Most people I asked said they adjusted to the effect after a few minutes, and then settled in and started to enjoy the film. But in two and three quarter hours, I didn’t feel that old familiar joy of being immersed in a picture. I could only watch The Hobbit move across the screen, I was never caught up in the story in the way that I am with the films I love….Again, how could I not think of The Lord of the Rings; films that I have never had any trouble getting lost in. Of course Rings had thousands of digital effects shots as well – these films cannot be made without them – but I missed that old awe, watching The Hobbit. I missed the genuine excitement of watching and hearing Boromir and Strider battling the orcs in a pine forest. Knowing that those scenes were largely shot outside, under sunlight augmented by lamps, among real trees. Call me old-fashioned, but there is a difference… The dwarves all do their jobs just fine, with Richard Armitage as their leader the only one with any real dramatic heavy lifting to get through. Around them, returning campaigners Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Sir Ian McKellen are all very good, with McKellen seemingly relishing his work even more than ever….But Martin Freeman – as Bilbo – is truly excellent. This is an inspired bit of casting, and it will pay dividends as the films progress. The Hobbit needs a human heart to connect to its audience. McKellen, Armitage and Freeman provide it… Whether or not I personally ‘like’ a film has very little to do with any review I write. The questions to answer are ”Does the film achieve what it set out to do?’ and ‘Will it work for the audience it was made for?’ The Hobbit answers these two questions with a resounding ‘Yep’.” (Four out of Five Stars)

Garfemaio, TheOneRing.net: “I am not here to review the technology, this is just going to be a short and sweet commentary on the movie. Martin Freeman is a joy to watch inhabit the role of Bilbo Baggins: you feel everything he feels, and that is all those emotions you read about in the book….There are whole chunks of dialogue lifted directly from the book, you will recognize it throughout the film… Gandalf is Gandalf,, the slightly grumpy, sometimes playful Gandalf the Grey we met 11 years ago is back….And Richard Armitage as Thorin and Ken Stott as Balin, in particular, shine in their respective roles. You will feel you are in the presence of a King without a Throne. But the kudos really have to go to Andy Serkis as Gollum and Martin’s Bilbo…The Riddles in the Dark will have you on the edge of you seat…To be honest, yes there are other bits that are a bit confusing and may feel misplaced, but I will want to watch it a second time before I pass final judgement on this film. I loved the ending, it is rather awesome.”

Calisuri, TheOneRing.net: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ is a fulfilling and entertaining adventure that is sure to please most Middle-earth enthusiasts.  Filled with direct book-to-screen moments and some unique new additions, the film stands as a strong first installment of a three-year adventure. If you think of it as a fine art masterpiece in a beautiful museum, it can sit proudly next to its LOTR siblings. Well, sorta. You see, someone chose an overly busy frame with bright colors and fancy patterns that distracts from the essential content. Luckily, in your experience, you can easily swap out the frame… Some who are not familiar with the childish nature of The Hobbit might find this a bit odd when they compare the drama to the LOTR films… The acting by the core cast was astoundingly good. Martin Freeman IS Bilbo Baggins and as expected delivers an amazing performance with true emotion, humor and feeling. Ian McKellen is a less serious version of his LOTR-self and in many ways a lot more likable. His sense of humor comes across more in the performance and it is very endearing. Richard Armitage delivers a dead-on performance of Thorin. For those of us who know what the future holds for Thorin, I can clearly state the casting was perfect. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum and provides yet another amazing performance…The dwarves were always a bit of a concern for me because I thought we’d be spending a lot of time getting to know each and dealing with lot of childish humor. This is not the case. They do all get introductions and each has their own distinct and unique contribution to the film. There is of course some ‘potty’ humor, but nothing that is overdone or inconsistent. Ken Stott as Balin delivers a stand-out performance… There is one BIG negative from my viewing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It has nothing to do with the plot, acting, score or any other aspect of the actual content of the film. It has to do with wrapping this masterpiece in the inappropriate frame of HFR 3D. It was quite simply unnecessary to saddle this film with this presentational wizardry… I was constantly taken out of the story and performance because my brain was distracted by the ‘bells and whistles’ on screen. I was jolted out of the content of the film and noticed the tech behind it.  That is unfortunate… So here’s my slightly controversial suggestion: Watch this film first in good ole fashioned 24fps. Then, for your second viewing, go and see it in HFR. This way your initial experience won’t be compromised by the tech and second-time-round you may actually be able to enjoy the high frame rate as well!”

MrCere, TheOneRing.net: “Instead of playing safe and comfortable in lower-risk financial zones, Jackson has pushed the boundaries with 3D, with 48 frames of film per second -– or the digital equivalent — flashing past viewers’ eyes instead of the traditional 24fps. It is definitely different…Here, Jackson has gone to such lengths to make the fantastic look real that for many the film will look unreal -– but only if viewers choose to see it in the director’s preferred way. Of the approximately 24,000 theaters that will display The Hobbit: AUJ, around 1,000 will have the technology to display it as it was shot — HFR 3D. But, for those 1,000, hang onto your arm rests, cinema has just leapt forward…  Bilbo Baggins (masterfully portrayed by Martin Freeman in a performance that will be lost amidst the eye-popping action sequences), as many readers will know, relishes his comfortable life in the cinematically familiar Bag End. He is interrupted by a gaggle of dwarves and a meddlesome wizard who for reasons he cannot himself explain, thinks Bilbo needs to travel with the dwarves… People who haven’t been paying attention to the promotional lead-in campaign may be surprised to find that joining Freeman and Ian McKellen’s Gandalf as lead characters in the film is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. It’s a role likely to launch Armitage, blessed with an already-fervent fanbase, masculine good looks, and ample ability, into the stratosphere. The character is deeply scarred and tragic. Thorin gives the children’s tale a Shakespearean disaster angle and the film makes the most of it in in ways that may not surprise viewers but will nevertheless delight them…. Andy Serkis returns to work his performance-capture magic as Gollum… Bilbo, content to play it safe in a movie that most definitely isn’t, is joined by all these dwarves who despite excellent design and characterization, just don’t have enough room in the movie. Considering Jackson’s Middle-earth legacy, many viewers will immediately begin pondering extended editions and hope for more from these characters…  Then -– especially if they see it in 48 fps -– they’ll want to schedule another viewing. This writer’s initial reaction to the film was wanting to see it again immediately. Fans, and those who care about film as an art form (and perhaps as a science) will want to view The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in both its incredibly clear new format and as a traditional film…. It goes without saying that not everybody will like everything. Setting aside technology for a moment, sections of the film that delight some will frustrate others… But putting aside the quibbles, Jackson has delivered a tightly paced action flick that is rollicking fun. He has captured again the magic of Tolkien’s world with his own stylistic, cinematic stamp… Cate Blanchett casts her graceful spell along with the most welcome Christopher Lee and the slightly less stressed Elrond from Hugo Weaving, iconic in his own right. The dead-on casting with exemplary performances from the leads as well as those in small roles make the fantasy feel real more than any technician can -– and the technicians on this film are world-class here.”

(The Australian has posted a slightly more ambivalent review as well… Though apart from the VFX questions the thing this guy whines about were things I enjoyed in LOTR… yes, including all the “false endings” to ROTK. They’re in the book. Deal.) 😉

So, pretty much everyone is ambivalent about the 48 FPS presentation. I am going to try to see the film in both versions, probably in 2D at some point as well. I remember the first time I saw an HDTV presentation, I was initially very distracted by the lifelike realism, so much so that, like one of these critics, was initially less immersed in storytelling and characterization and focusing on set decoration, wig design and some unfortunate actor’s prominent nosehairs. 😉 But… eventually the acting and writing were enough to get me back on track. 3D films (especially CG-heavy ones) have been more of a problem for me; only two or three I’ve seen have been fully satisfying, and in most cases the technology more distracting than immersive. It’s never terribly realistic. I did prefer Cloud Atlas in IMAX slightly over the traditional screen format. So… we’ll have to see. Either way they’re guaranteeing themselves a lot of repeat business. 😉 You can also read a selection of mostly enthusiastic tweets from the Wellington premiere at Screen Crush.

Pics and footage from the November 28 Wellington premiere continue to appear. One News featured a compilation of red carpet interviews, including comments from Hugo that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and they also had a clip of the Maori greeting ceremony that preceded the press conference (Note: clip is silent.). The Australian/SkyNews also had red carpet highlights featuring Hugo. None of these can be directly embedded; my apologies. (Really, the sites of origin should be more fan-friendly…). One News also has a video review (mostly positive). There’s a lavish, in-depth study of the possible book-to-film adaptation process at TORN (which should be read by only those who’ve already read the book, as there are spoilers), A Peter Jackson interview about character design, including Smaug’s, at the LA Times (they have a total of three video interviews with PJ, filmed at this year’s Comic Con),  an interview with Hugo’s best red carpet buddy James Nesbitt at the Belfast Times,

ScreenSlam has video interviews with most of the cast, including Hugo; ideally this will embed. [Update: no, it won’t. Curse you, LJ!  Click the link…]

Several fans with better video software than mine did record the full three-hour plus premiere; many have tried to post footage online in segments but Warner Bros keeps blocking their efforts… while continuing to withhold all but the stingiest glimpses of the event. Hugo’s full interview can be seen 50.30 into this clip if it remains up. (There are links to Parts 2 and 3 there too.) I just checked to ensure it still plays as of posting time. There’s a brief excerpt (similar to the one posted at Trailer Addict) here.

There are plenty of additional Hugo Weaving photos from Wellington, including the first pic I’ve seen of Hugo after the premiere:


Director Bryan Singer, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving after the Welington premiere; Photo: AfterElton, no photographer credit given)

PJD, Folded Cranes


Mark Tantrum, Getty Images (larger version)


Hagen Hopkins, Getty Images (larger version)


David Panusch/Snapstar Live (including next 5 photos)


Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood


Yes, more Weaving and Nesbitt photos! 😉


Ruth and Robin/Wordpress (XL version here)


3 News NZ


Kerry McCabe/Flickr


SNPA/John Cowpland


Wall Street Journal/GTRES (larger version)


The Social Shuttle


SkyKiwi


Gazeta Prawna/Sven Stadtmann


Movieplayer.it


Action Press


The Hobbit on Facebook


The Heirs of Durin/ThorinOakenshield.net (They have a TON of great material, especially if you’re a Richard Armitage fan.)


Amelia Elevens/Tara via Tumblr


Press conference: Dean O’Gorman, Hugo Weaving, Sylvester McCoy photo: Sven Stadtmann/Corbis


Both photo: Splash News/Corbis


800px via Flickr (plus next 2 photos)


Neuköln via Flickr (plus next 2 photos)


DandiReyes via Flickr


Joel Hawes via Flickr (plus next photo)


Eudaimonie via Flickr


prwelly via Flickr (plus following photo)

 

Hugo is briefly seen (but not interviewed) in red carpet videos from TheOneRing.net and Fraser Coast Chronicle…Apparently, judging from some comments and complaints, Hugo and Cate Blanchett didn’t do as many interviews as some actors and didn’t sign as many autographs, though in a crowd of thousands, only a handful of people will be fully satisfied in this respect. In their defense, Cate Blanchett has said she only did eight days of filming on the new trilogy, and Hugo was only on set a couple of weeks… they probably have about ten minutes of screentime apiece. It would be unfair for them to get more media attention than Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage, who carry the film and were on set for over a year (though Freeman and McKellen each took breaks for other projects.) Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood only have cameos in The Hobbit and have been front and center in the promotion, but they had iconic lead roles in Lord of the Rings while Weaving and Blanchett had secondary roles as they do here. (Serkis was also second-unit director on The Hobbit.) In the Japan premiere live stream, I noticed that actors were herded from place to place along the red carpet by various body guards and “handlers”, not simply doing as they pleased. The same probably happened in Wellington. I don’t think anyone was deliberately snubbed.  Elijah Wood seemed distraught that he wasn’t allowed to linger and just sign autographs all night. All the actors will probably have some sort of carpal tunnel injury when all is said and done, especially those like Hugo who’ve just come off previous promotional junkets.

In non-Hobbit news, Cloud Atlas (well, The Hobbit too) is eligible for the Best Cast Award at next year’s Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Andrew Upton (STC artistic director) composed a lengthy, eloquent essay about the future of theatre which can be read at The Australian,  and Ben Brantley again lavishes praise on STC’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya in a New York Times analysis of recent Chekhov productions.

You can read the latest positive Cloud Atlas reviews at Fictional Liar, Colorado Celt, Jacqueline Moleski, Felice’s Log, and Josh Rosenfield. And a making-of extra long available only on the Babe Special Edition DVD has now been posted to YouTube. Hugo isn’t seen, but you can hear him voicing a certain sonorous Border Collie.